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Reflections on 2020: A year of challenges and changes

In 2020, the word ‘isolation’ became commonplace; we all learnt how to spell ‘unprecedented’, and some of us discovered how to wear a mask without steaming up our glasses. It was a very sad year and we all feel for those who have lost family members and those who have not been able to meet up with treasured friends and family.

Working as a letting agent throughout the pandemic has been challenging and we thank all our landlords and tenants for their understanding and patience throughout 2020. Getting parts for repairs has been difficult for contractors who are working flat out whilst ensuring they keep themselves and tenants safe.

The demand for good quality rental properties remains strong and we have managed to successfully secure tenants for many landlords throughout both 2020 lockdowns and the accompanying restrictions. Practices have changed and the use of videos has surged – we introduced a YouTube channel that has proved very popular.

As block appointments cannot be undertaken due to coronavirus, we have had to change how we work and reduce the number of prospective tenants at viewings. Tenants are now vetted prior to viewings rather than after. Although this slows down the initial viewing stage, it is more secure for both parties – as tenants know that their application will be considered by landlords. Overall timescales remain the same. Choosing the right tenant is always crucial but even more so during a global pandemic. The six-month notice period and restrictions on evictions means that obtaining the right tenant for a property is critical. Nothing is fool proof but vetting is a key way of reducing risk.

After the pandemic, the next biggest change of 2020 was the introduction of electrical safety certificates. All new letting properties need a certificate and landlords have until the 1st April 2021 to obtain one for any tenanted properties. Click here to visit the government’s website for more details.

What’s new for 2021?

Right to Rent regulations may change as we have officially left the European Union. The government is yet to release full details on how we can check immigration status, but please be vigilant as the announcement should be imminent. In the meantime, lettings agents and landlords should continue to obtain relevant ID. Please note, the government is removing the COVID-19 allowance to allow the identification of documents via Zoom/WhatsApp – it must be checked in person. Click here to read the government guidance on ID.

There will be more challenges in 2021 as we enter a third national lockdown, but our Lettings team is ready for them. If you have a property to rent or you are looking for a new managing agent, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0113 264 2642 or

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Helen Jolly

Written by

Helen Jolly

Director (Lettings)

With a BSc in Estate Management, Helen has over 20 years’ experience in residential lettings and property management, from individual houses to property portfolios.

She set up Emsleys Estate Agents’ Lettings Service in 2007 and is responsible for assisting aspiring landlords or those with single or multiple properties to rent.