Selling or buying a property

Q: I am worried my property won’t sell, should I remove it from the market?

A: It is understandable to have concerns about the market at the moment, but please be assured we are continuing to showcase your property to our database of buyers, through our branch network and online.  Rightmove has stated they are expecting a higher volume of traffic than normal whilst more people are working from home, so it may be a very busy time for enquiries.

Q: Are buyers less likely to buy now?

A: We are continuing to receive enquiries and viewing requests from potential buyers. We will ensure that a seller is notified of any interest.

Q: Are you still allowing viewings to take place in person?

A: The safety of our team and the public is our utmost concern, and as such, viewings will not be possible for all of our clients’ properties. However, there may be situations where it is possible to view a property subject to us following strict Home Visit Guidelines and Social Distancing.  We will ask specific questions of you prior to agreeing a viewing. This will help us identify any potential risks. If a risk is identified the viewing will be postponed until it is safe.  In some scenarios we may be able to arrange a video stream or virtual viewing with the agreement of the seller.  High quality digital photography and floor plans can be found on our website including a thorough description of every property, if you have any questions about specific listings, our senior managers will be contactable between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Friday via email and phone.

Q: On completion of my purchase, how will I be able to collect my keys if branches are closed?

A: Whilst our branches are closed, we have comprehensive plans in place for property completions to ensure you get access to your new home!  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the negotiator you have been working with.

Letting a property as a landlord

Q: What is the current situation with letting new properties?

A: Virtual viewings can be arranged where needed. We do have applicants registered that are still looking to move home and will continue to follow government guidelines and advice. If you have any questions about specific listings, our senior managers will be contactable between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Friday via email and phone.

Q: My tenant is self-isolating, I can’t arrange maintenance of my property, and some of the warranties are at risk of running out. What should I do?

A: If you are a fully managed landlord, supported by us, please make contact in the usual way.

For information, some warranties (which may have a time restriction) could be unaffected and we could contact your warranty provider to gain confirmation of this in writing. We can then reschedule a contractor or update the Warranty provider once the self-isolation period has ended.

We are able to provide tenants with government guidance on the standard of cleaning that should be carried out at the property, once they are through their period of illness.

If you manage a property yourself, we suggest you follow the points above.

Q: I am worried that my tenants will not be able to pay their rent soon. What should I do?

A: Measures to protect tenants from eviction have been announced in England, Scotland and Wales

On 18 March 2020 the UK Government confirmed, in relation to England:

  • Emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation while this national emergency is taking place
  • No new possession proceedings through applications to the court to start during the crisis
  • Landlords will also be protected as 3-month mortgage payment holiday is extended to Buy to Let mortgages.

At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.

Q: I could lose money if a tenant (who has already given notice) self isolates and I can’t arrange viewings for a new tenant. What are you going to do about this? Can I claim money back from the deposit?

A: It is anticipated that any tenant who self-isolates will continue to pay rent for the duration of their stay and therefore rent should continue to be paid.

Tenants are being instructed to advise us as soon as their self-isolation has ended and we can then, ensure that the tenant has cleaned the property to the required standard and, begin marketing the property. We will endeavour to begin this as soon as is possible to limit any financial impact on you.

Whether landlords can offset costs such as this against the security deposit will depend on the terms of the tenancy agreement in place.

Q: Do we have to disclose that a previous tenant had Coronavirus?

A: No. Where a previous tenant had the illness, the focus should be on ensuring that the property has been cleaned in accordance with government guidance. We will be encouraging potential applicants to apply their common sense and accept that there is very little risk provided that the property has been cleaned to the standard set out in government guidance.

Q: What are your recommendations in relation to the deep cleaning of a rental property following a tenant’s self-isolation?

A: The Government has issued guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings. Landlords may wish to supplement the cleaning, but this would be at their own cost.

Q: I am worried that I won’t be able to let my property, should I remove it from the market?

A: It is understandable to have concerns about the market at the moment, but please be assured we are continuing to showcase your property to our database of tenants, through our branch network and online.  Rightmove has stated they are expecting a higher volume of traffic than normal whilst more people are working from home, so it may be a very busy time for enquiries.

Q: Are tenants less likely to move now?

A: We are continuing to receive enquiries and viewing requests from potential tenants. We will ensure that a Landlord is notified of any interest.

Q: Are you still allowing viewings to take place in person?

A: The safety of our team and the public is our utmost concern, and as such, viewings will not be possible for all of our clients’ properties. However, there may be situations where it is possible to view a property subject to us following strict Home Visit Guidelines and social distancing.  We will ask specific questions of you prior to agreeing a viewing. This will help us identify any potential risks. If a risk is identified the viewing will be postponed until it is safe.  In some scenarios we may be able to arrange a video stream or virtual viewing with the agreement of the Landlord.  High quality digital photography can be found on our website including a thorough description of every property.

