As a landlord there are a number of legal obligations you must abide by. Failure to do so could result in prosecution. Depending on the type of property these regulations vary.
Here at The Islington Company, we believe it’s our duty to provide Landlords with as much information as possible regarding their rights and responsibilities, so we’ve put together this list of some of the things Landlords need to be aware of when letting a property.
Please Note: The regulations listed below pertain to private residential properties and therefore may not necessarily apply to mixed use premises such as houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).
The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 state that the electrical installation in the house must be completely safe and every electrical appliance supplied by the landlord must be safe to use.
There is no mandatory requirement for the equipment to undergo any safety testing, however it’s recommended that every landlord checks that all electrical appliances supplied for the property meet the following guidelines before the start of a tenancy and regularly thereafter:
- Any plug, socket or adapter supplied for intended domestic use must comply with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994
- Electrical leads should not be worn or frayed and be complete with no joins
- Trailing leads and the use of multiple plug adaptors should be avoided
- Plug sockets should be firmly fastened to the wall or skirting
- Correct plugs (marked ‘B SECTION 136’) should be fitted and correctly fused
- Live parts should not be accessible
- Any moving parts should be guarded
- Fireguards should meet BS3248
- Any fire extinguishers should be marked ‘BS6575 1985’.
- Microwave doors should be clean, free from corrosion and effective
- Washing machines, cookers, etc. should be in good working order and serviced regularly
- Electrical heaters and central heating appliances should be serviced annually
- Electric blankets should be serviced according to the manufacturer’s instructions
Since the new Gas Safety Regulations were introduced 1998, all Landlords of residential property have a statutory duty to ensure that all gas appliances, flues and pipe work are maintained and kept in a safe condition. A Gas Safe Registered Engineer must annually inspect all gas appliances provided by the landlord within the property. A warranted Gas Safety Certificate will be issued for proof of inspection for both tenant and landlord.
Under the Housing Act 2004, and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 Landlords are under a common law duty to ensure that the property they provide is safe. Although there is no legal requirement to provide fire extinguishers or fire blankets in single occupation tenanted properties, it is highly recommended especially in the kitchen area. The landlord must arrange for regular servicing of the fire extinguishers on a 12 monthly basis.
Similarly, there is currently no legal requirement for landlords to provide fire/smoke alarms in single occupation tenanted properties. However, it is strongly advised as neglecting the installation of smoke alarms could mean the Landlord has failed to ensure that the property is safe - which is their duty under common law.
Please Note: Smoke alarms ARE required for houses of multiple occupation (HMO). All HMO properties built after June 1992 must have a mains operated inter-connected smoke alarms fitted on every level of the property. Older properties do not have to comply; however, it is advised for landlords to provide at least battery operated smoke alarms in the property.
Under The Furniture and Furnishings Regulation 1988 all furniture a landlord provides must be fire resistant and meet fire safety standards. The following furniture, supplied by the landlord, in let properties fall under this requirement:
- Beds, headboards of beds, mattresses, sofas, sofa-beds, futons and other convertibles
- Nursery furniture, garden furniture which is suitable for use in a dwelling.
- Bean bags, scatter cushions, window seats and seat pads, padded chests, padded stools.
- Put-u-up beds and pillows, garden loungers/seats, loose and stretch covers for furniture.
Most furniture manufactured since March 1989 will comply with these regulations and will be marked with a label showing compliance.
Non-compliance with the above regulations is a criminal offence and carries penalties of a £5,000 fine, 6 month’s imprisonment, or both. In the event of a death, charges could extend to manslaughter.
It is worth noting that the regulations do not apply to: sleeping bags bed-clothes, duvets and pillowcases, curtains and carpets loose covers for mattresses.
Repairs & Maintenance
Under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 the landlord is responsible for the structure and exterior of the property, baths, sinks and other sanitary items, heating and hot water installations. However, if the tenant has a fixed tenancy contract for over 7 years these issues become the tenant’s responsibility.
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 require landlords:
- Keep installations for the supply of gas, water, electricity and sanitation in good repair and proper working order.
- Keep installations for space heating and water heating in good repair and proper working order
- Keep the structure and exterior of the property in good repair including; gutters, drains and external pipes.
Tenancy Deposit Protection
In England and Wales, if you let your home on an assured shorthold tenancy that started after 6 April 2007 all landlords must secure their tenants deposits into one of three government approved Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) schemes within 30 days of receiving it;
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
All Landlords must provide all new and prospective tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate.
