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How agents can help vulnerable tenants during self-isolation

Some tenants who are self-isolating because they are higher risk may face other challenges apart from the direct risk and impact of the virus, Agents are a key part of local communities and can provide housing and support to those in need. Propertymark has joined forces with the Alzheimer’s Society

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Electrical safety guidance – England

The UK Government has on the 1st June 2020, released guidance on the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020. There are three sets of guidance with separate versions released for landlords, tenants, and local authorities in England. Private landlords must ensure: Electrical safety standards are

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Latest Issue

BDC 319 : Aug 2024

arlapropertymark

How agents can help vulnerable tenants during self-isolation

Some tenants who are self-isolating because they are higher risk may face other challenges apart from the direct risk and impact of the virus, Agents are a key part of local communities and can provide housing and support to those in need. Propertymark has joined forces with the Alzheimer’s Society to highlight issues those with dementia or vulnerable are facing aside from the unprecedented times the pandemic brings. Even before Coronavirus, those living alone or with cognitive difficulties such as dementia may not know how or be able to get the essentials they need, such as food and medication. Some people, unable to visit local stores and with not enough delivery slots to accommodate the need, are finding they are not able to get food at all. This puts people at high risk of malnutrition, starvation, or other health issues caused by missing medication. Many people live alone with no relatives nearby to support and many will not have internet access, meaning they can’t order a food delivery or search for other local support. These issues also greatly increase the risk of isolation and loneliness. Before Coronavirus, over a third of people with dementia said they felt lonely. Chronic loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Many people in self-isolation will not be having any social contact at all. The long-term effects of this could be devastating. How agents, even if self-isolating, can offer extra support for vulnerable tenants who are also self-isolating Considering the additional risks that vulnerable tenants may be facing, agents and landlords may wish to offer extra support to your tenants to help them keep safe and well during this time. While it is essential you make sure you are keeping safe yourself, you may be able to provide a lifeline to tenants who are isolated and scared. For many people, you might be their only local contact. Help could include: Assistance with receiving food and medicine Many people are volunteering to assist with deliveries of these items. If you wish to do this, you should reach out to your tenants to offer your assistance and liaise with them as to the best method of delivering items without physical contact. Agents and landlords can provide hands-off support by signposting them to other support. For example, they can make sure their tenants know about their local COVID Mutual-Aid community group or provide their tenants with the phone numbers for local shops and convenience stores so they can call up to place a delivery. Where tenants don’t feel confident placing their own deliveries, agents and landlords could offer to place the delivery on their behalf. Remember that communication can be challenging for people with other conditions, such as dementia. Think about whether the best way to get in contact is by phone, email, or letter, and remember that not everyone is online. Provide support by keeping in touch through regular phone calls, letters or emails just to touch base and have a chat Don’t underestimate the importance of social contact during this time. For some tenants, this could be the only social interaction they have and just to touch base and have a chat could mean an awful lot to someone as social interaction is essential to maintain wellbeing. Be proactive about getting in touch with your tenants as they may not approach you even if they need the help. But remember, it is essential that you are practicing social distancing through any of these activities. Signposting Agents and landlords can also signpost their tenants to other support, such as Alzheimer’s Society and Age UK, so they know who to call. Alzheimer’s Society is there to support anyone affected by dementia through this difficult time. If agents, landlords, or their tenants need advice, contact the Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456 (open every day). For welsh speakers please call on 03300 947 400. Share this and other helplines with your tenants. #VolunteersWeek Propertymark Protected agencies across the UK have been pulling out all the stops and helping those in need during this difficult time. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook as we share the amazing things others are doing or share your generous work with us by tagging us in your posts.

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Electrical safety guidance – England

The UK Government has on the 1st June 2020, released guidance on the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020. There are three sets of guidance with separate versions released for landlords, tenants, and local authorities in England. Private landlords must ensure: Electrical safety standards are met when the property is occupied during a tenancy. Every fixed electrical installation at the property is inspected and tested at least every five years by a qualified person. The first inspection and testing are carried out before new tenancies commence on or after 1 July 2020 and by 1 April 2021 for existing tenancies. Key questions answered WHAT DOES ELECTRICAL SAFETY STANDARDS MEAN? Under the Regulations, electrical safety standards mean that the inspection and test of the installation is carried out in accordance with the eighteenth edition of the wiring regulations BS 7671:2018 (the national standard to which all domestic wiring must conform). WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE AN EXISTING REPORT? If the landlord has obtained a satisfactory Electrical Installation Safety Report which is less than five years old, they should review the report to see what was recommended on it and consider how the property has been let since it was carried out. If big differences to the property have occurred, then it would be wise to get another check done. If no changes have been made, then the report will remain valid until the next inspection date specified. WHAT TENANCY TYPES ARE COVERED BY THE REGULATIONS? The Regulations apply to all tenancies apart from those listed as excluded tenancies which are social housing, shared accommodation with a landlord or landlord’s family, long leases, student halls of residence, hostels and refuges, care homes, hospitals, and hospices as well as other accommodation relating to healthcare provision. DO THE REGULATIONS APPLY TO HOUSES OF MULTIPLE OCCUPATION (HMO)? Yes, if an HMO is a tenant’s only or main residence and they pay rent, then these regulations apply to the property. Furthermore, these Regulations repeal the previous legislation which set requirements on HMO landlords. WHAT ABOUT NEW BUILD PROPERTY? The Regulations stipulate that all rented properties – even new builds – should have their electrical installations tested every five years. The Electrical Installation Certificate will certify that electrics are safe when they are put into service, but it will not identify any damage, deterioration, or defects that take place subsequently. After five years of use as a rented property, the UK Government believes it is sensible to ask landlords (who have not been living in the property) to ensure that the electrical installation is still safe. WHO CAN CARRY OUT THE CHECKS? Any Electrical Inspector employed to undertake the electrical inspection and testing within the property must have: Adequate insurance. This should include at least £2 million public liability insurance and £250,000 professional indemnity insurance. A qualification covering the current version of the wiring regulations (BS 7671). A qualification covering the periodic inspection, testing, and certification of electrical installations. At least two years’ experience in carrying out periodic inspection and testing See www.electricalcompetentperson.co.uk and www.napit.org.uk/member-search.aspx How do the rules interact with the guidance because of COVID-19? The UK Government recognise that the restrictions imposed by current measures to minimise the infection risks from COVID-19 may make carrying out electrical safety checks more difficult, for example where households are isolating or where an individual has been advised to shield. Under such circumstances, provided the landlord can demonstrate they have taken reasonable steps to comply, they would not be in breach of their legal duties.

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