One of the many unfortunate and unforeseen consequences of the COVID-19 crisis has been its effect on the housing market. With letting agents and estate agents closed in line with government guidelines, and solicitors and removal firms similarly being forced to shut up shop for the time being, the property sector in the UK has effectively ground to a halt.
“Changes to people’s employment circumstances as the crisis continues have also had knock-on effects on their housing situation; many people who are no longer able to keep up with their rent payments are fearful of eviction, despite new government legislation designed to protect those who find themselves in a precarious financial situation at the present time.” – Housing Experts Zoom Property Buyer
And in the area of home improvements, there are many questions about what kind of work can go ahead at the moment, with businesses fearful of putting their employees at risk of contagion and consumers understandably reluctant to allow tradespeople into their homes to carry out repairs. Compounding this is a scarcity of supplies in the housing trade, which has led to inflated prices for some basic DIY materials.
In order to answer the questions that both businesses and consumers are likely to have around these issues during the COVID-19 crisis, Business Companion – a free online resource created by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) – has published a Coronavirus Bulletin focusing specifically on housing and home improvements. It contains reliable information and guidance, and will be updated regularly as the situation develops.
The Bulletin includes answers to questions landlords are likely to have around their responsibilities to tenants at the present time, highlighting the importance of communication between landlords and tenants and explaining the details of the Coronavirus Act 2020 as it applies to possessions and evictions.
It also explains best practice when it comes to allowing prospective tenants to view a property, including the use of web conferencing to enable properties to be viewed and inspected remotely.
In terms of repairs to rented properties, the bulletin discusses what kind of work should and shouldn’t be carried out at the moment, with only essential repairs being advised. In those circumstances, work carried out in people’s homes can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms. No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating, unless it is to remedy a safety issue.
Importantly, planned works which are not an ‘emergency’ – for example, installing solar panels or building an extension – should not go ahead.
For the non-rental housing sector, the bulletin also goes over the current policy around mortgage holidays, with links to accurate and up-to-date information from the government.
At a time of anxiety and confusion for many, the importance of clear, accurate information from dependable sources is more important than ever. Business Companion’s Coronavirus Bulletin has been created to address this, and makes for essential reading for anyone concerned about how coronavirus could affect their housing circumstances or business.