COVID-19 – An Update from O’Malley Property

22nd March 2019

As you will be aware we are in the midst of a pandemic outbreak of the highly infectious disease COVID-19. The outbreak in the UK now seems to be taking hold and all the news indicates that this is going to spread rapidly throughout the population over the coming weeks and months.

As a business we have been preparing for this outcome and have plans in place to be able to operate throughout this period, which include clear policies for our team members, working practices, remote working and lines of communication.

Are you suffering financial difficulty?

I know that many of you will be concerned about your job security, income and as a result may be worried about paying your rent and the security of your tenancy.

The first thing to do is not panic. This is likely to be temporary and will hopefully be over in a matter of weeks to a few months.

If you have lost your job, had your hours cut significantly or to zero hours, of if you are self isolating and on sick pay, all of these circumstances will affect your income and your ability to pay your rent. If you are experiencing these circumstances and have no savings to fall back on then you are most likely suffering financial difficulty.

What is the Government doing to help?

The government has said that there will be no evictions as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. It has said that landlords who have mortgages can seek to have their mortgage payments deferred – often referred to as a ‘Mortgage Holiday’ for up to three months.

What is a Mortgage Holiday?

It is important that tenants fully understand this aspect. Many tenants have written to me in the expectation that their landlords will effectively get ‘Three Months Free of Charge’. This is absolutely not the case. Your landlord will still have to pay back the money. Please consider this when you are considering whether or not you are able to pay your rent. Your landlord will still have to pay the mortgage albeit delayed. It is not being written off.

What do you need to do if you are experiencing financial difficulties?

As you may expect, we are receiving a large amount of emails from tenants who are in this position. The first thing to say is that if you are not experiencing financial difficulties, then please continue to pay your rent on time.

If you are in the unfortunate situation where you are experiencing financial difficulties, then you must get in touch with us immediately. Please email us on lettings@omalleyproperty.com

What do you need to provide us?

We need clear evidence of your changes or circumstances. This is vitally important and without this, we will not be able to give you any grace with being late with your rent. Your landlord will need this to be able to seek assistance from his or her mortgage lender.

What assistance can I get form the government?

We would urge all tenants to apply for Statutory Sick Pay and Universal Credit where you are eligible.

Tenants affected by Coronavirus who are concerned about paying their rent can claim Universal Credit from the Department for Work and Pensions which includes support for housing costs, if eligible. The UK government has introduced some temporary changes to make this easier. This website provides further information on applying for Universal Credit.

If a tenant is getting Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, but still can’t afford their housing costs, they may be eligible for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). Further information on DHPs and how to apply is available here.

Tenants may be able to get support through the Scottish Welfare Fund. Further information on how to apply is available here.

Assistance for the Elderly and Vulnerable

If you find yourself unable to leave the house or have anxiety about this, please get in touch with us. We are here to help you in any way we can. This could be for example to assist in collection of a medication from a pharmacy or delivering shopping to you if you need it. There is nothing we will not consider, so please get in touch with us as soon as possible if you require assistance. Email us on lettings@omalleyproperty.com.

Health & Hygiene

We would encourage all tenants to observe reasonable social distancing. It is recommended that you avoid busy places, keep at least 2 metres away from people and to avoid contact with the elderly and people who have symptoms.

If you display any symptoms of COVID-19, we would like you to please report this to O’Malley Property as soon as possible on lettings@omalleyproperty.com. You must immediately start to self-isolate and take advice from the NHS website.

Access for repairs, viewings, check outs and safety certificates

For all essential repairs and safety certificates, we would prefer that these continue to be done. Please arrange to be out of the property at the time. You can discuss this with our repairs team on lettings@omalleyproperty.com. We will be reducing non-essential repairs for the time being, we would welcome your understanding throughout the period of this outbreak.

We intend to do viewings while we can safely do so, our staff will all use hand sanitisers before and after viewings and will not touch anything in the property. Where the property is still tenanted, we would please request that you show flexibility and allow access, ideally if you can be out of the property that would be best. If the property is vacant then this is not an issue.

We intend to carry out check outs unattended, within 24 hours of you leaving the property in order to minimise unnecessary social contact.

These are all the main areas that I anticipate need attention. Obviously the welfare and health of our team members, tenants and landlords is paramount and we are taking all necessary precautions to deal with this awful situation.

In the meantime, please look after yourself and look out for others, especially the elderly.

24th March 2020

Covid-19 Tenant Advice on Essential Repairs & Maintenance During Lock Down

The Government has confirmed essential maintenance work can still be carried out in properties provided the tradesperson is well, has no symptoms and follows the Public Health Guidelines.

Gas Safe have issued guidance with regards to what works can still be carried out by their registered engineers in tenanted properties given the current circumstances.  Landlords still have a legal duty to repair and maintain gas pipework, flues and appliances in a safe condition and there must be an up to date annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue.  The latest restrictions on leaving the home currently allow Gas Safe registered gas engineers to undertake these essential works whilst taking the appropriate safety measures.

We will only deploy a contractor to your property if it is absolutely necessary and in line with The Repairing Standards legislation (https://www.mygov.scot/landlord-repairs/repairing-standard/).  We will ask both tenants and contractors beforehand whether they have a high temperature, a recent dry cough or have had any contact with anyone with symptoms.  All contractors will take the appropriate precautions listed below to avoid spreading or contracting the virus in a new setting.

Of course we will always look to have safety first when it comes to dealing with these types of issues, but please be aware we cannot send someone out for a task that is not an emergency and not an essential repair or we would be in breach of the new lock down legislation that has been put in place.

We would, however, still expect you to report any damage or issues within your property to allow us to record the information to ensure you do not have to cover the cost of any repair if left without notifying us.

We are still available on all normal  contact numbers and email addresses and you can also report any maintenance issues through our online portal which is available 24/7 here.

The O’Malley Property Letting Team