13
Apr
2020

Covid-19 – Advice for Tenants

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to change rapidly, and with this, so does the advice and guidance available for tenants.

The purpose of this page is to provide the most up to date information for tenants. We will update this page as and when new information and guidance becomes available.

Do I still have to pay rent?

Yes, you have a legal responsibility to pay rent for the property and if your circumstances have not changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, you are required to pay the rental amount to your letting agent, as normal on the agreed date.

Rent arrears

The ongoing pandemic and subsequent Government measures have left many businesses unable to operate. This has meant that some businesses are unable to pay employees full salary and in the very worst cases, left them unable to retain employees.

If your job and/or income has been affected and left you struggling to pay rent due to COVID-19, there are options to get help towards your rent.

Benefits and other financial support is available. You should look into this as soon as possible.

If you are already in receipt of benefits and your income changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Update your council in relation to your housing benefit
  • Report any changes to universal credit

You should also let your landlord or letting agent know as soon as possible if you are going to struggle to meet your rent payments and discuss possible options with them.

Benefits

You can get help with your rent if you are on a low wage and your employer reduces your hours or if you lose your job.

You can apply for universal credit. It’s important to make the claim as soon as possible.

It is also possible to get an advance if you need rent money before your first universal credit payment.

Find out more about universal credit here

Citizens Advice will also help with applications and you can reach them on 0800 023 2581

Evictions

The Scottish Government is bringing forward legislation to halt evictions in the private sector for up to 6 months.

More information will be available as soon as we have it.

Private Rented Tenancies 

The Housing and Property Chamber have announced that all hearings and case management discussions will be postponed from 19 March 2020.

This means there will be no new eviction orders granted for PRTs until 28 May 2020 at the earliest.

Repairs and access

With social distancing measures being put in place and self-isolation becoming the norm for a very many people, the subject of access to properties will come up.

Can the letting agent still go ahead with visits and inspections? 

The Government recommends that letting agents and tenants engage constructively about access to a property, and that it is only for serious and urgent issues.

This means that no one should visit the property to conduct viewings, or anything else which is not urgent and health and safety-related.

What about repairs? 

Landlords and letting agents have the same responsibilities for repairs during the COVID-19 outbreak. Continue to report repairs as soon as you can.

Entry should only take place however, to carry out urgent health and safety and maintenance works. Social distancing should always take place in line with Scottish Government’s guidance.

Urgent health and safety issues are those which will affect your ability to live safely and maintain your mental and physical health in the property. This could include (but is not limited to):

  • If there is a problem with the fabric of the building, for example the roof is leaking
  • If the boiler is broken, leaving you without heating or hot water
  • If there is a plumbing issue, meaning you  do not have washing or toilet facilities
  • If the white goods such as fridge or washing machine have broken, meaning you are unable to wash clothes or store food safely (where contractors are willing and available to carry out the work)
  • If there is a security-critical problem, such as a broken window or external door
  • If there is a problem that makes the house in any way unfit for human habitation

What about gas safety checks? 

Annual gas safety checks remain an important legal requirement, however these should be postponed until the crisis is over.

Moving out

Private residential tenancies

If you want to end your tenancy, you will still have to give 28 days notice in writing. The notice has to state the day on which the tenancy is to end, normally the day after notice period has expired.

Short assured and assured tenancies

You may still be on an older short assured or assured tenancy.

If you wish to leave before the end of your tenancy, you will need to check your tenancy agreement. Your tenancy agreement will state whether you can do this and how much notice you have to give.

If your tenancy agreement does not mention this, you may still be able to come to an arrangement with your landlord or letting agent.

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Coronavirus Update from Struan Baptie Property Management Ltd

As you will be aware we are in the midst of an outbreak of the coronavirus Covid-19. The Scottish Government has recommended that businesses take steps to allow its staff to work from home to reduce personal contact and to help reduce the spread of the virus.

We do not wish to take any risks with the health and wellbeing of our team and to that end, we are allowing staff to work from home. This will have some implications on our business for all our clients and tenants.

If you have a general enquiry please email contact@sb-pm.co.uk or if your query is in regards to rent please email melissa@sb-pm.co.uk

Of course if you know the email address of the person you wish to get in touch with, please email them directly. If you have the direct dial number of the team member you wish to speak to, this will forward to that person’s mobile phone. We urge you to communicate by email in the first instance. It will most likely be answered more quickly.

We aim to remain fully operational throughout this period. Rent processing will continue as normal and we will continue to deal with emergency repairs and maintenance and all aspects of property management. Routine property inspections, viewings and new tenancy agreements during this period will be postponed to a future date.

I trust that you understand why these precautions are necessary and appreciate your support.
Kind Regards,

Struan Baptie
Director