Skip to content

What should I do about non-urgent repairs?

As discussed above, Covid-19 will inevitably deplete the workforce of housing providers in the foreseeable future. It would be prudent to consider making short-term policy changes to deal with this situation and manage the expectations of tenants going forward. A key policy change to consider is the extension of the standard lead-time for completing all non-urgent repairs and inform tenants of this change.

Such a change will also reduce pressure on landlords and front-facing staff.

As above, employers must protect the interests of their staff, particularly regarding health and safety. Extra care should be exercised when assessing the level of emergency of a repair on a case by case basis. All efforts should be made to reduce the number of attendances at properties by repair staff, whilst keeping all tenants safe.

As ever, communication is key – the pandemic cannot be used as a blanket excuse for abstaining from all duties and obligations. Housing providers must take a pragmatic approach in safeguarding customers whilst considering the interests of is workers. Maintaining lines of communication with all parties remains paramount.

Related FAQs

Do I still need to pay instalments of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) while the development site is closed?

Payments of the Community Infrastructure Levy (“CIL”) are tied to commencement of development, and where an instalment policy is in place, the instalments are usually tied to periods of time following commencement rather than build out rates. Therefore where a development has commenced, payments of CIL are likely to fall due in respect of a site notwithstanding that the site may have temporarily closed or build out rates have slowed.

New regulations now in force, provide some additional relief for those developers with an annual turnover of £45 million or less. Such relief will allow the Council to defer payments, disapply late interest charges, and refund late interest charges that have already been levied since 21 March 2020.

For those developers that cannot benefit from the new provisions, unless a Council has adopted an exceptional circumstances relief policy the regulations do not provide for any relief to be provided in instances where payment of CIL will create viability issues. Most Councils have not adopted such a policy, and in those circumstances the CIL liability will remain due in accordance with the payment schedule on the demand notice.

Councils are at liberty to amend their instalment policies in accordance with their own internal procedures, and the Government is encouraging Councils to explore this option to provide some relief to developers. However this will only assist in respect of any prospective instalments where the development commences after the new instalment policy has been adopted.

For those developers whose annual turnover exceeds £45 million, the Government seems to be taking the view that such developers can afford their CIL liabilities regardless of the current climate. The only concession the Government has proposed is to encourage Councils to make use of the existing discretion they have in respect of the imposition of surcharges for late payments.

I hold a licence but can’t trade. Can I terminate it?

A licence to occupy premises is not an interest land and operates as a commercial contract between the parties that enter into it. Licences tend to be put in place to cover short periods and consequently they are generally a lot more flexible than commercial leasing arrangements. To that extent occupants under licences should review the contract to establish whether or not there are any provision allowing them to terminate on notice to the Licensor.

Occupants under licences that are granted for longer periods without the option to terminate may try to argue that the contract has frustrated because they are effectively unable to occupy.

Are there specific examples given?

The guidance gives numerous examples of the types of performance adjustment which parties should consider. For example this includes:

  • Varying deadlines (e.g. for performance or payment)
  • Varying compensation (e.g. to recognise increased costs)
  • Varying the nature of performance (e.g. allowing substitute goods, allowing pert delivery of services)

The guidance also encourages a reasonable approach to enforcement, which might encourage delaying issuing formal proceedings, increased use of mediation or providing more information to the other party than would be volunteered under normal circumstances.

VIDEO: Commercial law implications of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill

Partners Damien Charlton and Jane Garvin look at the provisions of the Bill which impact on a supplier’s rights under a contract when their customer enters an insolvency procedure. They also outline other changes to insolvency procedures that the new law will introduce.

This webinar is part of a series designed for in-house lawyers.  If you would like to register to receive invitations to future events for in-house legal counsel, please email damien.charlton@wardhadaway.com.

If there is an outbreak of coronavirus in a workplace – will it be RIDDOR reportable?

The reporting requirements relating to cases of, or deaths from, COVID-19 under RIDDOR apply only to occupational exposure, that is, as a result of a person’s work.

You should only make a report under RIDDOR when one of the following circumstances applies:

  • an accident or incident at work has, or could have, led to the release or escape of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence
  • a person at work (a worker) has been diagnosed as having COVID-19 attributed to an occupational exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a case of disease
  • a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a work-related death due to exposure to a biological agent