Important Information for Landlords
Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998 as amended by the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) (Amendment) Regulations 2018
The Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998 as amended specially deal with the installation, maintenance and use of gas appliances, fittings and flues in domestic and certain commercial premises. They place duties on landlords to ensure that gas appliances, fittings and flues provided for tenants’ use are safe. These duties to protect tenants safety are in addition to the more general ones that landlords have to comply with under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
Each year, all such appliances must be serviced by an engineer who is registered with Gas Safe and a safety record provided in a prescribed format and a copy issued to the existing tenant within 28 days of completion, or for a new tenant before they move in. The record of the gas safety check must be kept until two further checks have been carried out.
The appliances must be maintained in a safe condition and the safety record must be provided annually. This cannot be delegated to the tenant, however it can be delegated to the managing agents, although overall responsibility lies with the landlord. Non-compliance with the Gas Safety Regulations could jeopardise the life of the tenant. Not only that, you risk being prosecuted which could result in imprisonment and/or a fine for each offence. As these provisions apply equally to the managing agent as well as the landlord, you will understand that we must make a clear stance in this matter to the extent that we are unable to accept and/or retain a property on our books that does not comply with these regulations.
Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015
From the 1st October 2015 landlords 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 put a carbon monoxide alarm in any room where solid fuel is burnt, such as wood, coal or biomass and includes open fires. Landlords or agents will then have to ensure that the alarms work at the start of each new tenancy. For example, by pressing the test button until the alarm sounds.
With effect from 1st October 2022, the Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations will be amended. From 1st October 2022, in addition to ensuring that a smoke alarm is installed on every floor of a domestic property which has living accommodation, a carbon monoxide alarm will be required in any lived-in room with a fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers). Landlords or agents must replace any faulty alarms if a tenant informs them of an issue.
The requirements will be enforced by local authorities who can impose a fine up to £5,000 where a landlord fails to comply with a remedial notice.
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 came into force from 1st June 2020
Landlords in the Private Rented Sector must ensure every electrical installation in their residential premises, such as light fixtures and electrical sockets, are inspected and tested at intervals of no more than 5 years by a qualified and competent person.
An Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) must be acquired before the start of any new tenancy from 1st July 2020 and any existing tenancies from 1st April 2021.
Landlords must supply a copy of the inspection report to the tenants within 28 days of inspection. They must also supply a copy of the inspection report to any prospective tenant within 28 days of it being requested in writing. Landlords must also retain a copy so they can supply one to their local authority if asked.
If the report requires the landlord to make repairs to ensure the safety of the property, the remedial work must be carried out by a qualified person (e.g. an electrician) within 28 days or sooner if the report requires.
Although no specific requirement for portable appliance testing to be carried out in rented accommodation, the landlord is required to take reasonable steps to ensure that appliances such as electric kettles, provided as part of the tenancy are safe.
We are happy to arrange for the necessary electrical inspections to be carried out on your behalf.
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) (amended) Regulations 1988
All upholstered furniture and furnishings in rented properties must pass the ‘cigarette test ‘. If any property is found not to comply the landlord can face prosecution. Any landlord placing a property on the rental market must comply with these regulations immediately, any furniture not complying must be removed before the tenancy commences. Similarly, if any items in a property subject to an existing rental are replaced, either during a tenancy or a void period, those replacement items must continue to satisfy the requirements of these important regulations.
Generally, most furniture purchased from a reputable supplier after March 1990 should comply with the regulations and will be labelled accordingly. Further advice on this issue is available from your local Trading Standards office. Always ensure that if you are to rent your property fully furnished that all the furniture is reasonably new (certainly less than 20 years old) and that it complies with the regulations.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
Any building which is sold, rented out or constructed must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
This must be issued by a qualified and accredited assessor in an independent manner. Once produced an EPC is valid for 10 years. The certificate is accompanied with recommendations on how to improve energy efficiency. Providing the property has at least an E rating, the recommendations do not have to be implemented.
From 1st April 2020 there is a requirement for any property rented out, in the private sector, to have a minimum energy performance rating of E. The regulations apply to all tenancies. With effect from 1stApril 2020, it will be unlawful to rent a property which breaches the requirement for a minimum E rating, unless there is an applicable exemption. A civil penalty will be imposed for breaches.
Blinds, Curtains & Shutter Safety
New European Regulations, have seen a tightening of safety regulations for blinds, curtains and shutters.
This means new blinds, curtains or shutters been installed by a contractor will have fixed cords or ball bearing pulls to prevent the danger of asphyxiation to a young child; and a warning notice with the purchasing material. Existing blinds, curtains or shutters may need to be fitted with safety features, such as fitting a tensioning device or cleat, to ensure the safety of a young child.
