- Common sense
- Safety Regulations
- Housing Health & Safety Rating System
- Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
- Smoke detectors
- Deposit Protection
- Right To Rent
If you have never let a property before, then it may seem a daunting project. At Whites, we are here to make the whole process as easy as possible. These simple guidance notes will help explain the process.
As a general rule, say to yourself ‘would I be happy to rent this property?’ If the answer is yes then you are probably 90% of the way to helping us find a suitable Tenant. If the answer is no, then ask us how you can bring your property up to a suitable standard. A lettable property not only attracts a better rent, but also a more suitable Tenant who will respect your investment.
Letting an unfurnished home is often easier. Unfurnished should still include carpets, curtains and kitchen appliances, which comply with current legislations. If you do leave contents then it is important that they are modern and in good condition. All Tenancy agreements allow for ‘fair wear and tear’, which means that after several years all items will needs replacing. Decoration should, whether furnished or unfurnished, be neutral and fresh.
Of major importance is that the property complies with the latest regulations, otherwise the consequences could result in you being liable to criminal prosecution. Prior to the commencement of the Tenancy the following must be checked:
The Gas Safety Installation and Use Regulations 1994. All gas appliances, associated pipework, flues and portable heaters must be checked by a registered Corgi engineer (who can be verified by CORGI on 01256 372300) who will provide a certificate. This is a mandatory requirement, and must be carried out annually. An up to date certificate must be made available to all tenants. We can arrange this on your behalf. A useful website is http:/www.hse.gov.uk/gas.main.htm
Furniture & Furnishing (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989 & 1993). Furniture and furnishings must meet the standard of these regulations in order to protect the tenant. Most modern furniture will satisfy this requirement, but you must check. Regulations cover the following items which contain upholstery:
- Beds, headboards, mattresses and sofa beds
- Nursery furniture
- Garden furniture which can be used indoors
- Furniture in new caravans
- Scatter cushions, seat pads and pillows
- Loose and stretch covers for furniture
The Regulations do not apply to:
- Sleeping bags & beds clothes (including duvets)
- Loose covers of mattresses
These may come under the General product Safety Regulations. All items should carry a display label at the point of sale, and some items will carry a permanent label. If in any doubt please contact the local Trading Standards Department, or a useful website http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file24685.pdf
The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994. These regulations apply to the supply of electrical equipment with a working voltage of between 50 and 1000 volts a.c or (75 and 1500 d.c). This imposes a duty on you as the supplier that they are ‘safe’ as defined by section 19 of the act, so that there is no risk of injury or death to humans or pets, or risk of damage to property.
The regulations cover all mains voltage household electric goods including cookers, kettles, toasters, electric blankets, washing machines, immersions heaters etc. The act also requires if any equipment is supplied with any particular characteristic, suitable information or instruction booklets should be provided. At Whites we will keep these for you and supply copies to the tenant.
Plugs & Sockets (Safety) Regulations 1994. These regulations require that where any plug, socket or adaptor supplied for intended domestic use, complies with the appropriate current standard, and specifically that:
- The live and neutral pins on the plugs are part insulated so as to prevent shocks when removing plugs from sockets, and
- All plugs are pre-wired.
Smoke Detectors Act 1991. This act requires that all new houses that have been built since 1992 must by law have a smoke detector installed; minimum requirement being one smoke alarm on each level of the building. If there are smoke alarms in a property, as Landlord you are liable to make sure they work.
Failure to comply with the Electrical Equipment Regulations 1994 and the Consumer Protection Act 1987 may result in:
- A fine of up to £5,000 per item not complying
- Six months imprisonment
- Possible manslaughter charges in the event of death
- The Tenant may sue for damages
- Your property insurance may be invalidated
These regulations are enforced by the Health & Safety Executive.
If Whites are managing the property we insist an Electrical Certificate is obtained.
As part of the Housing Act 2004, the above rating system can now be applied to rental properties. This is to maintain a certain standard of condition in which people live, and to protect them from hazards.
As Agents, we can only provide general guidance in relation to your property; we include the various 29 hazards, which if you feel any apply to your property will need immediate rectification.
If you are concerned about this, then a suitable qualified surveyor would need to be contacted.www.rics.org
What are the hazards?
The system can deal with 29 hazards summarised are follows:
- Dampness, excess cold/heat
- Pollutants e.g. asbestos, carbon monoxide, lead
- Lack of space, security or lighting, or excessive noise
- Poor hygiene, sanitation, water supply
- Accidents – falls, electric shocks, fires, burns, scalds
- Collisions, explosions, structural collapse
Each hazard is assessed separately, and if judged to be ‘serious, with a ‘high score’, is deemed to be a category 1 hazard. All other hazards are called unsurprisingly, category 2 hazards.
The chart below sets out more information relating to every hazard.
From the 1st of October 2008 it is necessary when marketing a property for rent to be able to provide the prospective tenant an EPC. The EPC provides tenants with information about how energy efficient a property is. The certificate provides a rating between A to G where A is very efficient and G is very inefficient. The rating is based on factors such as age, property layout, construction, heating, lighting and insulation. The certificate provides information about how much it is likely to cost the tenant to run the property. The certificate lasts 10 years.
