Updates and advice for private tenants in response to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak.

Our Private Sector Housing Team are continuing to support Welwyn Hatfield residents who have concerns about their accommodation during the coronavirus outbreak, but the team has had to make some changes to the way they work.

This is an update on how we are dealing with enquiries in the current situation, what you should expect from your landlord or managing agent and HMO's. All information offered is in line with the Government's guidance to landlords and tenants.

Nobody can be forced to leave their home because of coronavirus. If someone you share your house with has the virus, your landlord is not obliged to remove them or find you somewhere else to stay.

If you are concerned about a situation, please email us, with your contact details, at housingandcommunity@welhat.gov.uk Or give us a call on 01707 357672

 

Moving House


You are free to move home, whether renting or buying under the current national lockdown. Provided that the moves are undertaken in line with public health advice and the relevant coronavirus (COVID-19) legislation.

Where a home move proceeds, they should be conducted in line with guidance on moving home during the coronavirus (COVID-19) period in England. There are also no restrictions on people moving permanently into new shared accommodation such as HMOs.

 

Complaints and Enquiries


Generally we are prioritising imminent or high-risk situations which could cause a hazard to tenants. This includes fire risk due to lack of or non-working fire precautions, dangerous electric and gas installations, lack of hot water and heating, burst pipes or severe water damage. However we will also consider any other complaint that you have about your living conditions.

Where possible, we will liaise with you and your landlords through email, phone, photos and video, only making visits to properties where we consider it absolutely necessary. If we do have to make a visit to your property it will be done in a Covid safe manner and with regard to social distancing and hygiene

 

Evictions


We will respond to situations relating to the illegal eviction or harassment of tenants. Generally your landlord should give you adequate notice and follow the correct legal process if he wants to seek possession of the property. You may find this website useful https://www.gov.uk/evicting-tenants/section-21-and-section-8-notices

If you believe that you have been illegally evicted please give us a call.

You should continue to pay rent and abide by all other terms of your tenancy agreement to the best of your ability. If you are not able to pay your rent, speak to your landlord as soon as possible to try and agree a payment plan. If you are already in rent arrears you should contact your landlord to see if you can reach an agreeable solution.

The government has introduced a package of financial support available to tenants. For more information visit our COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Financial help advice page.

 

What you should expect from your Landlord or managing agent?


Whilst they have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to ensure your property is legally compliant i.e. safe and reasonably maintained, Landlords and managing agents also have a duty to protect themselves, their staff, contractors and you.

Each situation must be considered on a case-by-case basis. You should inform your landlord as soon as possible of any issues with the condition of your property.

Where reasonable, safe for you and in line with government guidance, we recommend you allow landlords or contractors access to your property in order to inspect or remedy urgent health and safety issues. This includes fire risk due to lack of or non-working fire precautions, dangerous electric and gas installations, lack of hot water and heating and burst pipes or severe water damage.

Follow sensible precautions to keep yourself safe when contractors or others are visiting your property in these circumstances. We strongly advise you take additional measures such as remaining in a separate room during any visits and following government advice on hygiene before, during and after visits. You do not need to have direct contact with anyone visiting your property to carry out repairs.

The government has put out the following guidance about tradespeople carrying out work in people's homes https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/homes

What if I live in an HMO (shared house)?


HMO managers have a legal duty to maintain the shared parts of the property, ensuring that these and any fixtures, fittings or appliances are maintained in good and safe repair and in clean working order. 

This can be done in accordance with the guidance on physical distancing, isolation and shielding and we would encourage you to make arrangements with your manager to support them with this. This also applies to the testing and maintenance of fire safety precautions (including fire doors) and we expect that these basic safety checks are continued and recorded.

Follow sensible precautions to keep yourself safe when contractors or others are visiting your property. We strongly advise you take additional measures such as remaining in a separate room during any visits and following government advice on hygiene before, during and after visits. You do not need to have direct contact with anyone visiting your property to carry out repairs and safety inspections.

 

Your health and welfare


The government and NHS websites have advice on hygiene, physical distancing and self-isolation:

gov.uk/coronavirus

nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19

 

There is also government guidance on:

Cleaning your home to minimise the risk of infection

What to do if you are in a shared home with someone who may have the virus

 

Shelter also have useful advice on housing and COVID-19 (Coronavirus):

england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/coronavirus

Updated: 02/6/2020