The certificate will show the energy efficiency levels of a property by giving each building a SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure) rating, which will equate to an energy rating from A to G.
Consent To Let A Property
Before letting a property all landlords must obtain consent and/or inform the following:
- The mortgage lender
- Any housing association or other body which has regulations applying to the property, e.g. shared ownership
- Any adult who has been living in the property with the landlord as husband, wife or partner who has occupancy rights
- In respect of leasehold properties; the head landlord.
In addition, the landlord will need to contact their insurance company who must confirm that cover will be maintained if the property is let.
Taxation of Income from Land
Any landlord who for taxation purposes is considered non-resident is liable to pay tax on their rental income from letting property.
It’s best to check with the Inland Revenue how much tax you’re liable to pay, or if you’re permitted to be exempted from tax as the level of tax varies greatly depending on your circumstances.
You can read the full ‘Taxation of Income from Land (Non-Residents) Regulations 1995 regulations’ HERE
Please Note: While we have made every effort to include the main Landlord legal responsibilities, obligations & regulations the above should not be taken as gospel. If you decide to let your property, be sure to seek independent expert legal advice.
The BBC’s Watchdog program recently turned its attention to private lettings. The program shed light on the various unsavory practices of some of the UK’s lettings agents. One of these practices is when agents create letting contracts which insist the tenants use certain utility companies. In return for the additional business, the utility companies are offering the agents a handsome reward.
It has been reported that one in ten tenants are being illegally stopped by their landlords or agents from switching utility suppliers.
In typical Watchdog style no one was safe from the investigation. Some well-known agency names, including large chains were among those implicated by the programme.
So what are the Rules?
At present aside from the Ombudsman there are no official regulators of lettings agencies, which means that Tenants and landlords are largely being left to fend for themselves.
Here at the Islington Company, we pride ourselves on being transparent. That’s why we will never add a ‘preferred supplier’ clause to any of our Tenancy agreements. Also part of this transparency is our belief that it’s our duty to provide Tenants and Landlords with as much information as possible regarding their rights.
So we did a little digging of our own and here’s what we found out:
The Energy regulator Ofgem says:
“Tenants should be made aware by landlords and letting agents of any tie-ins with specific suppliers and should receive appropriate details at the outset of applicable tariffs and charging details.”
“If the tenant is directly responsible for paying the gas and/or electricity bills, they have the right to choose their own energy supplier, and the landlord or letting agent should not unreasonably prevent this”
“Landlords or letting agents should not sign up tenants with preferred suppliers without the tenants’ full knowledge of, or agreement to, such arrangements.”
We also contacted Trading Standards, who said:
“The Tenant should have the choice of supplier, although they may be required to keep the landlord informed of any change and to return the account to the original supplier at the end of the tenancy.”
So there you have it. Despite what some agencies would have you believe, if you are directly responsible for paying the bills, you have the right to choose whom you pay.
We all know the old Adage “A dog is man’s best friend” well now, thanks to Endsleigh Insurance and the Dogs Trust; the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, letting your home to tenants and their furry friends just got a whole lot easier!
According to an article posted on Landlord Today a new specialist insurance policy is being launched this month that will give piece of mind to landlords and hope to pet owners struggling to find private rented accommodation that will accept their four legged accomplices.
The insurance policy will be available to individual landlords and will cover accidental pet damage as standard, as well as 120 days occupancy, £2m property owners’ liability, theft by tenants, malicious damage by tenants, and landlord’s contents.
A recent survey revealed 88% of landlords would rent to pet owners if there was an insurance product available covering pet damage.
The ‘Specialist Landlords Insurance – In Partnership with Lets with Pets’ was created as a response this demand, and caters to landlords who need specialist buildings and contents insurance to cover rental properties where tenants have pets.
Dogs Trust Lets with Pets manager, Clare Kivlehan, said: “Over three-quarters of pet owners experience difficulties finding privately rented accommodation that allow pets, so we are delighted to be teaming up with Endsleigh to offer landlords this specialist cover.”
To find out more about lets-with-pets insurance visit Endsleigh website here
Our advice at TIC is to ask for a specific pet reference before taking a measured risk. If you are letting a property to professional tenants you are also entitled to enquire if they will be hiring a dog walker. A positive to consideration is also that tenants with pets on average stay longer, which also helps to account for any additional wear and tear.
