Coronavirus, also known specifically as Covid-19, is affecting nearly all parts of the economy and life in Scotland, the UK and globally.
In response to the outbreak, the UK adopted a state of ‘lockdown’ on the 23rd March for a provisional 3 week period. This is expected to be extended to anything up to 12 weeks, and potentially into the Summer months.
As an Edinburgh letting agent, we initially felt protected from the crisis. We have operated on a cloud based system for some time, which has allowed us to quickly and without additional strain, move to remote working for all staff.
It was clear from the outset that we should postpone any routine inspections and non-essential maintenance. Essential or urgent maintenance include lack of heating or hot water and anything posing a danger to the tenants or ongoing damage to the property. We would also include routine safety certificate renewals as essential works.
Our leadership team also adhered to remote working, when not visiting the office to complete the essential works outlined above. The Scottish Government has since changed their guidance however, and are now advising that we postpone all safety renewals.
Industry regulators across the UK have argued that essential works should continue to take place, so this is something we’ll continue to monitor to ensure we are compliant with regulation and government advice at all times.
Impact on Tenancies
In direct response to the covid-19 outbreak, we have seen approximately 15% of our managed properties either end their tenancies within the required 28 days' notice or query whether their rent can be postponed. This is becoming a growing concern for our tenants and we are supporting on a case by case basis.
We are advertising any available properties with pictures and new virtual tours, to enhance the digital viewing process. However, with increasing uncertainty regarding the immediate future of the outbreak, we are unable to create new tenancy contracts. We are able to support new tenancies relating to individuals at risk of becoming homeless or key workers relocating to Edinburgh. We will continue to update on this, should it change.
We have well established social distancing measures in place to allow us to carry out property check outs, to ensure properties are left in the most safe and secure manner. The same applies to any essential move-ins.
We are particularly proud of how capable we are of digitally managing our client’s business and tenant homes during a prolonged crisis, and we will continue to work to government guidance.
Our key focus is to do everything in our power to maintain our client's incomes as far as possible, balanced by providing effective and empathetic support to tenants.
These are unprecedented times and call for a great deal of compassion and patience. We are only a phone call away should you have any queries about your tenancy and/or investment. This is a period we’ll get through together.