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.
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For added peace of mind, we thought we’d put together some FAQs which might help to answer your queries or concerns at this difficult time.
Following recent announcements confirming the re-opening of the English & Welsh Housing Markets, we have now opened the majority of our High Street branches in England & Wales in accordance with Government guidelines designed to protect our colleagues and customers. Please contact us by telephone or email before visiting to check we are open and that a colleague will be available. Where your preferred office is yet to reopen we are covering appointments remotely.
Restrictions in Scotland are being eased with our offices opening on Monday June 29th. Please contact us as usual via telephone or email.
Yes you can. And your safety and that of any incumbent tenants is our first priority. That is why; however 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 will not change 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 distant way at the property and virtually where we cannot facilitate this. Given the current significance of appearing appealable online if you haven’t you may want to consider our Premium Marketing Pack.
Yes – During lockdown and in compliance with govt. guidelines we helped to safely rehouse those tenants with an urgent need for accommodation. Over recent weeks we have noticed a marked increase in the number of prospective tenants looking to move. We are actively managing those enquiries and matching tenants with potential properties.
The Governments in England, Scotland & Wales have confirmed that subject to a number of restrictions individuals from the same household can view a property they are interested in. 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.
In Wales you can only view a property if it is unoccupied and has been empty for at least 3 days, or it has been thoroughly cleaned. It is not possible to view properties that are occupied. Please contact us for further details, including the availability of virtual viewings.
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.
Not for the time being. – Sales of RLP policies through our offices have been suspended whilst the policy underwriter assesses under what conditions the product can be re-introduced. This approach mirrors that seen across a number of insurance products in the market.
Yes – Rent remains payable. There is no automatic suspension of rental payments during the crisis.
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 Chat with us on our website or by emailing email@example.com. If you would like to speak with someone, please contact your local property management team.
Yes – In an update on June 5th Government 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”.
New rules are being considered “which will mean that courts are better able to address the need for appropriate protection of all parties, including those shielding from coronavirus. This is to ensure that judges have all the information necessary to make just decisions and that the most vulnerable tenants can get the help they need”.
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.
Yes – From March landlords with a buy-to-let mortgage have been able to apply to their lender for a 3 month mortgage holiday. In May this was extended for a further 3 months. Mortgage payment holidays are not automatic with eligibility assessed on a case by case basis. The sum owed remains payable and continues to accrue interest. Please check with your lender before extending support to your tenant based on the suspension of mortgage payments.
We understand the Scottish Govt. is establishing a fund for private landlords experiencing difficulties in obtaining rent as a result of the crisis. Loans will be interest-free and payments deferred.
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.
No – On June 5th Government extended the suspension of new evictions until August 23rd 2020.
Effective March 26th 2020 landlords are required to serve their tenant with 3 months’ notice of their intention to seek possession as opposed to the usual 2.
Government has also announced that new rules are being considered “which will mean that courts are better able to address the need for appropriate protection of all parties, including those shielding from coronavirus. This is to ensure that judges have all the information necessary to make just decisions and that the most vulnerable tenants can get the help they need”.
No – Effective April 7th the minimum notice period for the service of notice seeking possession was extended to 6 months. A shorter notice period of 3 months applies where possession is required by the landlord for his own occupation or as a result of antisocial or criminal behaviour.
The First Tier Tribunal will not be sitting until May 28th. This may be subject to extension.
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 was an immediate priority as lockdown was announced. 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.
The requirement for all new tenancies and most renewals commencing July 1st 2020 to have an Electrical Inspection Condition Report (EICR) remains unchanged. If we manage your property we will be in touch with you shortly. In the meantime please contact us if you have any questions.
No - Our usual cycle of routine property inspections has been suspended in order to protect the safety of tenants and colleagues alike. We are revisiting this policy at the end of June in line with the Governments lockdown restriction review phasing. If you have any individual concerns please discuss them with your property manager.