The latest Covid-19 restrictions in Scotland and what they mean for landlords
Mon 19 Oct 2020
As restrictions tighten once again across the world, and across the UK, to combat the incoming second wave of coronavirus, people everywhere are having to get used once again to local lockdowns and measures designed to prevent the spread of the disease.
Here, we take a closer look at the new restrictions in Scotland – and in particular the Central Belt – and what they mean for the private rental sector and the landlords operating in it.
What are the new rules?
In West Lothian, the area we at Letting Solutions operate in, a number of new restrictions are in place covering the local area. These restrictions came into play for two weeks from Thursday 8 October.
All licensed premises - with the exception of hotels for residents – have been required to close indoors and outdoors, although food takeaways are permitted. Licensed cafes have been able to remain open as long as they do not serve alcohol.
Snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling alleys, casinos and bingo halls have been closed for two weeks from 10 October. There is currently no need for people to cancel visits to the area, but the local council has advised that people should minimise travel as much as possible and reduce interactions.
The restrictions, which apply across the Central Belt, including locations such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Falkirk, Stirling and Midlothian, are in place to stem the flow of rising cases, with most new cases emanating from the Central Belt of late.
The government is continuing to urge all employers to support staff to work from home wherever possible, but says workers can continue to go into other households to carry out work such as repairs, installations and deliveries. However, such visits should be subject to a risk assessment as well as ensuring that social distancing and the correct wearing of masks is adhered to.
Car-sharing – which could take place between agents, landlords and tenants from different households when attending a viewing – is also off the cards, unless there is absolutely no alternative. If car-sharing is required with people from different households, it’s advised that people share the transport with the same people each time, keep to small groups of people at any one time, and maintain good ventilation by keeping the car windows open if possible.
Everyone should also wear face-coverings and clean their hands before and after their journey. If the vehicle is your responsibility, you should clean the door handles and other areas that people touch.
How can tenant moves be handled safely?
The guidance on moving home is still much the same as when it was released in the aftermath of the first lockdown, as Scotland eased out of restrictions at a slower pace than England.
Viewings should not be conducted in properties where tenants are showing symptoms or self-isolating, or in quarantine following arrival into the country. If there is no alternative, agents can accompany landlords and prospective tenants on physical viewings but should seek to minimise contact at all times. The government guidelines on social distancing and the use of face coverings should also be adhered to throughout.
Landlords (or your letting agent on your behalf) should ask whether any member of a tenant’s household is showing symptoms, or has been asked to self-isolate, before going ahead with any visits to properties. This applies also to households of multiple occupation (HMOs) with common areas.
Where an unaccompanied viewing is being carried out, agents and landlords should make sure that tenants and prospective tenants clearly understand how the viewing should be conducted safely. Again, full compliance with health guidance including social distancing is a must.
It’s advised that all parties viewing a property should wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser immediately after entering the properties. Similarly, internal doors and windows should be opened for good ventilation and surfaces should be wiped down before anyone enters.
Separate towels or paper towels should be used, with the landlord or your agent responsible for providing these, unless the tenant objects - in which case they must take responsibility.
When conducting viewings and visiting offices in person, an appointment system should be used, while virtual viewings should be carried out where possible. In-person viewings should only be used where there is no other alternative.
What’s more, any visits to a property must be made in accordance with the Scottish Government guidelines on physical distancing.
The guidance for private landlords and letting agents during the pandemic, last updated on October 13 2020, can be seen here. Landlords and agents are advised to continue to follow the Phase 3 guidance and exert extra vigilance.
The guidance on moving home during the Covid-19 crisis, with nods to how people in areas with local restrictions are affected, can be seen here.
It’s a fast-moving situation at present, and tighter restrictions still can’t be ruled out. Wales has just moved into an effective two-week lockdown to try and curb the spread of cased, while Northern Ireland and parts of England are tightening restrictions as well.
While the likelihood of a national lockdown, or circuit-breaker, remains low, it can’t be ruled out completely.
Here at Letting Solutions, we remain open for business, albeit strictly in line with all the required rules around the pandemic. Members of our tam are working remotely covering all aspects of the business, with our hours unchanged (Monday to Friday from 9.15am to 5pm, except on Wednesdays, when we do training and open from 11am to 5pm).
For more information, please see our full page details here. Please don’t hesitate to contact us, even if you are not a current client.
You can ring us on 01506 49600 or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org, to find out more about how you can let successfully even as restrictions tighten.