Post lockdown programme

It appears that the current efforts of lockdown have yielded a positive result with incidences of corona virus reducing. Property folk will therefore be turning their attentions to a post lockdown environment and so this month I wanted to review some of the actions that should probably be on your “To do” list.

Legionella:

The risk of the legionella bacteria is enhanced when water is left standing. Many landlords and those running serviced accommodation will have units which could have remained empty since March 23rd. Consequently you must ensure that the water system is thoroughly flushed through prior to reoccupation of the premises. It would also be a good opportunity to descale all of the tap outlets and check any tanks in the loft too. For those landlords who have yet to have undertaken a Legionella Risk Assessment in compliance with Approved Code of Practice L8 then this would be a perfect time to get your house in order.

EPCs: 

The enforcement of the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) came into force on 1stApril. Given that local authorities were requested to take a “pragmatic approach” due to the Covid 19 situation, I am not aware of any enforcement action having yet taken place. That said, this enforcement is likely to start with some gusto once normality is resumed. I therefore urge you to check o the EPC register that you have a valid EPC with a rating of E or above failing which you must get the property reassessed and undertake the improvements required to score a minimum of 39 points.

Electricity:

It would be prudent to remember that you will need to have an electrical test undertaken at your residential properties prior to a new tenancy from July 2020. There may be a backlog of work for contractors following the lockdown and so if you are planning on letting a property then it would be an idea to get the electrical inspection booked in now.

Maintenance:

It is likely that you elected to adopt an “only if urgent” policy in respect of routine maintenance of your properties. Now that most construction contractors are working again, you should make a list of the maintenance jobs that are outstanding and start to get these booked in. It is doubtless a false economy to try and continue to avoid routine maintenance. It is invariably cheaper than adopting a reactive approach to building works.

Gas Safety:

You should ensure that all of your gas safety certificates are up to date. Some may have lapsed if your tenants were self isolating around the renewal date and it is an important legal requirement that you have valid certificates for each of your properties.

Acquisition:

Many of you are hopeful that a lack of confidence in the market could bring some purchase opportunities. You may well be correct and so it is important to ensure that you are suitably equipped to take advantage. I would suggest that you revisit discussions with your banks, funders and JV partners to establish whether the various lines of credit that you had arranged prior to the Covid 19 outbreak are still available and whether still on the same terms. Knowing the availability and cost of finance is key to being able to discern whether an opportunity is viable.  Furthermore it has been rumoured that Conveyancing firms may increase their fees in a post covid world and so it may be sensible to try and agree a fixed fee rate with your Conveyancers in the event that you are to continue to be a regular customer.

Sales:

Given it is likely that social distancing will be with us for some months ahead, give some thought about how you dispose of properties. If viewers are to be allowed in property unaccompanied, then you will want to ensure that there are no items which may “go missing” during this process.  You will also need to identify and address potential hazards such as the broken airing cupboard door or “dodgy” loft hatch given that you will not be escorting a buyer around the property. It may set you apart from some competitors if you were to invest in a facility whereby you could offer virtual viewings and then a subsequent, physical viewing for those seriously interested. 

In summation it feels positive that the world appears to be starting to get back to some normality. We must however have an ongoing respect for the virus and continue to take any necessary precautions as we go about running our property businesses.

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