Coronavirus Guidance

Coronavirus Guidance
Supporting Tenants & Landlords

Update: 20th January 2021

Following the Scottish Government’s announcement on the 5th January to impose further restrictions to level 4 lockdown areas, and further to their updates on the 19th January, the situation on how we can operate remains broadly the same across the lettings industry, and we are still able to operate – but with some changes to the way we should work.

Despite the level 4 restrictions and the stay-at-home message from the Scottish Government, letting agents are permitted to carry out most activities as normal such as viewing, check out and check in, and dealing with maintenance. Prospective tenants are able to travel across any area of the UK or tier area to view properties and tenants are allowed to move in and out of homes if they deem it to be essential.

The guidance is advising trades people to carry out essential maintenance only in tenanted property and this includes carrying out safety certificate inspections and essential repairs. Our contractors have been directed to adopt social distancing measures, wear PPE and to carry out a risk assessment before entering a tenanted property to ensure it is safe for all concerned.

For the time being and until restrictions are eased, we feel it is appropriate to suspend any routine inspections on tenanted properties unless absolutely essential.

You can also check out our FAQ’s here.

Tenant FAQs
Landlord FAQs

Tenant Coronavirus FAQs

What does the Scottish level 4 lockdown mean for the property market and where can I find guidance?

The Scottish Government has advised that as of the 5th January 2021, the Scottish mainland will remain in a level 4 lockdown. However the property market can remain open and operating. Moving home for any reason is permitted and agents or the general public can visit properties for the purposes of selling or renting. This includes travel between UK nations, council districts and between different level and tier areas.

All activities related to the marketing, letting and viewing of property are permitted whilst adhering to social distance rules and Scottish Government guidance on how to conduct these activities safely.

You can read the full government guidance here.

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-moving-home/pages/advice-to-the-public/

Can I travel to view a property during the Scottish level 4 lockdown?

The Scottish Government has advised that as of 5th January 2021, the Scottish mainland will remain in a level 4 lockdown.

However the property market can remain open and operating. Moving home for any reason is permitted and agents or the general public can visit properties for the purposes of selling or renting.

Travel between UK nations, council districts and between different level and tier areas is permitted for the purposes of moving home. This includes viewings.

All activities related to the marketing, letting and viewing of property are permitted whilst adhering to social distance rules and Scottish Government guidance on how to conduct these activities safely.

You can read the full government guidance here.

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-travel-and-transport/

I am a student returning home to Edinburgh after the winter break. Where can I find guidance??

You should contact your University or college who will be able to give you some further guidance about how you will manage your studies and how you should return to Edinburgh safely but in the mean-time, here are some helpful sources of information relating to housing and travel.

The latest guidance published by the Scottish Government on the 20th January 2021 do outline the restrictions on travel.

The government guidance does allow for exceptions to the travel restrictions so that any students returning home to Edinburgh can be allowed to travel to their private rented home, should they want to travel home to their Edinburgh residence. Further detail is highlighted from the guidance here and full detail can be found at the links below. Travel is allowed for:

  • travel to school – when not being undertaken remotely – (including travel to or from boarding school), college, or university (for example to or from home at the start or end of term).  This includes travel for home education, training, school day trips or for other essential purposes connected with a course of study
  • travel to facilitate the formation of an end of term household, where either or both of the student or the other household which will make up the end of term household live out with the same area.

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-moving-home/pages/advice-to-the-public/#students

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-travel-and-transport/

The Scottish Government has also issued guidance on how universities and colleges should manage your safe return to Edinburgh after the winter break so you should contact the university directly for further advice.

What are your opening hours and how do I contact you?

Our office is currently closed to the public, tenants and landlords, and our staff are working from home.

Our office is not currently open to visitors in order to protect our staff and extra safety measures have been installed in our office to limit the spread of Covid-19, should any of our staff need to allow contractors to visit and collect keys.

You can contact us in the usual way, via the website contact page or our usual telephone number. Our office hours remain the same, Monday- Friday 9am-5pm

What safety measures are ‘burgh taking to protect me?

All ‘burgh staff who are interacting with any of our customers or general public have been supplied with a PPE pack to carry with them.

This includes face coverings, disposable gloves, cleaning equipment and alcohol hand sanitiser.

Our office is not currently open to visitors in order to protect our staff and extra safety measures have been installed in our office to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Our keys are being regularly sprayed with disinfectant and sanitised during use.

How can I secure a property safely with ‘burgh?

Where possible we are aiming to offer a virtual viewing on our website and advertising portals for any advertised property.

Scottish Government Guidance is advising us to encourage a first round of viewings by virtual viewing before we book a physical viewing with a prospective tenant. This is so we can lessen the number of interactions between us, you and any current tenants living in the property.

Our application process is all carried out online so it is quick and easy to complete from anywhere at anytime.

You can read the full government guidance here.

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-moving-home/pages/advice-to-the-public/

Can I secure a property from watching a virtual viewing?

No, Current Scottish Government guidance is asking us to encourage a first round of viewings by virtual viewing before we book a physical viewing. This is so we can lessen the number of interactions between us, you and any current tenants living in the property.

If you want to secure a property after watching the virtual viewing on our website, we will need to arrange a physical viewing for you to view the property in person.

We want to make sure that the property is the right choice for you, so we encourage you to view where possible.

Can I have a physical viewing with ‘burgh?

Absolutely. We encourage you to physically view the property before you move in. We have processes in place to make sure that we carry out the viewing safely and in line with government guidelines.

What will happen at the physical viewing?

Physical viewings are private and by appointment only. So we can allow you to enter the property, you must bring your own face covering. If you do not have a face covering with you, we cannot allow you to view.

We can view with no more than 2 people and you must be from the same household.

We will need you to confirm that you or anybody in your household is not symptomatic of Covid-19.

Our viewing agent will be wearing a face covering and the agent will be carrying some PPE and cleaning equipment. You will be asked not to touch any surfaces or handles.

We will be encouraging any tenants living in the property to leave for a short while, but this may not always be possible

We are a group of students looking to secure a property for the next academic year, can ‘burgh help?

All of our student properties are advertised and once they have been fully vacated and cleaned, we may be able to carry out a virtual viewing.

With the landlords permission, we may be able to help you secure a property online and without a viewing, with a view to a physical viewing being carried out later in the year.

I am a current tenant with ‘burgh, will you be viewing my property with prospective tenants before I vacate?

Government guidance issued to letting agents in December 2020 is allowing agents to physically view properties in tenanted properties but the guidance is encouraging us to limit the amount of viewings that we carry out – to try and limit contact between us, you and prospective tenants

They are encouraging us to offer prospective tenants a virtual viewing in the first instance and to then offer a physical viewing after.

This we hope will lessen the impact on you and lessen the number of people we need to physically view within your property.

We will contact you to arrange a suitable time for our agent to visit you so we can conduct a virtual tour recording of your property.

At this visit, the agent will be carrying a PPE pack, using a face covering and sanitiser at entry and exit, and we ask that you have the property clean, tidy and presentable for the images and tour to be taken.

Government guidance is suggesting that it is advisable for the current tenant to leave the property for a short while whilst we access. We can access with the keys that we hold.

You can read the full government guidance here.

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-moving-home/pages/advice-to-the-public/

I am a current tenant with ‘burgh, will you be carrying out a routine inspection visit to my property?

Yes, Government guidance is allowing agents to carry out routine inspection visits to tenanted properties.

Your safety is really important to us, so we will let you know well in advance of the visit.

At this visit, the agent will be carrying a PPE pack, using a face covering and sanitiser at entry and exit, and we ask that you have the property clean, tidy and presentable for the agent to visit.

Government guidance is suggesting that it is advisable for the tenant to leave the property for a short while whilst we access. We can access with the keys that we hold.

You can read the full government guidance here:

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-moving-home/pages/advice-to-the-public/

I have a maintenance contractor due to visit, what should I do to prepare?

With more people working from home during the crisis, we will need your assistance in facilitating a contractor to visit your property.

We will instruct the contractor as usual, once you have reported it to us via our website support page.

The keys we hold for your property are held in our office and are not necessarily available for contractors to use so you may need to arrange access with the contractor directly.

Our contractors are not employed by ‘burgh but we have instructed them to carry out a risk assessment before visiting any tenanted properties, to ensure that they and you are not exposed to any unnecessary risk and also to use safety precautions such as wearing gloves and masks.

If you are anybody in your household is symptomatic of Covid 19 or if you are self-isolating, you must inform us and the contractor before they attend.

It may help for you to leave the property during the time of the contractors visit so that there is no unnecessary person to person contact.

If you are not comfortable with the contractor entering the property or you feel that they are not taking the necessary precautions to protect you or themselves, let us know immediately.

Further government guidance can be found here

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

I am a tenant with ‘burgh and I have a maintenance request

You should request all maintenance as usual via our website support page. Any emergencies should be reported by calling the office number or consulting the website support page out of hours.

Government guidance has confirmed that certain trade disciplines are able to visit tenanted homes, such as gas engineers, plumbers and roofers. All with a view to keeping your home functional, safe and sound.

Government guidance is suggesting that it is advisable for you to leave the property for a short while whilst the contractor can access to carry out their tasks.

‘burgh contractors are not employed by us so they have been given instructions to cary out their own risk assessment directly with our tenants and to wear PPE at any visits.

We are prioritising urgent or emergency repairs due to the demand imposed on key contractors, so non-essential maintenance will be picked up as soon as possible.