Q: On completion of any let, how will I be able to handover the keys if branches are closed?

A: Whilst our branches are closed, we have comprehensive plans in place for agreements to ensure tenants can access your property.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the manager or negotiator you have been working with.

Renting a property

Q: I am just about to rent a property through you and the Balham branch I am dealing with closes due to Coronavirus. How do I manage to get into the property?

A: We will make alternative arrangements for the keys to be available i.e. from the landlord direct or from a sub branch.

Q: I have decided to self-isolate and therefore need to cancel any non-essential maintenance visits. How do I do this?

A: Tenants who are self-isolating are encouraged to make contact with us in the usual way via our head office, your local lettings office or direct to your landlord. We can then ensure that your recovery time is not interrupted by repair or maintenance activity. This will be re-scheduled for a time after the expiry of your period of self-isolation.

When you are feeling better you should clean the property following the government guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings.

Q: If, as a tenant, I have a serious property maintenance issue, how will you manage this if your branch is shut or your contractors are self-isolating?

A: Our Property Manager handles maintenance issues for landlords who subscribe to this service. Our Property Manager operates away from our branch network and is currently fully equipped to handle all enquiries. Contingency plans have been drawn up should this situation change.

We have a comprehensive panel of contractors to support us with maintenance issues.

For landlords who attend to their own repairs and maintenance issues, we recommend that they review the following government publications and check-ahead with their tenant(s) prior to visiting their property.

Self-Isolation Guidance

Stay at home guidance for people with confirmed or possible coronavirus

Q: I have just returned from holiday and as per government advice, I am self-isolating despite showing no symptoms. I would like to view a property is there a way I can do this remotely?

A: It might be possible for us to arrange a video stream or virtual viewing, subject to landlord consent. Please contact us directly and we will try to help.

Q: What about resident tenants, where their tenancy is coming to an end. Do they have the option to refuse visits from prospective tenants?

A: Tenants in residence, where the tenancy is coming to an end, would not be able to limit our access unless they are self-isolating due to illness. We are advising that if they have concerns about any viewings that they leave the property while they are being conducted and that they ensure that any internal doors are left open so that neither we nor our viewers have to touch any door handles. We would also recommend that they continue to follow rigid cleaning routines.

Q: I am due to vacate my rental property in 7 days but have to self-isolate for the next 14 days. What should I do?

A: It is important that you make contact with us in the usual way via our Head Office, your local lettings office or direct to your landlord so that we are aware that check-out will be delayed and we can advise others who may be affected by this delay i.e. the next tenant.

We will then arrange a revised check-out date with you and will be able to advise what further rent will be required to ‘cover’ the extended rental period.

When you are feeling better you should clean the property following the government guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings. If you don’t, you risk the cost of cleaning being deducted from your security deposit.

Q: I am due to rent a property and have found out that the existing tenant is now self-isolating, and I will not be able to end their tenancy by the time I need to start mine? What will happen in this case? I am worried I may be homeless

A: It is important that you make contact with us so that we can update you on the timings of the check-out of the existing tenant. We are hopeful that any disruption will be short term, but we will need to discuss the issues with you so that you are best placed to manage your accommodation during any period of waiting.

Q: I am worried, because of the coronavirus that I will lose my job and won’t be able to afford my rent and could be evicted. What should I do?

A: If you have any concerns about your current tenancy, we recommend that you follow the usual communication route via Head Office, your local lettings office or direct to your landlord.

Measures to protect tenants from eviction have been announced in England, Scotland and Wales

On 18 March 2020 the UK Government confirmed, in relation to England:

  • Emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation while this national emergency is taking place
  • No new possession proceedings through applications to the court to start during the crisis
  • Landlords will also be protected as 3-month mortgage payment holiday is extended to Buy to Let mortgages

Mortgages

Q: The chancellor has recently pledged mortgage support for households affected by the coronavirus by offering payment holidays for up to three months. Can you tell me now this will work?

A: Whilst the chancellor has made this announcement, no specific details have been provided as to which mortgage lenders have agreed to support this initiative and under which terms.

The only lenders that the government has any direct influence over with additional legislation is the state-backed RBS Group.

We will act in accordance with any specific legislation and our customer’s instructions. In the absence of either of those, you remain bound by the terms of your mortgage agreement.

General

Q: If your branches are closed, will I be able to contact you by phone or online instead?

A: Yes. We will ensure that we keep communication channels open by alternative means if we need to or are required to close any of our branches. You can always contact us via email/phone or via the ‘Contact Us’ option on our websites, as usual.

Q: Are you able to maintain all your security and data protection standards during this period?

A: Data security and protection remains a key priority for our business and, as such, measures have been put in place to ensure high standards can continue to be met. Any concerns should be sent to our dedicated ‘Privacy Team’ via admin@sakslondon.co.uk