Updated 8 June 2020

Housing Standards

Landlords remain responsible for ensuring that housing standards are maintained in a safe condition throughout this period and are advised to stay in regular contact with your tenant(s) on any issues that may arise, without visiting the property where possible.

We understand that finding an appropriate contractor to undertake essential works is more difficult at the moment, so a list of contractors currently operating in the local area has been compiled - please let us know if you would like a copy of the list.

The Council still has a duty to ensure safe housing conditions are maintained. However, in line with government guidance, we will not be taking action in relation to matters not deemed to be urgent during this period.

We will continue to respond to unsafe housing conditions and serious hazards where tenants are deemed to be at risk. All cases will be assessed individually, which may result in enforcement action being taken if deemed necessary.

Examples of problems that you should still attend to include:

  • problems with the fabric of the building such as a leaking roof
  • a broken boiler, leaving a tenant without heating or hot water
  • plumbing issues, meaning a tenant does not have washing or toilet facilities
  • broken ‘white goods’ provided by you (such as fridge or washing machine) leaving the tenant unable to wash clothes or store food safely
  • security-critical problems such as a broken window or external door
  • repair or installation of equipment that a person with a disability relies on

Visiting your property?

If you feel it is necessary to visit an occupied property, you will need to adhere to government advice on social distancing and hand cleansing etc. This advice is updated regularly, so please check it regularly and before each visit you make.

We strongly advise that you find out if any occupants are shielding or self-isolating when arranging a visit. If they are you should agree suitable arrangements with your tenant(s) before entering the property.

Council officers visiting properties must comply with strict Health and Safety Risk Assessments and, where necessary, carry appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). In all cases the officer will contact your tenant to discuss any specific arrangements before they enter the building.

Tradespeople can visit people’s homes to carry out any work or maintenance provided it is carried out in accordance with guidance for professionals working in people’s homes.

Further Gov.uk information and advice:

COVID-19 and renting: guidance for landlords and tenants

Guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable

Working safely during Coronavirus

Electrical and Gas Safety and other safety critical maintenance work/ checks such as fire alarms and emergency lighting

While the coronavirus situation is ongoing, landlords who can show they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with relevant regulations, will not be in breach of their duty.

You can show that reasonable steps have been taken to try to arrange the work by keeping copies of all communications (including replies) with tenants and contractors such as electricians/gas engineers etc.

Landlords could also provide other evidence such as service records and previous gas safety check documentation to prove that the installation, appliance or flue is in a good condition while they attempt to arrange works.

If your tenant is self-isolating or shielding then the annual gas safety check can be delayed until after the period of isolation has ended, and if your tenant is shielding or self-isolating then an inspection or repair should only be carried out if there is a direct gas safety risk that affects the safety of your tenant.

Further Gov.uk information and advice:

COVID-19 and renting: guidance for landlords and tenants

Gas Safe: COVID-19 advice for landlords

​Possession Proceedings

The Coronavirus Act 2020 prevents landlords from starting possession proceedings unless they have given their tenants three-months’ notice. In addition, it has been confirmed that housing possession cases in the courts would now be suspended until 23rd August 2020.

Landlords are advised not to commence new notices seeking possession during this challenging time without a very good reason to do so.

COVID-19 and renting: guidance for landlords and tenants

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

There are additional risks associated with accommodation with shared facilities such as common access ways, kitchens and bathrooms.

Multiple users often have different standards of cleanliness and tenants may not know the health status of their fellow residents. Landlords should therefore provide:

  • instructions about the importance of cleaning shared facilities after use and sufficient and appropriate cleaning products for the tenants to use in shared areas

Landlords should also make sure that arrangements are in place for tenants who are self isolating or shielding to make you and their fellow residents aware so informed decisions can be made and appropriate action taken in relation to the use of shared areas.

COVID-19 and renting: guidance for landlords and tenants

Government Guidance

The Ministry of Communities, Housing and Local Government has also produced guidance for landlords and tenants on Covid-19 and renting along with further information on Government support for landlords and renters during the current outbreak.

Information is also available from the Department of Work and Pensions on Universal Credit and the changes government has brought in to support people who are already claiming benefits, need to claim benefits, or are at risk of losing their job as a result of coronavirus.

Further information and useful help:

Other local support for you and your tenants

Wirral Info Bank is an online resource to help people find a wide range of advice and support in their local area, including:

  • Food providers and deliveries
  • Help getting medication
  • Social, financial and employment issues
  • Relationship advice and domestic abuse
  • Staying physically and mentally well

Ask Us Wirral has been set up by Citizens Advice Wirral, Age UK, Wirral Change, Mencap and Live Well to provide practical advice on:

  • Benefits
  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Relationships …and many more things!
  • Debt

You can call Ask Wirral Us helpline on 0300 33 00 111.

Helping Your Tenants

For tenants requesting adaptations to their home, Wirral council
may provide a grant for aids and adaptations for people with disabilities, to help them remain safe and independent in their home. If you know
of any of your tenants who have disabilities or visibly struggle with
their mobility you could advise them of this and request a telephone
consultation on their behalf, if they don’t have internet access.

Help your older tenants maximise their income, by checking if they are getting the pension credits they are entitled to. 1 in 3 pensioners aren’t claiming and are missing out on a range of other benefits that receiving this gives access to, such as council tax support. It could help people who are struggling, to pay their rent on time too.

Wirral Landlord Helpline

If you have any questions or concerns about how coronavirus is
affecting your role as a landlord, or wish to ask on behalf of a tenant, the Council has set up a new dedicated helpline, which is available from 9.00am-5.00pm, Monday - Friday.

You can call Wirral Landlord Helpline on:
07880 063826, 07789 947500 or 07867 538154

You can also contact us by email to: landlordaccreditation@wirral.gov.uk
We hope you found this information useful. Please don’t hesitate to contact us using the details above if you have any questions or require further assistance.