The impact of coronavirus has affected my employment and income, what support is available to me?

The UK and Scottish governments have implemented a number of support avenues available to tenants who have been impacted financially by the Coronavirus.

The UK government is offering to anybody who is experiencing a loss of income due to the pandemic, further income support and protection in order to sustain your personal income, so you should seek guidance from your employer.

The support is extended to the self-employed, employees on zero hours contracts or those in flexible working arrangements.

There are a number of government services that you should explore if you are directly affected. The main government coronavirus support page is a good place to start but here are some more specific sites detailed here for you too;

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Tenants who need support to pay their rent because their income has been impacted by Coronavirus, can apply to the tenant hardship loan scheme. This is a loan scheme that needs to be repaid and you must meet the eligibility criteria in order to secure the loan. You can find out more here:

https://tenanthardshiploan.est.org.uk/

Tenants affected can claim Universal Credit – this includes support for housing costs. The UK Government has introduced some temporary changes to make this easier for people who haven’t claimed before.

https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit

For tenants who are receiving Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, but still can’t afford housing costs, a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) may apply.

https://www.mygov.scot/discretionary-housing-payment/

Tenants may be able to get support through the Scottish Welfare Fund too.

https://www.mygov.scot/scottish-welfare-fund/crisis-grants/

I am struggling to pay my rent, can ‘burgh or my landlord help me?

We understand that these are worrying times. If you find yourself in this situation, you should speak to your property manager to discuss your situation. The government support in place will be a good starting point for you to see what kind of support is available to you before you speak to us.

The main government coronavirus support page is a good place to start but here are some more specific avenues of support detailed here for you;

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Tenants who need support to pay their rent because their income has been impacted by Coronavirus, can apply to the tenant hardship loan scheme. This is a loan scheme that needs to be repaid and you must meet the eligibility criteria in order to secure the loan. You can find out more here:

https://tenanthardshiploan.est.org.uk/

Tenants affected can claim Universal Credit – this includes support for housing costs. The UK Government has introduced some temporary changes to make this easier for people who haven’t claimed before.

https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit

For tenants who are receiving Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, but still can’t afford housing costs, a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) may apply.

https://www.mygov.scot/discretionary-housing-payment/

Tenants may be able to get support through the Scottish Welfare Fund too.

https://www.mygov.scot/scottish-welfare-fund/crisis-grants/

Landlord Coronavirus FAQs

Do you offer virtual viewings?

Yes, Current government guidance is asking us to encourage a first round of viewings by virtual viewing before we book a physical viewing with a prospective tenant. This is so we can lessen the number of interactions between us, any prospective tenants and any current tenants living in the property.

Virtual viewings are proving very effective during this period of market change in order to maximise exposure of our properties to the wider tenant market.

We do need the viewer to view in person too before we can accept an application

Here is an example of our virtual viewing at our YouTube channel.

Can you inspect my property during the Scottish level 4 lockdown?

We are following the current government guidance about whether it is appropriate to carry out a routine inspection on a tenanted property. During the level 4 lockdown in Scotland, we will consult with you about whether access is required. 

At a routine inspection, the property manager will be carrying a PPE pack, using a face covering and sanitiser at entry and exit.

Government guidance is suggesting that it is advisable for the tenant to leave the property for a short while whilst we access.

You can read the full government guidance here.

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-moving-home/pages/advice-to-the-public/

What does the Scottish level 4 lockdown mean for the property market and where can I find guidance?

The Scottish Government has advised that as of the 5th January 2021, the Scottish mainland will remain in a level 4 lockdown. However the property market can remain open and operating. Moving home for any reason is permitted and agents or the general public can visit properties for the purposes of selling or renting. This includes travel between UK nations, council districts and between different level and tier areas.

All activities related to the marketing, letting and viewing of property are permitted whilst adhering to social distance rules and Scottish Government guidance on how to conduct these activities safely.

You can read the full government guidance here.

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-moving-home/pages/advice-to-the-public/

What are your opening hours and how do I contact you?

Our office is currently closed to the public, tenants and landlords, and our staff are working from home.

Our office is not currently open to visitors in order to protect our staff and extra safety measures have been installed in our office to limit the spread of Covid-19, should any of our staff need to allow contractors to visit and collect keys.

You can contact us in the usual way, via the website contact page or our usual telephone number. Our office hours remain the same, Monday- Friday 9am-5pm

What safety measures are ‘burgh taking to protect me?

All ‘burgh staff who are interacting with any of our customers or general public have been supplied with a PPE pack to carry with them.

This includes face coverings, disposable gloves, cleaning equipment and alcohol hand sanitiser.

Our office is not currently open to visitors in order to protect our staff and extra safety measures have been installed in our office to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Our keys are being regularly sprayed with disinfectant and sanitised during use.