Advice for Landlords & Tenants During the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic

Landlords can still access and market their properties and ensure that works are carried out to meet legal obligations and ensure tenant welfare whilst observing social distancing measures.

You can move home during stage 4 of the government's covid-19 road map. Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work. If you are looking to move, you can go to property viewings. 

Eviction notices served after 1st June 2021 must provide at least 4 months notice to a tenant for most grounds and Section 21 notices. Shorter notice periods are an option under Section 8 in cases involving anti-social behaviour, rioting and false statement. We strongly recommend that landlords seek to resolve disputes with their tenants before using eviction proceedings especially when there aren't specific grounds. .

The government will keep these measures under review with decisions guided by the latest public health advice. 


What restrictions are in place to protect health?

The government has published frequently asked questions outlining what you can and can't do during the coronavirus pandemic. You can also read more on our coronavirus advice pages.

A landlord is entitled to visit their property in response to a health and safety concern as would be visits to the property by their tradesperson to complete repairs (provided both parties are well and non-symptomatic).  Council staff who deal with the enforcement of standards in the private rented sector will still be responding to complaints concerning health and safety risks in the private rented sector and there are no measures to prevent the Council from taking enforcement action in circumstances where there is serious risk to health and safety. We are adapting our working practices to minimise the spread and may rely on photos from tenants in lower-risk cases. We will contact landlords on the basis of these reports but will be understanding in terms of the timescales we are allowing for resolution. We anticipate that by far the majority of cases can be dealt with informally based on common sense agreements.

What should I be doing as a landlord in regard to social distancing?

The principal aim of the government's public health measures to combat the virus are to limit the number of contacts between members of the community. Throughout the pandemic you should ensure:

Working safely and Managing My Property

The current recommendations will make it more difficult to manage your property. The government has issued two very helpful pieces of guidance with respect to renting during COVID-19 & working in other people's homes during COVID-19, we recommend you familiarise yourself with them.  There are some practical steps you can take to allow you to manage your business during the crisis:

  • Follow the decontamination advice if a tenant moves out.
  • Send your tenants a copy of this poster concerning home hygiene which covers how to limit spread within the home. 
  • Avoid pre-planned property inspections unless there is a justifiable health and safety reason to go ahead.
  • If you are aware of a repair which needs doing but the tenant is unable to permit access due to self-isolation, ask them to document this in a text or an email. Work should not be carried out in properties where the tenant is self isolating unless there is a serious and direct threat to tenant safety. 
  • Viewings are now permitted although you should limit the number of people present by suggesting that only one prospective tenant is present during a viewing. Be mindful that the current occupier may not wish to have people enter their home and that is still their right (nobody can enter if the hosuehold is in isolation). Videos can be useful as opposed to physical viewings for advertising purposes. Please read and implement the government's guidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to other people's homes.

How do I meet my legal obligations with respect to Gas Safety?

Specific legal advise with respect to Gas Safety can be obtained from the HSE via the Gas Safe website.

Please make use of the two month window you have to arrange the safety check as this can provide an important contingency for you in the event of self isolation or shortages of safety engineers. For example if your gas safety certificate runs out on July 1st 2020, you can have a new check carried out any time after May 1st 2020 and be given a certificate which is valid until 1st July 2021. Our advice is to plan as early as possible. 

What should I do if a tenant passes away in one of my properties?

If the tenant lived alone and assuming you were not the person who discovered that they had passed away (in which case you obviously contact the emergency services) you should get in touch with their next of kin or their emergency contact, or share their contact information with the emergency services who will do this. 

If the deceased shared a property you will obviously also need to liaise with the other tenants. If the tenant had shown symptoms of the virus before their death and therefore may have died from it as opposed to other causes, the other tenants will be very concerned about their own health. You should recommend that they self-isolate for the recommended period (14 days) and undertake a deep clean of the property to reassure them. 

You will need to liaise with the next of kin for them to have access to collect the deceased belongings. Remember, they have lost a loved one, so be as sensitive as possible. The other tenants should remain in their rooms whilst this is happening. 

What Is the Legal Position Regarding the Tenancy

A tenant’s death does not end the tenancy automatically. Instead, the right to end the tenancy will pass on to a number of different people depending on the circumstances and the tenancy type. 

If the deceased was on a joint tenancy, the law says the remaining tenants will still hold the tenancy and be expected to pay the rent for the property. As much as possible you should be flexible and, if necessary, arrange a payment plan involving a deferment or reduction of the rent to allow for one tenant not contributing. 

Where the deceased was the sole tenant but their spouse or civil partner was also using the property as their main home prior to the death, the law says that they will succeed to the tenancy on the same terms as before. It may be wise to arrange to formalise the relationship with a new tenancy agreement to help support the remaining tenants with benefits claims they may need to make.

If the tenant lived alone on a sole tenancy, where there is a will you should try to establish who the executor of the will is as they will be able to legally terminate the tenancy. 

The next of kin or the emergency contact should give you some idea who this will be. 

