Organisation urges renters to refuse requests for viewings from a landlord or agent even if access terms are part of their tenancy contract.
Tenants shouldn’t feel pressurised to allow viewings during the crisis, Citizen’s Advice has warned, and encouraged tenants to refuse them if they feel at risk.
Despite new Government guidelines on starting up the housing market again using social distancing, the charity thinks private rental tenants might feel uncomfortable about how agents can safely allow viewings, or get access to take photos and videos.
Citizens Advice housing expert Amy Hughes says it’s paramount that tenants are safe – and feel safe.
“Tenants should not be pressured to allow viewings,” she says. “The Government guidelines stress that social distancing must be adhered to and that there should be no viewings at all in properties where tenants are shielding, or self-isolating because they have symptoms of coronavirus.”
It’s advising renters that if they don’t want their landlord or letting agent to organise viewings, they can refuse, and that neither can enter without permission.
Citizens’ Advice adds that allowing access might be part of the contract, and breaching it could allow a landlord to serve an injunction or make a claim for possession, but explains: “To succeed, the landlord needs to prove they are being reasonable, and a court may not consider it reasonable if the tenant is taking steps to protect themselves against a potential health risk.”
Hughes says that properties should only be put on the rental market if the tenant has said they want to move.
She adds: “However, existing measures to protect people who are having difficulty paying their rent because of the pandemic are only temporary. Possession proceedings to allow landlords to evict tenants are only paused until 25th June.”