First, consider whether the work is essential or if it can be delayed until after the lockdown.
Most routine inspections should be delayed unless it is an inspection relating to a legal obligation, like gas or electrical safety inspections or reports of a repair being needed.
Landlords are still under a legal obligation to keep their property in good repair and ensure inspections are performed. However, this must be balanced against the risk of infection and spread of the virus.
Latest guidance for Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICR)
Landlords have until 1st April 2021 to ensure rental properties have a valid EICR with any remedial works already carried out, and copies of this paperwork given to tenants.
The pandemic has not changed this legal obligation.
Landlords must obtain a valid EICR with a ‘satisfactory’ rating from a qualified electrician. It must be given to the prospective tenant before their tenancy agreement commences, or to existing tenants within 28 days of the electrical inspection.
If a landlord cannot arrange the initial checks or follow-up work, they must demonstrate they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with the law.
Latest guidance for gas safety checks
Landlords have a legal duty of care to their tenants to repair and maintain gas pipework, flues and appliances in a safe condition and to ensure an annual gas safety check is performed.
During lockdown, landlords should not suspend all gas safety checks as it will put tenants at risk, especially as people are spending most of their time at home.
However there is a balance between keeping people protected from potentially fatal gas-related risks, and also from Covid-19. Therefore, considered each property on a case-by-case basis, completing safety checks where tenants permit access and gas engineers are available.
If a landlord cannot arrange gas checks, they must demonstrate they have taken all reasonable steps to comply.
How does a landlord show they have taken reasonable steps to comply?
If you cannot carry out the appropriate checks or remedial works, because the tenants are self-isolating, refuse access, or due to shortages of inspectors, then you should show reasonable steps to perform works.
Keep copies of all communications with your tenants and tradespeople showing you have tried to arrange the work, including replies.
It is advised to provide evidence you have that the appliance or flue is in a good condition while you attempt to arrange works.
You should seek to arrange the safety checks as soon as all parties are available.
How can I arrange repairs or safety inspections safely during lockdown?
Repairs and inspections can be performed provided Government guidance for people working in homes is followed.
That means ensuring everyone follows social distancing practices and the inspector, tenants, or landlord are not symptomatic at the time.
If a visit is essential then you should ensure tenants understand social distancing and hygiene measures required.
Anyone self-isolating should not have any visitors unless the repair work would prevent a threat to their safety or life.
If the tenant is self-isolating, you should cancel any planned visits or inspections and rearrange them for a suitable time. You should ensure this is documented.
If possible, you should arrange safety inspections while the tenant is not home to limit the risk of infection.
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