Covid-19 Update

COVID-19 Update - Version 12, Updated 02/11/2020

With new Lockdown rules coming into play on Thursday 5th November, we can reassure you that it’s business as usual.

The Government has advised that the housing market can continue to operate and that home moves and viewings may continue to take place. Of course, there are some restrictions. Therefore, whilst we are returning to Lockdown, our offices will remain open, albeit behind closed doors. We are experienced, prepared, well versed, and ready to support you throughout the moving process.  

Advice & FAQs

For added peace of mind, we thought we’d put together some advice & FAQs which might help to answer your queries or concerns at this difficult time.

Landlord FAQs

  • Will your offices be working during the national lockdown? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    Yes - We will be working as usual but from behind closed doors between Thursday November 5th and Wednesday December 2nd.  Our colleagues remain available via telephone and email with viewings and market appraisals still possible subject to a number of enhanced controls.       

  • Is it possible to have a market appraisal on my property? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    Yes, you can. And your safety and that of any incumbent tenants is our first priority. That is why; however you would like us to carry out a Valuation we have the tools to help you. We can visit your property to carry out a safe and socially distant valuation, but we also recognise that for some Landlords you may not want an agent in your property. We can still offer you an accurate valuation remotely based on the latest market conditions. Please use the “Get a free valuation” icon on our website or contact your local office, we are here to help, however you want to move forward.

  • Is my property still being marketed for let? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    This is one of the things that has not changed significantly. We will make sure that your property appears on all of the property portals, Rightmove, Zoopla, and Prime Location. Your property will also appear on our Websites. Remember that 90% of people start their house search online and with more people at home this may well increase. We still have new tenants registering with us every day and we are carrying out viewings in a safe and socially distant way at the property and virtually where we cannot facilitate this.

  • Are tenants still looking to rent? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    Yes –We are helping to safely rehouse tenants in rising numbers. 

  • Can potential tenants view my property? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    Yes - Virtual viewings should be used whenever possible to help limit the number of viewings you need to arrange. Prior to the appointment we will provide you with details of how it will be conducted and what is required to help keep everyone safe.      

  • Will the pandemic affect rental values? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    The 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.

  • When my property is let, can I still take out Rent & Legal Protection (RLP) insurance through you? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    Not at present. – 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.

    We are hopeful that sales will commence soon. Please contact your local office for further information.  

  • Does my tenant need to continue paying my rent during the outbreak? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

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

  • What if my tenant can’t afford to pay rent? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    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 londonandprestige@countrywide.co.uk. If you would like to speak with someone, please contact your local property management team.

  • Am I under an obligation to help if my tenant is having trouble paying rent? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    Yes – Government has confirmed that: “Landlords and tenants should work together and exhaust all possible options – such as flexible payment plans which take into account a tenant’s individual circumstances – to ensure cases only end up in court as an absolute last resort”.  

  • What kind of help can landlords provide if their tenant is having trouble paying my rent? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    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.    

  • I have a Rent & Legal Protection policy. Can I claim during the crisis? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    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.

  • Can I evict my tenant during the crisis? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    Yes – The stay on possession proceedings ended on September 20th. Proceedings involving excessive rent arrears and anti-social behaviour are being prioritised.     

    In England notice under Sections 21 and S8 of the Housing Act has been extended to 6 months until March 31st 2020.  A number of exceptions apply, including reducing the notice period to 4 weeks under Section 8 where a tenant is more than 6 months in arrears.  Please ask your local office for further information.    

  • Can my tenants give notice? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

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

  • Is your property management department open? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    Yes – Supporting tenants and landlords in the properties we manage remains a priority. . Landlords and tenants can contact us on the usual property management telephone number.

  • What about undertaking property repairs? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    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.

  • What about contractors accessing the property during the pandemic? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    With properties managed by us, the contractor will call the tenant directly to arrange access to help ensure the safety of all concerned. 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 keys are held at our local office they can be collected by the contractor by prior appointment.

  • What if the Gas Safety Record needs to be renewed during the crisis? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    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. Government has confirmed that tenants should, where it is safe to do so, allow access for inspections to take place.

  • What if my tenant is self-isolating or refuses access to the property? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    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.

  • Are you still doing property inspections? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    Subject to local lockdown restrictions we have recommenced our usual cycle of routine property inspections.  Inspections in England during the November 5th to December 2nd lockdown will be prioritised and kept to a minimum.  As we work through the inevitable backlog created by COVID-19 restrictions please do not hesitate to contact your property manager if you have any individual concerns.   

  • Will you keep me updated on any changes relating to the crisis? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

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

Tenant FAQs

  • Will your offices be working during the national lockdown? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    Yes - We will be working as usual but from behind closed doors between Thursday November 5th and Wednesday December 2nd.  Our colleagues remain available via telephone and email with viewings and market appraisals still possible subject to a number of enhanced controls.       

  • Can you help find a property to rent? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    Yes - You can access details of available properties on our website. For further information please use the “arrange a viewing” icon or contact your local office.

  • What about viewing property? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    Virtual viewings should be used whenever possible to help limit the number of viewings you need to arrange. Prior to the appointment we will provide you with details of how it will be conducted and what is required to help keep everyone safe.   

