Sales: Open House is a trading name of Countrywide Estate Agents, Registered in England Number 00789476, Registered Office: Greenwood House, 1st Floor, 91-99 New London Road, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 0PP.
Copyright © 2021 Countrywide plc
For added peace of mind, we thought we’d put together some advice & FAQs which might help to answer your queries or concerns at this difficult time.
Official government advice across England, Scotland and Wales is that the housing market should remain open subject to adherence of published safety guidelines. You can therefore still move home during the current lockdown. Estate and letting agents and removal firms can continue to work.
Where possible colleagues we will be working from home. Where this isn’t possible our branches will be staffed in order to assist with your home move.
Access to our offices will be by appointment only and so please ensure that you make arrangements with us via telephone or email before you visit to ensure that a colleague will be available to assist you. Please remember that you are required to wear a face covering before entering our premises and when attending appointments.
Yes – We are here to assist both with your immediate requirements and where you are considering letting at some point in the future. Your safety and that of any incumbent tenants is our first priority. If you would like us to carry out a valuation we have the tools to help you. We can visit your property to carry out a safe and socially distant valuation, but we also recognise that for some Landlords you may not want an agent in your property. We can still offer you an accurate valuation remotely based on the latest market conditions. . Please use the “Get a free valuation” icon on our website or contact your local branch, we are here to help however you want to move forward.
This is one of the things that has not changed significantly. We will make sure that your property appears on all of the property portals, Rightmove, Zoopla, and Prime Location. Your property will also appear on our Websites. Remember that 90% of people start their house search online and with more people at home this may well increase. We still have new tenants registering with us every day and we are carrying out viewings in a safe and socially distanced way at the property and virtually where we cannot facilitate this.
Yes – we are helping to safely rehouse tenants in rising numbers.
Yes - Virtual viewings should be used whenever possible to help limit the number of viewings you need to arrange. Prior to the appointment we will provide you with details of how it will be conducted and what is required to help keep everyone safe.
Likely impact to the UK's housing market is as yet unknown. We continue to monitor activity within the lettings sector to and keep our clients as fully informed as possible.
Yes – Sales of RLP policies through our offices have now restarted
Yes – Rent remains payable. There is no automatic suspension of rental payments during the Pandemic.
We have advised tenants that if they are having trouble paying rent then they should discuss this with you as soon as possible. Where payments are made to us, your tenant has been advised to contact us by emailing email@example.com. If you would like to speak with someone, please contact your local property management team.
Yes – Government has confirmed that: ”landlords and tenants should work together and exhaust all possible options – such as flexible payment plans which take into account a tenant’s individual circumstances – to ensure cases only end up in court as an absolute last resort”.
This will understandably depend on the landlord's personal circumstances but there is an expectation from govt. that landlords will, where possible, agree to payment plans. In agreeing to a payment plan rent is not waived but delayed by an agreed amount for a set period of time. The balance is either repaid on an agreed date or spread over the remaining period of the tenancy. An unreasonable failure to do so could prejudice a landlords’ ability to gain possession.
You should defer to your cover provider to establish details of any restrictions applicable to your policy as a result of the current crisis. If you have arranged cover through us then please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes – The stay on possession proceedings ended on September 20th. Proceedings involving excessive rent arrears and anti-social behaviour are being prioritised (See advice below on Bailiff Evictions)
In England, notice under Sections 21 and S8 of the Housing Act has been extended to 6 months until March 31st 2021. A number of exceptions apply, including reducing the notice period to 4 weeks under Section 8 where a tenant is more than 6 months in arrears. Please ask your local branch for further information.
Notice periods in Wales remain at 6 months.
Bailiff Evictions - England
There is a ban on evictions until February 21st 2021 in all but the most extreme of circumstances. These include where 9 months of rent arrears accrued before March 23rd 2020. Arrears accrued after March 23rd 2020 whilst still payable are disregarded in respect of the 9-month threshold.
Bailiff Evictions - Wales
A temporary ban on evictions is in place until March 31st 2021 at the earliest.
Yes - A temporary ban on evictions is in place until March 31st 2021 at the earliest.
Yes – Your tenants can give notice by emailing email@example.com. When we have received their notice, we will contact you to let you know.
Yes – Supporting tenants and landlords in the properties we manage remains a priority. Landlords and tenants can contact us on the usual property management telephone number.
The easiest way for tenants to report repairs is through our website. They will also receive helpful advice on what to do in an emergency. Our property management centres work with an extensive bank of contractors. At the date of this update, most are working as normal and therefore able to undertake essential maintenance and safety inspections.
With properties managed by us, the contractor will call the tenant directly to arrange access to help ensure the safety of all concerned. Tenants should advise them of any self-isolation or illness within the household. When providing access, social distancing protocols should are observed. If the tenant is transferring keys they should do so in a secure envelope ensuring they are sanitised before and after use. Where keys are held at our local office they can be collected by the contractor by prior appointment.
Where the property is managed by us, we are reminding tenants that renewal of the annual Gas Safety Record is an important part of keeping them safe in their home. Government has confirmed that tenants should, where it is safe to do so, allow access for inspections to take place.
Your tenant should where reasonable and safe, continue to allow access for repairs and safety inspections. If access is refused then efforts to undertake repairs and carry out safety inspections should be carefully documented and regularly followed up until the work has been completed.
With the exception of where arrangements have been made for us to visit vacant properties, no property inspections will be conducted at tenanted properties whilst lockdown restrictions remain in place. For further information please contact your property manager.