The spread of novel coronavirus around the world has been taking over the media. While your views on the seriousness of the issue may vary it is an issue which is coming to the attention of an increasing number of landlords and agents. We look here at some of the key issues.
First, it remains unlawful to discriminate against tenants because of race or nationality. So refusing to let to people from China or Italy or any other country connected to coronavirus on the basis that they may carry the virus is unlawful.
It is likely that a substantial percentage of the UK population will eventually catch the illness and this will leave agents and landlords concerned about what to do if their tenants catch it. Firstly, there is no need to panic. The government advice is that taking normal precautions will protect you. There is no grounds for evicting a tenant on the basis that they have the virus. Equally, there is no particular reason to take special cleaning measures if you have had a tenant with the virus so it is unlikely to be reasonable to charge a tenant for any form of special cleaning.
By the same token tenants are not able to leave tenancies early because of the disease, unless landlords or agents reach an agreement to that effect. So a tenant cannot leave a tenancy because they are ill, because a housemate or sharer is ill, or because someone has previously been ill in the property.
Agents and landlords that are contacted by tenants about the coronavirus should refer them to official guidance websites such as the NHS. It is important to stay calm at what is a worrying and difficult time for some. Therefore, advise will hopefully alleviate some anxiety so it is important that it comes from a reputable source.
The contents of this blog post is not legal advice and is provided for general information purposes only. If legal advice is needed readers should contact a solicitor. No responsibility for any information contained within this post is accepted and PainSmith solicitors accepts no liability in respect of the contents or for action taken based on this post.