As of October 2015 all properties, at minimum, are required to have smoke detectors on each level and carbon monoxide detectors where there is a solid fuel burning appliance.
It is also a recommendation that there is a carbon monoxide detector close to a gas central heating boiler.
The Housing Act 2004 introduced tenancy deposit protection for all assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) in England and Wales. Find out more about how Whites help landlords handle tenancy deposits.
A new duty has fallen on letting agents and landlords – to carry out risk assessments for legionnaire’s disease, and if necessary, take action.
The Health and Safety Executive have released a revised Approved Code of Practice: Legionaires’ disease: The control of legionella bacteria in water systems. A useful summary from the 2014 document.
“2.142 Simple control measures can help manage the risk of exposure to legionella
and should be maintained, such as:
- avoiding debris getting into the system (eg ensure the cold water tanks, where fitted, have a tight-fitting lid);
- flushing out the system before letting the property;
- setting control parameters (eg setting the temperature of the calorifier to ensure water is stored at 60 °C);
- making sure any redundant pipework identified is removed
- advising tenants to regularly clean and disinfect shower-heads.
It underlines legal requirements for landlords and managing agents to ensure that the risk from exposure to legionella from all water systems in residential rental premises is controlled.
The new guidance insists that landlords and agents must keep records for at least five years. They must give details on all aspects of risk assessment control.
To comply with the law, landlords and agents need to be aware that legionella bacteria can multiply in hot or cold water systems and storage tanks, and be spread via showers and taps. Risk assessments must identify and assess potential sources of exposure, and steps taken to prevent or control any risk that is identified.
Steps taken to control the threat of legionella include disinfecting the system, ensuring no water can stagnate in anyway, insulating pipework, and keeping water cisterns covered and free of debris.
On Managed properties, where Landlords wish us, we have implemented a check list system so that between tenancies we will check the above to the best of our ability and advise Landlords if there seems to be a problem that needs addressing. If a property is empty for over one week between tenancies we will also run showers to avoid stagnation of water. We will also be advising on potential problems on our inspections. It is now necessary to have hot water cylinders set at 60 degrees. On tenancy agreements from 2015, there is an extra clause for tenants advising them that if they are away for over a week then they need to run the water, especially in showers, before use and to advise us if the temperature of their water drops noticeably.
The Health and Safety Executive have produced two guides following an Approved Code of Practice:
1 – Legionnaires’ disease: a brief guide for duty holders – http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg458.pdf
2 – Legionnaires’ disease: The control of legionella bacteria in water systems. http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/l8.pdf
These documents spell out the legal requirements for landlords and managing agents to help them ensure that the tenant’s risk from exposure to legionella from water systems in residential rental property is safely controlled.
Code of Practice on illegal immigrants and private rented accommodation Housing illegal immigrants in the private rented sector allows such people to establish a settled life in the UK and frustrate the necessary process of returning them to their home country. This creates a significant cost to the public purse and also reduces the amount of housing stock available to British citizens and others residing here legally.
As a landlord, you have a responsibility to restrict illegal immigrants accessing the private rented sector.
The residential tenancies provisions of the Immigration Act 2014 (‘the act’) came into force in parts of the UK on 1 December 2014 in the cities of Birmingham and Wolverhampton and the Metropolitan Boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall.
Under section 22 of the Immigration Act 2014 a landlord should not authorise an adult to occupy property as their only or main home under a residential tenancy agreement unless the adult is a British citizen, or a European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss national, or has a ‘right to rent’ in the UK.
Someone will have the ‘right to rent’ in the UK provided they are present lawfully in accordance with immigration laws.
Section 23 of the act allows the Secretary of State to serve a landlord with a notice requiring the payment of a penalty of a specified amount where they have let property to an unqualified person in a tenancy subject to the scheme (in this code the restrictions and civil penalty provisions are referred to as ‘the scheme’). This code outlines which tenancies are subject to the scheme and how any penalty will be applied as a result of the scheme.
A statutory excuse under section 24 of the Immigration Act 2014 allows landlords (section 26 for agents) to avoid a penalty for letting their property to someone disqualified from renting. Landlords can establish a statutory excuse against liability for a civil penalty by conducting simple document checks before allowing adults to occupy rented accommodation.
Landlords should not let property for use by an adult who cannot satisfy a right to rent check. Some documents will allow for an unlimited right to rent, while others will allow for a time-limited right to rent and these are detailed in this code. Where a landlord has previously let accommodation to a person with a time-limited right to rent, they can maintain their excuse against a penalty by conducting follow-up checks as detailed in this code. If follow-up checks indicate that the person no longer has the right to rent, to maintain their excuse the landlord should make a report to the Home Office as soon as reasonably practicable. Landlords will need to keep records of the checks they have undertaken for those people who will occupy their accommodation.
This is the second version of this code, and it will apply with effect from 1st February 2016. The earlier version of this code will still apply for tenancies which began before this date. However, this version of the code should be applied for repeat right to rent checks if they are required after it comes into effect: this is the case for tenancies which began prior to this.
Landlords have the option to appoint an agent to act on their behalf. Where an agent has accepted responsibility for compliance with the scheme, the agent will be the liable party in place of the landlord.