Landlord Focus (COVID-19 edition)

Updated November 2021

Landlord Focus is the Private Sector Housing Team’s e-newsletter for providing news and relevant information for landlords, letting and managing agents in Reading. As the coronavirus pandemic continues, we aim to keep you up to date with the latest government guidance and with alterations to our services that may affect you.

We have collated the most relevant information for landlords and agents. We hope you will find the articles in this issue useful and informative. If you have any comments or ideas for future editions, please email us at:

Remember the key messages from the government:

  • Let fresh air in if you meet indoors. Meeting outdoors is safer
  • Wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet
  • Get tested and self-isolate if required
  • If you haven’t already, get vaccinated

Visiting properties

There are times when you, your contractors, and council officers may need to visit occupied properties despite current restrictions, and each situation needs to be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

Council officers continue to follow a risk assessment for our visits, which may involve us asking questions before we visit.

The advice is that landlords can carry out repairs and complete their safety inspections provided they are carried out in line with public health advice and relevant coronavirus legislation.

Clinically vulnerable, and extremely clinically vulnerable people can allow landlords to carry out routine tasks as long as they are not self-isolating, and social distancing measures are put in place. However, some tenants may still be uncomfortable letting people into their homes and landlords should respect this.

When arranging any visits, always ask your tenants if they are self-isolating, or are showing any covid symptoms, and whether they are vulnerable. Even where tenants do not fall into a vulnerable group, social distancing must still be carried out wherever practical i.e. keep 2 metres apart; perhaps ask residents to stay in their rooms during the visit; clean any surfaces that you touch; and keep the area of work well ventilated.

We expect landlords to make every effort to meet their responsibilities to maintain their properties in good repair and free from hazards, but we do understand the difficulties that may be faced and will take a realistic approach to enforcement.  Please document your attempts to carry out your duties and your communications with all relevant people.

For urgent safety work a visit might be needed even where the tenant is vulnerable or isolating. Take time to explain the reasons for any visit and the precautions that will be put in place to protect both the occupants and the person visiting. You should also make sure your contractors are aware of and are carrying out safe working practices whilst in your employment. 

More detailed guidance on working safely in people’s homes is available here:

Safety checks

Annual gas safety checks and other essential safety tasks such as the annual inspection and test of the fire detection and emergency lighting systems, and electrical safety inspections, should still be done.

If, despite reasonable efforts, it is not possible to complete all these checks at the usual time, you should keep a written record of the problems found and the steps you have taken to overcome them.  For example, your record might include discussions you have had with tenants and the details of contractors you have contacted to try to complete works.  The key thing is to take all reasonable steps to comply with your duties.

Further up to date advice on gas safety checks can be found on the Gas Safe Register website at:


Landlords have a duty to maintain cleanliness of communal areas in HMOs, but regular cleaning also plays a vital role in limiting the transmission of COVID-19.  This can be more difficult in a multi-household property.

As more frequent cleaning is likely to be needed at this time, we recommend leaving appropriate cleaning products at the property in shared accommodation and for cleaning of communal areas, with suitable instructions.  Usually household products will be adequate, but make sure the manufacturer’s instructions are available. In some instances, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) might apply.

If a person becomes ill in a shared space, these areas should be cleaned using disposable cloths and household detergents. Any upholstered items such as furniture and mattresses can effectively be steam cleaned. Wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning.

General advice on cleaning during the pandemic is available here:

New tenancies

People are free to move home during the current national restrictions, provided they do so in line with public health advice and current coronavirus legislation.  House viewings can take place, although virtual viewings prior to visits in person should be used where possible.  No viewings should take place if either the tenants or the people viewing are showing covid symptoms or are self-isolating.

Managing agents should normally accompany people viewing properties and should ensure that all social distance guidelines are followed.  People viewing homes should wear suitable face coverings (unless exempt) and all internal doors and windows should be opened in advance of the visit to improve ventilation and reduce the need to touch surfaces.

Tenants’ safety should be the priority of letting agents and landlords.

Right to rent checks

Under normal circumstances, landlords or their agents must meet with prospective new tenants, to check their documentation and eligibility to live in the UK.  The rules have been relaxed until at least April 2022 to allow alternative methods of verification.  

Guidance on right to rent checks is available at:

Ending tenancies

The provisions in the Coronavirus Act 2020 – which increased the normal two-month notice period for seeking possession to three months – were extended. However the increased notice period rules and the ban on possession proceedings have now expired.  Landlords will now be able to take their possession claim to the courts and bailiffs are also operating, though with some changes in procedures.  Courts will prioritise cases, such as those involving anti-social behaviour and other crimes. 

See the relevant guidance for more details at:

Help and support

The government has issued a range of assistance to businesses, some of this assistance is directed through the council.

For further advice see

If you are concerned about making your mortgage payments during this time you should look at your lender’s website. This will be updated with the latest information, including FAQs, which can answer many queries.

The Money Advice Service also has information on what to do when your mortgage payment holiday has ended:

The council is coordinating with a range of groups to offer help to those who are vulnerable and most in need via the One Reading Community Hub. 

More information at:

Sources of information

The situation and the guidance are changing rapidly, do keep up to date online on the best advice:

Sector specific advice is offered by the NRLA:

For providers of temporary accommodation: