No matter how experienced a landlord may be, it is very likely that certain situations will arise when legal compliance or resolution is not quite clear. This is not surprising as legislation is tightening all the time and it can be challenging for landlords to stay on top of all the changes.
Rest assured, our experienced team will guide you through the maze of regulations to ensure compliance throughout the tenancy. Below is a brief summary of the most fundamental legislation – this is not an exhaustive list as there are about 150 legal rules & regulations affecting the lettings industry.
Instructing an ARLA/Propertymark accredited agency reduces the risk of non-compliance, removes the stress of keeping up with regulations while providing you with that extra peace of mind knowing that the tenancy is compliant and your investment is protected. Why not contact us today for a chat or to learn more about the imminent Renters Reform Bill?
Landlord and Tenant Act 1985: Section 11 of this Act lays out a landlord's obligation to maintain and repair a rented home. Major repairs include: the structure of the building, including the roof, windows and doors, gas pipes, radiators and boiler, electrical wiring, water pipes from the mains into the home and hot water and sinks, baths, toilets, showers and drains etc.
Housing Act 1988: In summary, this Act introduced the modern Assured Tenancy Agreement (AST) giving the tenant the right to live at the property, undisturbed and for a pre-agreed period of time. In turn, landlords were given the authority to set the rent themselves and to terminate the tenancy after the expiry of the tenancy (Section 21 Notice). In addition, grounds for seeking possession orders were introduced – mandatory grounds (covering grounds 1 to 8) means that if a claim is proven, then the court must grant the possession order. All the other grounds are discretionary grounds and are often used in conjunction with mandatory grounds.
The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018: In March 2019 a new Act came into force to ensure that rented properties are ‘fit for human habitation’. All rented properties must be safe, secure, warm and dry. If the standard of a property is below this standard (for example, tenants live in dangerous or unhealthy conditions), then tenants can take the landlord to court. The court can insist that a landlord carries out certain repairs to ensure the health and safety of tenants. In addition, the court may also decide that the landlord is compensating the tenant.
Tenant Fees Act 2019: This Act bans most letting fees and caps tenancy deposits paid by tenants. In summary, tenants should be aware of all potential costs which may occur at the outset and throughout a tenancy.
Deposit: It is a legal requirement to register the deposit in a government approved scheme within the first 30 days if the Tenancy is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. A breach of the requirement means a significant fine and a Section 21 Notice will not be valid.
Deposit Replacement Schemes (such as nil-deposit options) are becoming increasingly popular for tenants as it reduces the initial outlay at the beginning of the tenancy. However, it is important to recognise that this option can only be offered to tenants as a choice. If tenants prefer to pay the traditional deposit, then they have the right to do so.
Deregulation Act 2015 (updated October 2018): This Act was introduced to protect tenants against unfair eviction where they have raised a legitimate complaint about the condition of their home. It also states that landlords have to provide all new tenants with information about their rights and responsibilities as tenants. A landlord cannot serve a section 21 notice unless they have complied with certain legal responsibilities.
Immigration Act and Right to Rent: The law introduced a requirement from 1 February 2016 for all landlords of private rental accommodation in England to carry out ‘right to rent’ checks for new tenancy agreements to determine whether occupiers aged 18 and over have the right to live in the UK legally. We will carry out those checks before the tenancy commences including follow-up checks if applicable.
Safety Regulations and Certificates:
The Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) (England & Wales) Regulations 2007: All properties require an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). From 6th April 2012, the regulation was changed slightly. An EPC must be commissioned BEFORE a property can be marketed. The Energy Performance must be an essential part of any written particulars for properties marketed for rent and a copy supplied to tenants. We can also arrange for this to be carried out (price to be quoted). The EPC will last for 10 years whether or not improvements are carried out. In April 2018 the Government put Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) in place which should be adhered to by all new tenancies. This means that every property with an EPC rating that falls below E can no longer be rented out to tenants. This includes any extensions and renewals of existing tenancies.
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 were amended in 1993 and 2010 and set new levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture and furnishings. It is an offence to provide any furniture, that does not comply with the regulations The regulations apply to: sofas, beds, head boards, children's furniture, garden furniture suitable for use in a property, scatter cushions and pillows, stretch or loose covers for furniture and other similar items. The regulations do not apply to: curtains, carpets, bed clothes (incl. duvets) and mattress covers. Provided furniture must have fire resistant filling and passed certain safety tests.
Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rent Sector (England) Regulations 2020 (EICR’s): Ensuring the electrical installations are inspected and tested by a qualified and competent person at an interval of at least every 5 years and to obtain a report from the person conducting the inspection and test which gives the results and sets a date for the next inspection and test. A copy of this report must be supplied to the Tenant before the tenancy commences. Where the report shows that remedial or further investigative work is necessary, complete this work within 28 days or any shorter period if specified as necessary in the report. Supply written confirmation of the completion of the remedial works from the electrician to the tenant and the local authority within 28 days of completion of the works.
Gas Safety Regulations 1994: The landlord is responsible for ensuring that all gas appliances are inspected and maintained in accordance with the Gas Safety Regulations 1994. A Gas Safety Record MUST be provided prior to a Tenant moving in and further inspections carried out on an annual basis. We can arrange for a Gas Safe registered engineer to carry this out on your behalf if required and will, as standard, be ensuring that a fully working and approved CO monitor is in place (price to be quoted). Since 1st January 2013 all gas installations, where a flue is concealed behind a wall or within a ceiling void, must have inspection hatches so that a visual inspection of the complete flue can be carried out.
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 (Amended 2020 and 2022): At least one smoke alarm to be installed on every habitable storey of the property. Ensure a carbon monoxide alarm is equipped in any room used as living accommodation which contains a fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers). Ensure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are repaired or replaced once informed and found that they are faulty. All alarms need to be checked on the day when the tenancy commences and must be checked on a regular basis.
Legionella: Landlords must assess and control the risk of exposure of tenants to legionella to ensure the safety of their tenants, but this does not require an in-depth detailed assessment. Control measures can include: flushing out the water system before letting the property, ensuring cold water tanks have a tight lid to stop debris getting into the system, setting control parameters to ensure water is stored at the correct temperature, removing any unused pipework. Tenants should be kept informed of any control measures and tell the landlord if problems occur with the water system or if the water is not heating properly. For more information, please visit hse.gov.uk/legionnaires.
The Housing Act 2004 and the Localism Act 2011 state that properties which house more than a certain number of people may require licensing (i.e. 3 or more individuals who are not related) – Houses in Multiple Occupation. The penalties for not licensing the property are far reaching and will cause problems obtaining the rent and possession from the tenants. Some local authorities (including Barnet since October 2022) also require licencing for an “Additional HMO” for non-mandatory HMO’s.
Mortgagee: If the property is subject to a mortgage/loan, the landlord is responsible for obtaining permission from their mortgage lender to let the property if required.
Leasehold Property: It is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that letting the property is permitted under the terms of the lease and in some instances a License to Sublet may be required for which a charge may be levied.
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