Property owners often look at various means to improve the interior of their property. In some cases it is done in an effort to make the property more desirable prior to placing it on the market in others, simply in order to make their home nicer to reside in. While there are plenty of home improvement projects that can make a real difference, few can have such an overwhelming effect as new flooring does.
Flooring and Noise
Back in 2003, the government introduced a number of laws to help minimise noise in properties. Called ‘The Building Regulations Approved Document E of 2003’ it included various forms of noise which are the target of noise reduction enforcement, including footsteps noise pollution. Property owners can comply with these laws by fitting an acoustic underlay with sound isolation (measured in dB) which makes the floor not only quitter, but nicer to walk on. Naturally, these laws are more relevant in the case of properties located in apartment buildings than detached or semi-detached properties. Only structures built after the law came into affect in 2003 must comply by law, however for the sake of your downstairs neighbours, an underlay is a sensible choice to fit.
Nowadays, you are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to potential flooring material. Of these choices, the most complicated to choose is hardwood flooring, which is also the one most likely to make your property more desirable. If you are looking to fit wood, you need to come to terms with the two variations of wood flooring. In some cases only one variation should be fitted, as you will quickly find out why.
Solid Hardwood – The most common choice and often regarded by homeowners as the only choice is the solid type. Its core is made from 100% natural hardwood making it extremely durable with a feasible service life of 100 years.
Engineered Hardwood – It looks the same as solid, it only differs by including artificial materials on top of natural hardwood. Engineered floorboards are made from various layers that are glued together to make one rigid board. The top layer called the ‘wear layer’ is made from hardwood in thickness levels of 3mm to 6mm thick, while three to four layers of synthetic materials are placed below the wear later to make up its core.
Which One For Your Home
Because the two choices look the same when fitted, you can safely assume that they will react differently in different environments. Solid hardwood reacts to changes in climate by expanding when humid and warm conditions are present, while it will contract in the face of contrasting conditions. This reaction makes solid hardwood unfitting over under floor heating and in rooms such as the kitchen and bathroom areas. If you are looking to fit hardwood in such circumstances only engineered hardwood will prove fitting.
In properties where humid climate and under floor hearing are of little or no significance, solid hardwood is a better choice due to its longer service life. In some cases, you might find that engineered hardwood is more affordable and then you will likely be led by pricing in mind.
Enjoy your new flooring.
Article by Jonathan Sapir
Jonathan is the MD at Wood and Beyond London based timber supplier working with residential and commercial property owners.
OK, we are prepared to admit that letting agents are on occasions a dubious lot. Many landlords feel that they don’t get value for their money. With online agencies sparling all over the web, is there a need for the traditional high street agencies?
An online agency will enable you as a landlord to place your listing in direct competition with properties being advertised by other agents. What impression is it making? How does your iPhone camera compare to that of a professional photographer? At an additional cost this of course can be arranged too. Once you get going you probably would have spent on average £200 for your chance to compete.
So you have received your first enquiries. Are you able to call applicants back quickly? Are you available for viewings during the day or in the evenings? If you are then there is not valid reason to pay someone else to stand in cold & damp in the dark, for most part of the year in the UK, waiting for your prospective tenants to turn up.
Finally they have arrived, looked around, thanked you kindly and walked off. What happens next? Potentially not much as people will not want to offend you by criticising your property in your face so you will often be left disappointed with no feedback to work with. Believe it or not, tenants don’t like agents either so they tend to be a lot more upfront. Furthermore, a good agent will be trained to extract this highly valuable feedback.
Unless you are prepared to give away your property at pittance to the first person that arrives, letting a property can take 3-4 weeks. Finally, you scored lucky. What happens next? Most likely the your prospective tenants will negotiate even harder than they would with a letting agent. Without an agent in the middle it will be more difficult to say ‘no’. Plus you might feel that if you negotiate too tough you might ruin a prospective relationship with your future tenant.
Drafting a tenancy agreement and referencing the tenant is not too complicated, but mistakes can be costly. Are you up to date on current legislation, for example, regarding deposit protection? You should be.
If you are still prepared to brave it on your own then you deserve a firm handshake and honest ‘good luck’ for your ‘can-do’ attitude. If any point though you do find yourself in need of assistance The Islington Company will be here ready to help. Let's get letting!