The obligations of landlords and tenants in relation to maintenance of buildings have not been affected by the coronavirus legislation. Landlords and tenants should continue with their usual maintenance tasks even if their business has been closed due to the movement restrictions.

In summary:

  • There do not appear to be any additional statutory obligations imposed on landlords/tenants under the Coronavirus Act 2020, The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 or The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020. The government has not made any relevant recommendations either.
  • In relation to residential property, the residential landlord and tenant guidance note from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government states that landlord’s health & safety obligations in relation to properties are not affected and that parties should do everything they would have done in any case, provided that they or their contractors can do so within the social distancing guidelines.

Landlords and tenants should therefore continue to perform their usual maintenance tasks, provided they can be carried out within the social distancing guidelines.

Landlords and tenants should also keep in mind that buildings closed due to coronavirus movement restrictions should, where possible, be maintained to the same standard, although in some respects the obligations can be different.

In particular, landlords and tenants should pay attention to:

  • Fire safety, including checks and maintenance of sprinklers and fire alarms
  • Gas safety, including periodic gas safety checks
  • Electrical safety, including shutting down any unused devices or machinery
  • Maintenance of water supply systems, including periodic flushing for the prevention of Legionnaires’ disease
  • Any specific obligations imposed by their lease
  • Any specific obligations imposed by their building insurance policy
  • Obligations imposed by any Electronic Communications Code agreement, in particular in relation to emergency access to installed equipment
  • Statutory duty of care in relation to risk of harm to trespassers imposed by Occupiers Liability Act 1984, especially in relation to industrial premises