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Insights

Covid 19 Update – 31.03.20

Posted on 31st March 2020 in Affordable Housing, Coronavirus Pandemic

Posted by

Jenny Lloyd

Associate and Solicitor
Covid 19 Update – 31.03.20

Apart from this starting to feel like the log from the Starship Enterprise – and we are indeed boldly going where no man has gone before – today’s update contains:

  • New laws and regulations
  • Which Court is open near me and for what?

New Laws and Regulations

Yesterday the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published a guidance note for Landlords: Click here

It is said that this will be updated as the crisis develops, so please keep an eye on it.

It covers notices, Court action and gaining access to a property. While it is not law, we strongly recommend that you follow it as it could be raised in a Defence under both reasonableness and proportionality.

In respect of repairs it reminds Landlords that there is a duty to repair but there is an understanding that planned inspections may not be possible or safe. In these circumstances consider using other means to inspect a property such as via video call with the tenant – though this may only give a limited view of the problem.

It does specifically say that:

“However, in these unprecedented times we encourage tenants and landlords to take a pragmatic, common-sense approach to non-urgent issues which are affected by COVID-19 related restrictions.”

The indication is that only urgent issues should be dealt with at this time. An urgent issue would be a roof leak, boiler problem so that there is no heating or hot water, broken window, or the break down of equipment relied on by a disabled person, i.e. a stairlift.

You must also continue to comply, where possible, with the gas safety and electrical safety regulations. If it is not possible to gain access – say because a family is self-isolating or you are unable to find a gas engineer to attend the property – then you should record this.

It is important to remember that where you cannot carry out an annual gas service check you are not in breach of the Regulations where you have taken all reasonable steps to prevent that contravention. Given the current state of the Court system and the uniqueness of the current situation it is not unfathomable that reasonable steps would end with a final warning letter rather than seeking an access injunction (though we are happy to do such an Application).

Which Court is open near me and for what?

On the gov.uk website there is now a list of priority Courts. The Court system has enacted a 3 tier system, so Courts will either be:

  • Closed
  • Closed to the public but staffed
  • Staffed and open for limited business – such as emergencies

In respect of the Courts local to our clients please find the list below:

Court

Operational Status

Bristol

Open

Bodmin

Open

Bournemouth

Open

Exeter

Open

Plymouth

Open

Northampton

Closed but staffed

Salisbury

Closed

Swindon

Open

Taunton

Closed but staff

Truro

Open

Torquay and Newton Abbot

Closed but staffed

West Somerset (Weston-Super-Mare)

Closed but staffed

Weymouth

Closed but staffed

Yeovil

Closed but staffed

 

Even those Courts that are open have restrictions on what hearings they will be conducting. If your local Court is closed the Court Finder webpage will tell you what to do with a case that you would normally issue and have heard at that Court centre. However please bear with the Court service as this information needs updating for hundreds of Courts and Tribunals across the country so it may not be readily at hand as yet.

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