    In England revised guidance relating to the lockdown between November 5th and December 2nd includes:  i. Adherence to social distancing rules ii. Wearing PPE e.g. face coverings iii. Occupiers leaving the property during a viewing iv. Viewings should be limited to 15 minutes v. As few people as possible should be at the property.       

  • How will viewing be conducted safely? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    The safety of our clients, applicants, colleagues and the wider community remains our primary consideration. Prior to an appointment, we will provide you with details of how it will be conducted and what is required to help keep everyone safe.

  • Do I need to continue paying my rent during the outbreak? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

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

  • What if I can’t afford to pay my rent? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    If you are having trouble paying your rent it is important that you discuss this with your landlord as soon as possible.  If you make payments to us then please email londonandprestige@countrywide.co.uk

  • Can my landlord help me if I’m having trouble paying my rent? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    Government has an expectation that landlords will, where reasonably possible, support tenants in difficulty. Any support they can offer may well be dictated by their own personal circumstances.

  • What help might a landlord be able to provide if I’m having trouble paying my rent? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    This will depend on your landlords personal circumstances but might include allowing you to make reduced/ deferred payments by way of a payment plan. If this happens it is important that you don’t breach the terms of the plan.

  • Can you help me if I’m having trouble paying my rent? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    Where we manage the property and collect rent we can speak with your landlord on your behalf. We are unable to agree payment terms on your landlord’s behalf and we need their consent to change any rental payments. When contacting us in relation to rental payments please do so by email to londonandprestige@countrywide.co.uk or via the "Chat with Us" link on the right-hand side.

  • Can I pay my rent by card? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    Yes - Your local office is able to process a payment for you.

  • Is other help available for tenants who are experiencing trouble in paying their rent? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    Yes – I you are in difficulty and need further help this is available from your local authority, Shelter, Citizens Advice and The Money Advice Service.  If you are eligible for Legal Aid you can contact Civil Legal Advice for free and confidential advice.

  • Can I be evicted from my home during the crisis? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    Yes - The stay on possession proceedings in England & Wales ended on September 20th 2020.  Possession hearings will be prioritised with those involving excessive rent arears and anti-social behaviour heard first.     

  • What if a repair is required at the property during the pandemic? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    Government has confirmed that landlords are required to repair the property and undertake routine inspections as usual. Similarly, tenants are required to provide access to the property for this purpose subject to Government guidance around infection, shielding and self-isolating. 

  • What about reporting repairs? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    The fastest and easiest way to ensure that we are notified of a repair when we manage the property is by logging onto our website – choose “Rent” – “Report a Repair”. You will also receive helpful advice on what to do in an emergency.  Like many employers, we are operating new working practices to keep our teams safe by keeping them at the required social distance.  However, you can still contact us on our usual property management number.

  • What if I’m notified that the Gas Safety Record needs to be renewed? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    Government has confirmed that renewal of the annual Gas Safety Record is an important part of keeping you safe in your home. This includes checks for carbon monoxide production. Carbon monoxide is a colourless odourless gas that can quickly kill, hence it often being referred to as the “Silent Killer”.  Allowing access for the inspection to take place subject to Government guidance around infection, shielding and self-isolating is important. 

    Please remember to test any smoke and carbon monoxide alarms fitted at the property on a weekly basis.

  • What about contractors accessing the property? Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down

    To ensure your safety and that of the contractor, they will call you directly to arrange access. Please advise them of any self-isolation or illness within the household. When providing access ensure that social distancing protocols are observed. If keys are transferred do so in a secure envelope ensuring they are sanitised before and after use.

Useful Information

  • Fire Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down
    • If you smell smoke or see fire call 999 immediately.
    • If living in a development of flats ensure that you are familiar with building evacuation protocols in the event of a fire.
  • Gas Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down
    • If you smell gas or think there may be a leak, open windows and doors and leave the property immediately. Do not turn on lights or light a cigarette.
    • Call the National Grid straight away on 0800 111 999, nationlagrid.com.
    • If in doubt call 999 immediately.
  • No Electricity/ Supply Tripping Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down
    • Check there is sufficient credit on the meter if you have a pre-payment meter.
    • Check with your neighbours and/ or your energy provider to establish if there is a problem in your area.
    • If your electricity keeps tripping (going off) turn off/ unplug appliances gradually turning them back on until the supply trips. This should highlight the problem device.
    • If the problem persists report the problem to us where we manage the property.
  • Burst Pipes Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down
    • Turn off the water supply at the stopcock.
    • Use containers to try and catch the water.
    • If the water is close to electricity supplies or appliances immediately switch off the electricity supply at the mains.
  • Loss of Water Supply Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down
    • Check if your neighbours have the same problem
    • Check if the water authority serving your area has turned off the supply.
    • Contact the supplier if the problem persists.
  • Lack of heating/ hot water Chevron Down IconIcon set Chevron Down
    • The majority of problems can usually be rectified with reference to the manufacturer’s instructions. Copy instruction manuals are readily available online.
    • Check that thermostats and timers haven’t inadvertently been adjusted.
    • With gas boilers try re-setting the pilot and re-pressurising the system with reference to the instruction manual.
    • If you have a hot water cylinder check to see if it has an immersion heater that you can use until the boiler is repaired.
    • If the problem persists report the problem to us where we manage the property.