COVID-19 Update 20th May
Latest advice & FAQs

Let's keep talking

Whilst these are uncertain times, we want to reassure you, we are still here to help.

The health and wellbeing of our customers, colleagues and communities is of utmost importance to us and whilst these are uncertain times, we want to reassure you, we are here for you.

We have been supporting landlords and tenants for many years and continue to do so through these changing times.

We are prepared to continue to service you in the coming weeks, we would be pleased to discuss your situation and adjust how we work with you in the current circumstances. Currently, the best way of contacting us is via email or through your local branch.

Landlord FAQs

  • Yes – Your property is still being advertised through the majority of our usual channels. We are also busy expanding use of video for virtual viewings.

  • Yes – During lockdown and in compliance with govt. guidelines we helped to safely rehouse those tenants with an urgent need for accommodation. Over recent weeks we have noticed a marked increase in the number of prospective tenants looking to move. We are actively managing those enquiries and matching tenants with potential properties.

    Following Government’s announcement confirming the re-opening of the English Housing Market on May 13th we are finalising plans on the reopening of our English offices whilst ensuring the protection of colleagues and customers alike. Restrictions in Wales and Scotland remain in place.     

  • English Government has confirmed that subject to a number of restrictions, individuals from the same household can view a property they are interested in. However, restrictions in Scotland and Wales remain. Virtual viewings will be used wherever possible to help limit the number of people entering your property.  Prior to visiting we will provide our terms of engagement outlining what to expect and the preparations required.

  • Booking your appointment

    • When making an appointment you will be asked if you or any of your household has shown symptoms of Covid-19 or has tested positive in the last 14 days. If yes then we will not be able to proceed with the booking.
    • We will also ask if you are officially shielding anyone at the property or whether you or anyone present at the property is in the vulnerable category. If yes then we will not be able to proceed with the booking.
    • Appointments should not be double booked with anyone else. Where possible we should be alone in the property.

     

    Key collection

    • If we need to collect keys, they should be left in an agreed place to avoid any unnecessary face to face contact of less than 2m. You may be asked to place the keys in an envelope or bag that we will provide. We will only touch the keys once we are wearing gloves. We may also disinfect the keys.

     

    Arriving at the property

    • If anyone is presenting Covid-19 symptoms when we arrive at the property we will be unable to proceed.
    • The number of persons per appointment in addition to our colleague will be limited to 2 individuals from the same household.
    • Where possible children should not be present in the property and should vacate whilst we are in attendance. Pets should please be contained.
    • Upon arrival at the property, we would ask that the 2m distancing rule is adhered to at all times. Ideally, the occupants should vacate the property whilst we are in attendance, and at the very least they should not be in the same room at the same time.
    • We will aim to limit our time in the property and will answer any questions either outside of the property or over the telephone.  

     

    Preparing the property

    • The property should be well ventilated with fresh air prior to our visit but the windows must be shut prior to arrival when photos are taken.
    • All light switches, door handles and other key contact surfaces should be sanitised with a disinfectant prior to our arrival.
    • All lights should be on and internal doors open. We will photograph and leave the property as we find it
    • The property should be ready to be photographed. We will not be tidying things away or moving furniture.

     

    We may appear different

    • Our colleague will use hand sanitiser or will request to wash their hands upon arrival at the property; they will do the same before leaving.
    • Our colleague may be wearing protective Face Masks, Gloves or Shoe Covers.
    • They will carry disinfectant spray with them and may need to use this for keys, their kit or even in some areas of the house if they feel they need to.

     

    Other

    • We will politely decline any offers of refreshments.
  • Following Government’s announcement confirming the re-opening of the English Housing Market on May 13th we are finalising plans on the reopening of our English offices whilst ensuring the protection of colleagues and customers alike. Restrictions in Wales and Scotland remain in place.         

    In the meantime you can email us using the branch email address on our website

  • Yes – Whilst we finalise our plans around the reopening of our English offices, and for properties in Wales and Scotland where face to face appraisals are still not possible under current restrictions, we are undertaking telephone and virtual appraisals. To make arrangements please email us using the branch email address on our website.   

  • Likely impact to the UK's housing market is as yet unknown. We continue to monitor activity within the lettings sector to and keep our clients as fully informed as possible.

  • Not for the time being. – Sales of RLP policies through our offices have been suspended whilst the policy underwriter assesses under what conditions the product can be re-introduced.  This approach mirrors that seen across a number of insurance products in the market.

  • Yes – Rent remains payable. There is no automatic suspension of rental payments during the crisis.

  • We have advised tenants that if they are having trouble paying rent then they should discuss this with you as soon as possible. Where payments are made to us, your tenant has been advised to Chat with us on our website or by emailing creditcontrol@countrywide.co.uk. If you would like to speak with someone, please contact your local property management team.

  • Yes - Government has an expectation that landlords will, where reasonably possible, support tenants in difficulty. On May 5th govt. signalled a wish to “strengthen pre-action protocol”. Whilst no further detail is currently available it will almost certainly involve landlords having a duty to manage arrears before commencing possession proceedings. An unreasonable failure to do so could prejudice their ability to gain possession.

  • This will understandably depend on the landlord's personal circumstances but there is an expectation from govt. that landlords will, where possible, agree to payment plans.  In agreeing to a payment plan rent is not waived but delayed by an agreed amount for a set period of time.  The balance is either repaid on an agreed date or spread over the remaining period of the tenancy.  An unreasonable failure to do so could prejudice a landlords’ ability to gain possession.    

  • Yes – From March landlords with a buy-to-let mortgage have been able to apply to their lender for a 3 month mortgage holiday. In May this was extended for a further 3 months. The date for application was also extended with the deadline now at the end of July. Although not yet confirmed, we are hearing reports that not all lenders are granting mortgage holidays. Examples include where the borrower is not resident in the UK and/or has a portfolio of properties. Please check with your lender before extending support to your tenant based on the suspension of mortgage payments.  

    We understand the Scottish Govt. is establishing a fund for private landlords experiencing difficulties in obtaining rent as a result of the crisis. Loans will be interest-free and payments deferred.    

  • You should defer to your cover provider to establish details of any restrictions applicable to your policy as a result of the current crisis. If you have arranged cover through us then please email rlp@countrywide.co.uk.

  • No – Possession proceedings have been suspended until June 26th 2020.  A decision of whether to extend this for another 3 months will be taken in June. 

    Effective March 26th 2020 landlords are required to serve their tenant with 3 months’ notice of their intention to seek possession as opposed to the usual.

  • No – Effective April 7th the minimum notice period for the service of notice seeking possession was extended to 6 months. A shorter notice period of 3 months applies where possession is required by the landlord for his own occupation or as a result of antisocial or criminal behaviour.

    The First Tier Tribunal will not be sitting until May 28th. This may be subject to extension.

  • Yes – Your tenants can give notice by emailing terminations@countrywide.co.uk. When we have received their notice, we will contact you to let you know.

  • Yes – Supporting tenants and landlords in the properties we manage was an immediate priority as lockdown was announced. Landlords and tenants can contact us on the usual property management telephone number.

  • The easiest way for tenants to report repairs is through our website. They will also receive helpful advice on what to do in an emergency. Our property management centres work with an extensive bank of contractors. At the date of this update, most are working as normal and therefore able to undertake essential maintenance and safety inspections.

  • With properties managed by us keys cannot be collected from our branches because of the crisis. To ensure tenant safety and that of the contractor, they will call them directly to arrange access.  Tenants should advise them of any self-isolation or illness within the household.  When providing access, social distancing protocols should are observed.  If the tenant is transferring keys they should do so in a secure envelope ensuring they are sanitised before and after use.

  • Where the property is managed by us, we are reminding tenants that renewal of the annual Gas Safety Record is an important part of keeping them safe in their home as it includes checks for carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a colourless odourless gas that can quickly kill, hence it often being referred to as the “Silent Killer”. Tenants allowing access for the inspection to take place as normal during the crisis is therefore very important. We are also reminding them to test any smoke and carbon monoxide alarms fitted at the property on a weekly basis.

  • Your tenant should where reasonable and safe, continue to allow access for repairs and safety inspections. If access is refused then efforts to undertake repairs and carry out safety inspections should be carefully documented and regularly followed up until the work has been completed.

  • The requirement for all new tenancies and most renewals commencing July 1st 2020 to have an Electrical Inspection Condition Report (EICR) remains unchanged. If we manage your property we will be in touch with you shortly. In the meantime please contact us if you have any questions.

  • No - Our usual cycle of routine property inspections has been suspended due to the increased risk associated with the majority of tenants remaining at home as a result of govt. restrictions and working from home guidelines.  Inspections will recommence as soon as it is safe to do so.  If you have any individual concerns please discuss these with your property manager.

  • We update these FAQs in line with government announcements. You can also visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus, www.gov.scot and www.gov.wales for updates.