All hot and cold water systems in residential properties are a potential source for legionella bacteria growth. There is a legal duty for landlords to assess and control the exposure to legionella bacteria. Although landlords are not required to produce or obtain a Legionnaires testing certificate, the landlord of a private rented property is required to protect their tenants against the risk of contracting Legionnaires Disease.
Right to Rent
From 1st February 2016, landlords or their agents will be required to check that prospective tenants have a right to rent to comply with the Immigration Act 2014. This will require the landlord or agent establishing who will live in the property and that the prospective occupiers have a right to rent. Establishing the right to rent requires the landlord or agent checking documentation which shows the individual’s indefinite right to remain in the UK. Where the documentation shows the person only has the right to remain in the UK for a limited period, landlords or their agents will need to conduct follow up checks before the expiry of the individuals right to be in the UK.
If a property is let to someone who does not have the right to rent, a fine of up to £3,000 per illegal occupier can be levied. We, therefore, cannot agree a let until the applicant(s) have provided the correct documentation.
Tenancy Deposit Regulations
The requirements of the Housing Act 2004 relating to tenants’ deposits, came into force on 6th April 2007. All deposits held relating to an Assured
Shorthold Tenancy must be held in an approved tenancy deposit protection scheme. Daisy Investment Property Services, is a member of an approved tenancy deposit protection scheme. All deposits held by Daisy Investment Property Services, relating to an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, will meet the requirements relating to tenants’ deposits.
Refundable Tenancy Deposits
From the 1st June 2019, a refundable tenancy deposit is capped at no more than 5 week’s rent where the total annual rent is below £50,000, or 6 week’s rent where the total annual rent is £50,000 or above. Any amount above this will be a prohibited payment.
Tenant Fees Act (2019)
From 1st June 2019, the only payments that landlords or letting agents can charge tenants in relation to new contracts are:
- A refundable tenancy deposit capped at no more than 5 week’s rent where the total annual rent is less than £50,000 or 6 week’s rent where the total annual rent is £50,000 or above
- A refundable holding deposit (to reserve a property) capped at no more than 1 week’s rent
- Payments associated with early termination of the tenancy, when requested by the tenant
- Payments capped at £50 (or reasonably incurred costs, if higher) for the variation, assignment or novation of a tenancy
- Payments in respect of utilities, communication services, TV licence and council tax
- A default fee for late payment of rent and replacement of lost key/security device giving access to the housing, where required under a tenancy agreement
The Fifth Money Laundering Directive (5MLD)
On the 10th January 2020 5MLD will take effect in the UK. Letting agents that facilitate rent transactions in excess of €10,000 per calendar month will be subject to The Fifth Money Laundering Directive.
All tenancy agreements with a rent is excess of €10,000 per calendar month with now form part of the regulation. This means letting agents will be required to do “Know Your Customer” checks on tenants and landlords for high value transactions that fall within the scope of the regulation.
Homes (Fitness For Human Habitation) Act
The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, known as the Homes Act 2018, replaces Section 8 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, with the purpose of improving living standards in the private and social rented sectors. Section 8 of the 1985 Act implied that a property would be fit for habitation at the start of the tenancy and kept fit thereafter. However, this was limited to leases where the rent was no more than £80 per annum in London and £52 per annum outside of London.
Under the Homes Act 2018, landlords and letting agents acting on their behalf must ensure properties, including common parts where they have an estate or interest, are fit for human habitation at the beginning and throughout the duration of a tenancy. Tenants will now be able to take direct legal action, if their landlord does not comply with the Act.
The Debt Respite Scheme (England and Wales) Regulations 2020
As of 4th May 2021, the Debt Respite Scheme (breathing space) allows people with unsustainable debts to arrange to enter a breathing space. Once somebody has entered a breathing space, their landlord or letting agent are not allowed to contact them directly to request payment of the debt.
Since the Housing Act 2004, local authorities have had powers to regulate standards in the private rented sector by introducing property licensing schemes.
There are currently three types of licensing scheme in the UK:
- Mandatory licensing applies to all Houses in Multiple Occupancy
(HMO’s) having 5 or more occupants living as 2 or more households.
- Additional licensing schemes can be introduced by councils at their discretion. They apply to smaller HMO’s.
- Selective licensing schemes can be introduced by councils at their discretion. All private rented properties within a selective licensing area require a license, unless otherwise exempt, no matter the make up of the household.
The penalties for operating an unlicensed property are significant. Councils can issue penalties up to £30,000 and tenants can claim back up to 12 month’s rent.
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Mike Walsh (Durham & Teesside Region)
Andy Walsh (Tyne & Wear Region)