Where the tenant has died intestate (without a will) or without an executor the tenancy will pass to the Public Trustee. You should follow their guidance on ending the tenancy.

Living in and managing houses in mutiple (HMOs) occupation during the Coronavirus pandemic

We recognise that HMOs present a difficult problem in terms of reducing transmission of the virus and that tenant turnover can be high. However there are practical steps you can take to lower the risks as far as possible during the course of the pandemic. The sections below provide key information to assist HMO managers and landlords. 

Tenancy Management

Landlords and agents are free to visit properties for viewings, moving in procedures & cleaning the property after check-out. Lettings agencies are permitted to be open and tenants may leave the house to visit their offices. Social distancing should be maintained where practicable. Please read and implement the government's guidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to other people's homes.

During tenancy check in and check out procedures, tenants should be contacted in advance and asked to stay away from common parts whilst you undertake the required checks.  

It would be good practice to reiterate the key public health measures implemented by the government.

Advise your tenants that this is a stressful period for everyone and they should make efforts to be considerate of all other tenants, particularly those who may be more susceptible to the infection. Provision of soap and hand sanitizer is a sensible step to take.  

A letter from the Housing Team manager is included in the downloads and resources section of this page (translated tenant versions are available in Arabic, Kurdish, Romanian, Polish, Albanian & Latvian). This provides advice to both HMO landlords and tenants about keeping safe in shared property. Please feel free to download and distribute.

Use of shared space with others who are not part of your family

Minimise the time you spend in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas as much as possible and keep shared spaces well ventilated.

Aim to keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from people you live with.  If you can, use a separate bathroom from others.  Make sure you use separate towels from other people, both for drying yourself after bathing and for hand hygiene purposes.  Keep your towel in your room.

If you do share a toilet and bathroom, it is important to clean them properly after every time you use them (e.g. wiping surfaces you have come into contact with using soapy water).

If you share a kitchen with others, avoid using it whilst others are in it. Take your meals back to your room to eat if possible.  If you have one, use a dishwasher to clean and dry your used crockery and cutlery.  If this is not possible, wash them using your usual washing up liquid and warm water and dry them thoroughly, remembering to use a separate tea towel to others and put them straight away.  Do not leave things on the side to dry.

We understand that it will be hard for some people to separate themselves from others at home.  You should do your very best to follow this guidance and everyone in your household should:

  • regularly wash their hands with soap and water
  • avoid touching their face
  • clean frequently touched surfaces.

If you are an employee and unable to work due to coronavirus, please refer to the guidance from the Department for Work and Pensions to find out about the support that is available to you (available in several languages).

What about household isolation in the event of a tenant becoming symptomatic?

In the event that a tenant in your HMO shows symptoms of COVID-19, the government has advised that the whole household should isolate for 10 days . Please visit for the full advice on household isolation. Anyone showing symptoms of coronavirus is eligible for a test.  Your tenants may find it useful if you guide them towards the financial support package being offered by government. 

Make clear to your tenants that they should inform you as soon as a possible if they become symptomatic. Should you receive notification that one of your tenants is displaying symptoms of the virus, you should contact all tenants at the property and reinforce the household isolation requirements. Advice on how to get a test can be found via the NHS track and trace website 

Property management

Under the HMO Management Regulations property managers have a responsibility to maintain the common parts and this responsibility has not been altered. Cleaners can now be used to manage your responsibility over the common parts. You should not send a cleaner if the household is isolating or houses someone who is clinically vulnerable and has been asked to shield. 

The general advice contained within the section above concerning property management applies equally to HMOs. 

I rent out a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and one of the tenants has the virus. Am I obliged to remove them or find my tenants another place to stay?

No. Nobody can be removed from their home because of COVID-19.
Landlords are not obliged to provide alternative accommodation for tenants if others in the property contract the virus. You could help by, for example, closing non-essential communal space where it would not be possible to maintain social distancing (e.g. small shared spaces for use by more than one household).
The Government has issued specific guidance on what to do if someone in your household has contracted the virus, including self-isolating the whole household for 14 days. Sections 3.8 and 3.9 of this guidance set out information for tenants living in shared accommodation. You may also wish to direct your tenants to Government guidance on cleanliness and hygiene for non-medical locations.

Can I admit or replace new tenants into my property where existing tenants will be continuing to reside?

The movement restrictions do not prevent people moving home. The government has issued guidance on how to minimise the risks of spreading the coronavirus when doing so. 

There may be additional risks involved in moving into a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) at this time which is why it is important that all involved take reasonable precautions. During viewings, tenants that share a HMO are advised to stay out of indoor common areas, such as kitchens, bathrooms or sittings areas. If it is not a tenant’s own private room that is being viewed they can also remain inside this room with the doors closed. HMO landlords always retain responsibility for the cleaning of common areas and are reminded to take particular care with respect to the conduct of visitors during viewings and any cleaning that may be required before, during or after. Tenant safety should be landlords’ and letting agents’ first priority in this or any other move.

