What renters looking for a new property need to know
Renters searching for a new home are now allowed to visit properties to view them but must ensure their viewings are conducted as safely as possible.
Although the Government has re-opened the rental market, many renters are nervous about viewing properties, and about letting people in to look around their current homes.
Remember that even if your fixed tenancy has ended, your landlord can’t force you to leave your home and must apply for a possession order if you don’t want to leave.
If they have provided you with an eviction notice since 26 March, you must usually have been given three months’ notice as a minimum for most types of tenancy.
Here’s what you need to know if you’re renting and on the move.
Take care when viewing properties
If you’re nervous about visiting rental properties, or have to shield or self-isolate, ask the agent if they offer virtual viewings, 3D tours or if there’s the possibility of being shown round the property via a video link.
If you aren’t vulnerable and can view properties in person, it’s a good idea to wear protective clothing such as a mask and gloves. You should also make sure you adhere to social distancing measures if anyone is present in the property, and wash your hands thoroughly before and after each viewing.
The full Government guidance is available here.
Where do I stand if my landlord wants prospective tenants viewing my rented property?
If you’ve given your landlord notice that you want to leave your home, they will want to start marketing their property to prospective new tenants.
If you or someone in your home is vulnerable and has been advised not to have contact with others, or if one of you is shielding, self-isolating or recovering from coronavirus, you should let your landlord know that people can’t visit the property.
If your contract says you have to allow viewings, your landlord could take you to court if you refuse them, but according to Citizens Advice, if viewing would put you at risk, the court would be unlikely to force you to let people in.
If you can’t currently allow viewings, you might be able to help your landlord market the property in other ways, for example by filming a video of the property that they can show prospective tenants.
If you aren’t self-isolating or vulnerable, and don’t have to shield, you can still refuse viewings, but if this breaches your contract and there’s no valid reason you don’t want people to enter, your landlord may be able to enforce access through an injunction or making a claim for possession.
They may also be able to serve a ‘no fault eviction’ Section 21 notice, which does not require them to prove that they are acting reasonably.
Managing viewings at your own rented property
If you’re comfortable with viewings going ahead, or your landlord has enforced access, there are several steps you can take to help minimise the risk of the virus spreading whilst they are conducted.
First, make sure you leave any internal doors open, so that anyone visiting the property doesn’t have to touch the door handles.
Unless you have to be at home, try and leave the property when viewings are taking place. If you do need to be there, perhaps because you are working there, make sure you stick to social distancing guidelines and keep at least two metres away from any visitors.
Finally, make sure you wipe clean any surfaces that people might have touched whilst viewing the property and give your hands a thorough wash afterwards.
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