Guide to Lettings

Here you will find a brief guild into your obligation and legal requirements when letting your property. It’s vital you get all these legal requirements in place before any tenancy begins, please note if any of them don’t happen, you could be fined or even imprisoned.

Your responsibilities as a landlord are numerous. By using a reputable letting agent such as REMAX, these burdens can be shared and managed, you will also benefit from the advice given to you by experienced and knowledgeable staff.

RIGHTS OF THE LANDLORD & TENANTS

Landlords have the right to:

  • Receive the agreed value of rent on time and review the rent value
  • Serve notice on the tenant in accordance with current housing legislation (please note that some notices are discretionary)
  • Have the property returned to them in the same condition it was granted, subject to fair wear and tear
  • Emergency access to the property (you must give 24 hours’ written notice in all other circumstances and have agreed on access to the property with the tenant)

Tenants have the right to:

  • Live in a property that is in a good state of repair and be protected from unlawful eviction
  • Have their deposit returned to them at the end of the tenancy if they have met all the terms in their tenancy agreement
  • Be provided with the Energy Performance Certificate and Gas Safety Record at the commencement of the tenancy
  • Know who they should serve notice to details of which will be outlined within the tenancy agreement

The law says you must not discriminate against a tenant or prospective tenant. This is based on their race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation or gender reassignment, pregnancy or maternity, or any disability. Any advice we give you will reflect this.

You must provide a well maintained safe and healthy environment for the whole time your tenant stays in your property and You are responsible for keeping your property in repair, including:

  • The general good condition and maintenance of the property, contents, fixtures and fittings
  • The structure and exterior, for example, the walls, roof, foundations, drains, guttering and external pipes, windows and external doors
  • Basins, sinks, baths, toilets and their pipework
  • Water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, water tanks, boilers, radiators, gas fires, fitted electric fires or fitted heaters.

These requirements fall under sections 11 to 16 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (as amended by the Housing Act 1988) as well as the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018. From March 2020 this act will also apply to all tenancies.

HEALTH & SAFETY RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Gas Safety (installation and use) Regulations 1998
    Gas Safety inspections are mandatory and must be conducted yearly. The maximum penalty for not adhering to the regulations is £5000 fine and/or 6 month’s imprisonment. However, more serious charges may be brought if a tenant or occupier dies as a result of non-compliance.

    All gas appliances, pipework, flues and boilers must be maintained in a safe condition They must be serviced annually. It’s a legal requirement to have the gas checks done annually. Only gas safe registered engineers can do the checks and certificates if you’re organising these yourself you should check their membership is up to date to make sure their report will be valid.

    If you already have a gas safety record, for it to be valid it’ll need at least 30 days left to run you’ll need to have a copy ready for your tenant’s move-in day. If you need to organise a new one, please book it for at least seven days before the start of the tenancy to make sure you’ll have enough time to organise any work needed before your tenants arrive. A gas safety record is different from a boiler service. During the tenancy, any updated gas records must be given to tenants within 28 days of being done.

    You’ll need to tell your tenants where to turn the gas off in an emergency, the emergency shut off valves must be marked, and you’ll need to give them the National Grid’s gas emergency number: 0800 111 999

  • Electrical Equipment safety
    The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 require that electrical equipment, including wiring, is safe and will not cause harm.

    From 1st July 2020, every tenant entering into a new tenancy must receive a copy of the EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) or if it’s a new build an Electrical Installation Certificate before they move in. Your penalty for not doing this can be a fine of up to £30,000. Electrical checks have to be completed at least every five years unless your electrical contractor says this needs to be sooner.

    You must complete any works repair or replacements indicated on the report:

  • Code 1s – Danger present. Risk of injury. Any remedial works must be dealt with immediately if found during a tenancy or before a tenancy starts.
  • Code 2s – Potentially dangerous. Remedial work must be dealt with before a tenancy starts, or be flagged with your tenant, booked and remedied within 28 days.
  • FI – Further investigation (FI) is required without delay. Any remedial works must be dealt with immediately if found during a tenancy or before a tenancy starts.
  • Code 3s – These are improvement recommendations (they are not mandatory), it is advisable to complete the works.
  • PAT Testing
    You should also have a Portable Appliance Test (PAT) checks completed. If the worst were to happen during the tenancy and you hadn’t done this, your insurance may be invalid and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and or your tenant, could take legal action against you if you can’t prove your let property was electrically safe. If the PAT records, there’s any work or replacements needed, this must happen before the tenancy starts. All appliances must have the CE marking or similar evidence of its compliance with EU legislation.
  • Appliances
    All appliances and machinery, including the boiler, must be in good working order and serviced as appropriate. Manufacturers’ instruction manuals for all appliances should be left in the property. Details of any maintenance contracts should also be supplied
  • Legionella’s risk assessment
    Legionella naturally occurs within water supplies making every property a potential risk. Legionella is a serious flu-like illness which is very often mistaken for pneumonia and can be fatal. You are legally required to ensure your tenants’ risk of exposure to legionella is properly assessed and controlled. We work with legionella risk assessment specialists who can help you determine the risks to your property and tenants.

    If your property has not been lived in for more than 14 days before a tenancy starts then at this point, or immediately before tenants check-in, you must make sure all hot and cold water outlets are run freely for a minimum of three minutes in order to purge the water system of any stale water. Read more information on water safety and reducing the risk of legionella.

  • Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations (2015)
    From 1 October 2015, landlords will have to ensure that a smoke alarm is fitted on every floor of their property where there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation. They will also have to install a carbon monoxide alarm in any room where solid fuel is burnt, such as wood, coal or biomass and includes open fires. Landlords will have to ensure that the alarms work at the start of each tenancy. For example, by pressing the test button until the alarm sounds. They are also required to demonstrate that the alarms were working at the start of the tenancy.
  • Furniture and furnishings
    From the 1st January 1997, all upholstered furniture in rented accommodation must comply with the fire resistance requirements of the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended).

    Failure to comply with the Furniture and Furnishings Regulations may constitute a criminal offence under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, which carries a maximum penalty on summary conviction of a £5,000 fine and/or six month’s imprisonment.

    You’ll need to show us evidence that any soft furnishings in your property comply with furniture fire and safety regulations. We’ll need to see the fixed labels, or receipts that prove you bought the items new and after 1990. Anything that doesn’t comply must be removed from the property before the tenancy starts. If you’re unsure about any of the items you’re leaving, check firesafe.org.uk/furniture-and furnishings- fire-safety-regulations.

    All upholstered or part-upholstered furniture is covered by the regulations including mattresses, pillows, and cushions. Each piece of furniture that complies with these regulations should have a rectangular label permanently attached to it with the heading “CARELESSNESS CAUSES FIRE”.

    If you choose to let your property furnished, it will need to be fully equipped so that the tenant(s) can move in with only their belongings, and all furniture included by you will be your responsibility to repair and replace. Unfurnished accommodation should include the basics – carpets, curtains and basic kitchen appliances. A full inventory is vital for all properties, particularly when furnished.

  • Making any asbestos checks
    Asbestos is known to be dangerous when it is broken down or damaged. But, due to its age, we’re finding cases where asbestos is starting to deteriorate. It’s important to know if your property or outbuildings and so on, have any asbestos. Where you know, or suspect there might be any asbestos, you’ll need to arrange for an asbestos survey. If the survey says you need any work done, or asbestos is found you’ll need a management plan. This must be in place before the tenancy starts. If you already have an asbestos management plan or have to get one, we’ll need to see a copy of the report and let the tenants know.

OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Right to Rent
    From 1st February 2016, all private landlords in England will be required to check that any potential tenants have the right to be in the UK before renting out their property. Under the new rules, landlords who fail to check a potential tenant’s ‘Right to Rent’ will face penalties of up to £3,000 per tenant. Follow up checks may also be required.
  • Deposit Protection legislation under the Housing act 2004
    This act requires landlords and/or letting agencies to protect tenant’s deposits, this act applies to Assured Shorthold Tenancies. Penalties for failure to register deposits include compensating the tenants up to 3 times the deposit amount. In addition, under the deregulations act 2015, landlords will not be able to issue a section 21 notice to regain possession of a property unless they have complied with the tenancy deposit legislation.
  • Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
    As of 1st October 2008, all rental properties are required to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). From April 1st 2018, all privately rented properties where a new or renewal tenancy is granted must have an EPC rating of E or above, as laid out in the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015. We can help you understand what this means and assist with any works required. Please visit the Government website to see the full guidance at: Gov.uk/Energy Efficiency Standards.
  • Section 21 form 6A

    From 1 October 2018, all fixed term assured shorthold tenancies in England will be subject to new rules under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.With the new rules, landlords and agents that wish to serve their tenants with a Section 21, or ‘no-fault’ eviction must ensure that they have issued a ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’ guide, provide tenants with an up to date Gas Safety Certificate, Issue the property’s Energy Performance Certificate, give tenants the Prescribed Information relating to the protection of their deposit (which must be protected), Where the property is licensed, provide a copy of the licence to all of the property’s tenants.

    Failure to do so your section 21 notice may be deemed as invalid. Under the new rules, your section 21 notice will only be valid for 6 months. If the 6 months lapse a new section 21 notice will have to be served.

  • Consents
    You need to check the requirements of your lease in connection with sub-letting and obtain the necessary consent if required. If you have a mortgage on your property, consent may also be required.
  • Repairs
    Your obligations are clearly determined in section 11 of the landlord and tenant Act 1985 and include the legal requirement to maintain the structure and exterior of the property, heating and plumbing installations and dealing with routine repairs. If the property is leasehold, the landlord is responsible for paying the service charge and ground rent.

LICENCING

Private Rented Sector Property Licensing and HMO Management

Selective Licence

This applies to any rented property, regardless of whether it is an HMO or not. You’ll only need a selective licence, if your local authority have introduced a selective licensing scheme and your property is rented and in the selective licensing area.

HMO: House in Multiple Occupation

Household: either a single person or members of the same family who live together. A family includes people who are:

  • married or living together
  • relatives or half-relatives, for example grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings
  • stepparents and stepchildren
  • household staff such as a nanny or au pair.

Small/basic HMO: any property let to three or four tenants who aren’t all part of the same household where some or all of the bathroom and or kitchen facilities are shared.

Large HMO: any property let to five or more tenants who aren’t all part of the same household where some or all of the bathroom and or kitchen facilities are shared.

Every HMO whether it needs a licence or not must comply with the HMO Management Regulations 2006.

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