Managing rent arrears and possession proceedings

What are the new rules regarding possession proceedings and evictions?

The government has produced Technical guidance for landlords on the provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020. Possession hearings restarted on 21st September 2020 and the ban on bailiff enforcement of evictions expired on 31st May 2021. Therefore orders can now be enforced where the landlord has a valid warrant of possession. Additionally, eviction notices served after after the 1st June 2020 must give at least 4 months notice in the majority of cases. Further details can be found in the Governments Guidance for Landlords and Tenants.

New civil procedure rules during the Covid-19 Crisis
  • Account will need to be made of any changes to the tenant's circumstances as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (particularly in relation to increased vulnerability or changes to social security status) . This will apply to existing and new claims as well as accelerated possession claims. Changes will be in force until March 2021.
  • Re-activation notices are not required where you already have a possession order. Landlords in this situation can move to executing the warrant by using a bailiff service
  • Courts will have greater flexibility in setting the hearing date which was previously set at the same time as a claim form being issued. They will now be able to set the date following the production of the claim form. There will no longer be a requirement for the Court to set a date within 8 weeks of the claim form being issued.
  • Evidence of rent arrears will now be needed in advance of the hearing. Tenants can request the Courts extend the possession date if they have suffered extreme hardship as a result of the pandemic; you will be alerted to this in the tenant's defence statement.
  • High court bailiffs will need to provide 14 days notice to the tenant of the eviction date in the same way that county court bailiffs issue notice. The notice shall include details of how the tenant can apply to suspend the eviction and where to go for help.
  • The Government is advising landlords not to pursue eviction in non-priority cases. It considers priority cases to be those involving anti-social behaviour, extreme rent arrears, domestic abuse, cases involving squatters, fraud or unlawful subletting.
  • Landlords are being actively encouraged to pursue mediation where possible to avoid eviction proceedings

Where tenants do experience financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic, we encourage landlords and tenants to work together and exhaust all possible options – such as flexible payment plans which take into account a tenant’s individual circumstances – to ensure cases only end up in court as an absolute last resort. As of February 2021 the Government has set up a rent mediation service that is free to landlords and tenants and separate from the Courts and Tribunal Service. An independent trained mediator will assist both parties in reaching a solution without the need to resort to Court action. Click here to access details of Rental Mediation Service. 

Notice periods for intention to commence possession proceedings are currently 4 months. The government has produced amended notice seeking possession forms which can be accessed here.

Issues with paying rent, council tax, energy bills etc. What can I do?

Please visit the coronavirus financial advice page which brings together the financial advice available for people living in Doncaster. It will be updated as more information becomes available.

Tenants withholding rent - does the pandemic affect liabilities?

No - there is no universal rent holiday during this emergency period. Tenants should continue to pay rent and abide by all other terms of their tenancy agreement to the best of their ability. The government has a strong package of financial support available to tenants, and where they can pay the rent as normal, they should do. Tenants who are unable to do so should speak to their landlord at the earliest opportunity. As mentioned above notice periods for possession have changed and legal proceedings have been stayed by the Coronavirus Act and associated regulations. Our advice is to negotiate as early as possible in situations where a tenant is having difficulty paying rent and be prepared to accept payment plans or a period of rent at a lower value. Make use of the mortgage holiday periods if you are able.

For information regarding the new possession rules during the crisis please visit the page: Managing a tenancy, tenancy deposits and eviction

The pandemic has affected my ability to pay rent / I am not receiving rent - what should I do?

Buy to let lenders have agreed to offer a 3 month mortgage holiday to landlords whose tenants have been financially affected by the pandemic. You must be up to date with your payments to apply for the holiday and interest will accrue during this period which could affect the value of subsequent payments. 

Employers have been encouraged by the government to retain employees and have offered to pay 80% of wages up to £2500 under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Self employed tenants can claim a one-off lump sum of up to 80% of their profits (three-year average) or £2500 per month (whichever is the lesser). Click here for the Government's advice concerning financial assistance

St Leger Homes tenants should speak to their local rents officer in their area office if struggling with rent payments – and then they can refer on to our Tenancy Sustainability Team as necessary for further support. Find out more on the St Leger Homes website.

Local Authorities will have access to a £500m grant to cover cases where ratepayers are unable to pay their Council Tax.

Help is available for tenant's who are struggling with pre-payment meters due to self-isolation.

For information regarding the new possession rules during the pandemic please visit the page: Managing a tenancy, tenancy deposits and eviction

Students and rent

It would be sensible to be flexible in response to requests from students if their learning is now entirely based on virtual methods if you are able to be. However, contracts are still binding and you are under no legal obligation to act unless the tenant has been directly financially impacted by the Coronavirus. If they have been directly affected, you should agree to defer payment. The Student Loans Company has advised that they will continue to pay loans during the course of the pandemic.

Social distancing measures are an essential tool in the fight against the virus. You can report people and businesses who are breaching the measures by clicking the box below:

 Should you have any queries about the content of this page, please email us at

Last updated: 16 September 2021 12:27:14