A series of posts giving advice and guidance to private residential landlords during this coronavirus emergency period.
1 The Importance of Keeping Records
I am making this the first post in this series as it applies to all situations.
You will, or should, already know that proper paperwork and record-keeping is essential for managing rented properties and avoiding issues with the authorities.
Managing rented property is highly regulated. However, during this emergency period, you may have to deal with things in a non-standard manner and deal with things in ways which are not strictly in compliance with the general law.
It may seem obvious to you now why you are doing things in a certain way. However, in six months or a year, it may be less obvious. If you are challenged you may find it difficult to explain your actions.
This is why it is important to have full records of everything. You need to record:
- All telephone calls – setting out what was discussed, what was agreed and why – and follow up and confirm oral agreements in writing (eg by email)
- All meetings (although in the current lockdown there should be very few)
- All decisions made – along with your reasons for making those decisions.
Keep a diary
Ideally, you should keep a diary of events setting out what happened, and why. This diary should include details of your reasons for decisions that you made.
If at a later stage you are challenged about something you may or may not have done, a note written at the time setting out your thinking and reasoning will be very helpful. It will show (for example) a Judge that you were acting in a reasonable manner after having considered the situation and the options available to you.
Things that may affect the decisions you make could include:
- Government guidance
- Medical advice
- The availability of tradespersons to carry out works
- Your assessment of the risk involved – for example, the risk to your tenants resulting from not carrying out certain works as opposed to the risk of spreading Covid 19.
How to keep a diary
How you do this is up to you.
- You may prefer to keep handwritten notes – eg in an exercise book
- You may use the free Google Drive system and keep your diary on a Google doc
- You may keep your records on word documents stored in Dropbox or OneDrive
If you have any good suggestions please put them in the comments below.
It is best to write things down immediately after the event (or even during it if possible) as that is the time when your recollection will be at its best.
Writing everything down may be the last thing you are thinking of just now. But please do it.
You may never need your records. However, they may prove to be critical at a later stage.