Safe & Legal
Updated: Jul 21, 2020
Did you know that there are over 150 different forms of legislation that UK landlords need to comply with. We don't expect you to know them all - that is why Cribs Residential Lettings Ltd are here to ensure you remain safe & legal at all times.
The following are just a small handful of legal considerations to get you thinking !
Action - How energy efficient is your home?
It is a legal requirement to provide an EPC certificate in the lettings process and to have this displayed when a property is advertised for rent.
An EPC will show what improvements can be made to save money spent on keeping your home warm and help reduce climate change.
PLEASE NOTE THAT IT WILL BE A LEGAL REQUIREMENT THAT ALL PRIVATELY RENTED PROPERTIES HAVE AN EPC RATING OF AT LEAST 'E'. THIS IS PART OF THE MINIMUM ENERGY EFFICIENCY STANDARD (MEES) .
NEW SECTION 21 REGULATIONS ALSO STIPULATE THAT LANDLORDS MUST PROVIDE TENANTS WITH AN EPC CERTIFICATE AT THE START OF A NEW TENANCY FROM OCTOBER 2015 IN ORDER TO SERVE A 'NO FAULT' EVICTION NOTICE.
Action - Insulate and draught proof to avoid condensation
insulate the loft
draught proof windows and external doors
consider cavity insulation
consider double glazing
Double glazing is not as cost effective in terms of recouping your investment as quickly through energy savings alone when compared to other measures such as draught proofing and insulation. However it is an attractive feature when letting a property and does increase the energy efficiency of your property.
Action - effectively ventilate the home
Provide suitable low level background ventilation to the property without excessive heat loss or draughts.
Ensure that your tenants understand how to use fans and open the windows.
Ensure that existing air vents are not blocked, or decorated over, and that trickle vents on windows and doors work correctly.
install ventilation in kitchens and bathrooms
sufficient ventilation in cupboards and wardrobes
Explain to your tenant that the cost of running the extractor is lower than they might think. It is often assumed that extractor fans are expensive to run but effective ventilation will reduce the risk of other health hazards caused by damp and mould.
Action - fire
We recommend that RLA members follow the fire safety guidance issued by LACORS (Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services) for domestic housing.
From 01st October 2015 the law will require landlords to install smoke alarms on every floor of their property, and test them at the start of every tenancy. Mains powered alarms are preferred as the failure rate is much lower than a battery powered alarm. The Government has announced funding for free smoke and carbon monoxide alarms from fire and rescue authorities to give to private sector landlords whose properties currently do not have alarms.
We would also advise that you:
Provide a fire blanket in the kitchen to allow an occupier to tackle a fire if is safe to do so.
Ensure there is a protected and safe means of escape from the property, and that the occupiers can escape from the building without the use of a key.
Escape windows can provide a second, emergency escape from the first floor.
Ensure that the area immediately adjacent the cooker is free from flammable materials such as curtains around a window, or wall units.
Ensure that fitted appliances and equipment that present possible source of ignition should be correctly installed and maintained
ACTION - Electrical Safety
If you are renting out a property in England, any tenancy you create or renew on or after July 1st 2020 will require an electrical inspection and a report on the condition of the property (EICR) performed by a qualified person. Renewals in this case include statutory periodic tenancies that are created at the end of a fixed term on or after this date.
For pre-existing tenancies, you will need to have an EICR performed on all existing tenancies before April 1st 2021.
Action - Is your property 'Gas Safe'?
From 01st October 2015 regulations require smoke alarms to be installed in rented residential accommodation and carbon monoxide alarms in rooms with a solid fuel appliance. Changes are also made to the licence requirements in relation to houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), such as shared houses and bedsits which require a licence and also in relation to properties which are subject to selective licensing. The Regulations apply both to houses and flats. These provisions only apply in England; not Wales.
This applies to any kind of wood burning stove or an open coal fire. It will also extend to equipment such as a solid fuel AGA in the kitchen. This is already a requirement with new installations of solid fuel burning combustion appliances as under Building Regulations there is a requirement to install a carbon monoxide alarm. This is now extended to any existing appliances already in place before Building Regulations imposed this requirement or where building regulations are not observed.
Landlords must ensure that there is a carbon monoxide alarm fitted in any room that is used partly or wholly as living accommodation which also contains any appliance which burns, or is capable of burning, solid fuel. This would include log and coal burning stoves and open fires, even if they are not normally in use, but does not include gas and oil boilers. If an open fireplace is purely decorative and not useable then it is not covered by the regulations. Gas is not a solid fuel and so there is no requirement to fit one near a gas boiler. It is still advisable as best practice however.
Those who fail to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms would face sanctions and could face up to a £5,000 civil penalty.
Landlords must get a yearly Gas safety certificate - Ensure fixed heating appliances and systems, whether central heating or not, should be properly designed, installed and regularly serviced.
Under new Section 21 rules from 01st October 2015 Landlords signing new tenancies must provide their tenants with an up to date Gas Safety Certificate, if this is not issued then you will not be eligible to serve a ‘No Fault’ Section 21 eviction notice under the regulations. When a certificate is obtained during the course of a tenancy (for example if the tenancy runs past a year) a copy of this must also be given to the tenant. Normally, in practice the gas engineer who carries put the check will do this. However, if you take your tenant to Court under Section 21 you may have to prove that this has been done.
ACTION -Landlords of residential accommodation have responsibilities for combating Legionnaires' disease.
Health and safety legislation requires that landlords carry out risk assessments for the Legionella bacteria which cause Legionnaires' disease and thereafter maintain control measures to minimise the risk.
Most rented premises will be low risk but it is important that risk assessments are carried out and control measures introduced.
Legionella bacteria are found in the natural environment and may contaminate and grow in water systems, including domestic hot and cold water systems. They survive low temperatures and thrive at temperatures between 20 - 45°C if the conditions are right. They are killed by high temperatures at 60°C or above.
Landlords are under a duty to ensure that the risk of exposure to tenants, residents and visitors by Legionella is properly assessed and controlled.
Normally there is no reason why the landlord should not carry out this risk assessment himself/herself so long as they are competent. Usually there will be no need to employ a consultant. The assessment should be a straight forward simple exercise in ordinary domestic premises.
Checklist of documents
Changes to Section 21 notices
A new Section 21 form has been released by the Government. New regulations will require landlords to provide tenants with EPC certificates, Gas Safety Certificates, and a DCLG Booklet on “How to rent” to be eligible to serve a ‘No Fault’ Section 21 eviction notice.
The new form is used for all tenancies, but the requirement to provide the above documents applies only to tenancies created on or after October 1st 2015.
The notice cannot be served until 4 months after the tenancy starts and cannot be used 6 months after it has been served at which point a fresh one would need serving. The notice cannot be served for 6 months after a local authority has served an improvement notice or carried out emergency remedial action
The regulations also stipulate :
Compliance with prescribed legal requirements: this gives landlords the legal responsibility to provide the tenant(s) with a relevant Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and gas safety certificates.
PLEASE NOTE - If a landlord does not provide this information tenants are not responsible for complying with a Section 21 notice.