Unable to conduct inspection due to COVID-19

Our tenants are in the last two months of their initial fixed-term contract. At this point we usually make an inspection of the property, before deciding how to proceed.

We are unwilling to undertake the inspection due to COVID-19. We are both over 70, and whilst we are fit and healthy, we are not taking any chances with our health.

Is it possible to let the tenancy become periodic, then do the inspection when we can, and then if we decide to give a fixed-term tenancy, to generate one at this point? I understand that we do not need to give a fixed-term tenancy - just keeping all options open. Thanks.

Hi, yes that sounds like a good solution to me. I am shortly to share a guide on inspections during social distancing measures and will share it here when it is published.


Thanks so much. Will look forward to the Guide!

The government guidance on this matter is in “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for Landlords and Tenants” at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/876500/Consolidated_Landlord_and_Tenant_Guidance_COVID_and_the_PRS_v4.2.pdf, specifically page 14 onwards and is summarised as “This means that no one should visit the property to conduct viewings, or anything else which is not urgent and health and safety-related” on page 20 of that link.

Regarding repair and safety inspections (gas and electric for example), 'Landlords’ obligations have not changed: “We recommend that access to a property is only proposed for serious and urgent issues” and to “follow the Government’s latest guidance necessary to help stop the spread of the virus which you can find here https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus”.

For different safety related scenarios, see https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/covid-19-advice-and-guidance/landlords/, and call the gas emergency service provider on 0800 111 999 if there is a gas leak.

Overall, the advice is that in the event you are unable to gain access to the property while maintaining Covid19 safety precautions, or if you are unable to engage a registered gas / elec engineer to carry out the work due to a shortage of available engineers, you will be expected to be able to demonstrate that you took reasonable steps to comply with the law. “This should include records of communication with the tenant and details of your engineers attempts to gain access. You should seek to arrange the safety check as soon as all parties are available. If you are unable to secure the services of your usual engineers, you must make reasonable attempts to obtain alternative services. Landlords will need to assess the risks for each situation on a case-by-case basis.”

If you are keen to see the state of the property, then the following suggestions have been made by others:
– Look to arrange a video call (Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime, etc.) with the tenant, ideally recording the call as they show you the state of the property, or simply ask them to video the state of the place and send it to you.
– Ask the tenant to take digitally dated photos of each area in the property, including the garden, and send them to you

A little late but here is the guide I promised: