Head of Lettings, Rachael James updates our Landlords on our activities in light of the Covid-19 pandemic
Firstly, I apologise for a delay in writing to you with an update how our Letting and Management Department has reacted to the evolving Covid-19 situation. I have been working hard with fellow Partners to re-organise and implement the best working practices we can during this challenging time.
I would like to assure you all that we are running the department as “business as usual” with staff working from home with laptops and mobile phones with full and secure access to our systems. We are able to work very well remotely as a department.
Property Inspections and maintenance Rather than cancelling the appointments, I have asked the property management department to conduct a ‘virtual inspection’ over the phone, checking in with tenants and encouraging them to report any issues or concerns they might have, and to send photographs if necessary.
We are also explaining that Gas Safety Certificates must go ahead for their own safety. If we are unable to make the appointment for various reasons, we are informing the Environmental Health Department and keeping notes on the file to ensure that you as a Landlord and we as Letting Agents are covered legally should a certificate expiry date pass without renewal.
Our approved contractors are working within all current safety guidelines, and continue to offer emergency call-outs when requested. Any non-essential maintenance will be postponed until such time as restrictions are lifted.
Viewings Property viewings for prospective tenants cannot take place on a face to face basis, however our letting sales team in the local offices are creating a ‘virtual viewing’ on all vacant properties currently available. This will enable us to ensure we are not missing an opportunity, with enquiries still coming in thick and fast.
Arranging Tenancy and Move-ins for new lets At the moment we are able to process all agreed lets in the normal way via email and Adobe Signature, but moving in dates might well have to be re-arranged or postponed if further Government restrictions are imposed.
Inventories and Check-outs We are unable to provide an independent inventory and check-out for a property at the present time; however, we are taking plenty of photos to ensure we are able to record the current condition and to proceed with the move-in.
Processing Rents and Statements All rents received will be processed in the usual way with statements and copy invoices sent to you by email.
Tenants no-payment of rent This has been a very popular subject! Some tenants have been in contact informing us they cannot pay their rent because they have been laid off. We are at present trying to give them advice as to what help is available to them.
This does of course depend on whether they are employed or self-employed. For the employed, they will need to contact their employer and they should be entitled to the Furlough Government scheme.
With relation to the self-employed, as I am sure that you are aware their government scheme will not kick-in until the end of June. I am anticipating that we will get requests to delay their rental payment until then. We will of course contact you immediately if this occurs with your property.
We will treat each individual’s request on its own merits, and whilst some tenants might decide to use this situation as an excuse to stop paying their rent, we are doing all we can to offer advice on the options available to those in difficulty, and prevent this from occurring and will keep you fully informed of discussions.
Buy-To-Let Mortgages If you have a Buy-to-Let mortgage, we suggest that you contact your lender for advice and help if necessary, as there is Government help and assistance for Landlords subject to their terms. Please refer to up to date information.
Lastly, please stay safe and well and if you do have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact staff in the usual way. We have set up diverts to all office phones so if you don’t get through straight away, please leave a message and we will be in contact as soon as we can. We would however urge you to communicate via email where possible.