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30Aug


There are many, many different pieces of legislation that may relate to renting a property, a lot of which can be rather confusing when it comes to application. While there is a wealth of laws and guidance that can affect landlords, in today’s article we are going to focus on the key pieces of relevant legislation that affect landlords in the UK. Read on to find out more, or contact a member of our lettings team for information and guidance on 01793422833.

Health & Safety Legislation


Most of the legislation pertaining to renting a property is health and safety related and enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).


Gas Safety


Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations Act 1998


The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations Act 1998 refers to the safety of all gas supplies, installations and appliances within a property. Under this legislation, a landlord is responsible for:


  • Maintaining all gas appliances, pipework, flues, etc. Ensuring they meet the manufacturers’ safety recommendations and are checked on a regular basis.

  • Assessing all gas installations to ensure they have been maintained to meet safety standards.

  • Arranging annual tests and inspections by a registered engineer from the official Gas Safe register.

  • Keep accurate records of inspections for a minimum of two years. A copy of these records must be made available to tenants within 28 days of carrying out safety checks or for new tenants, prior to their moving in date.  


If these conditions are not met, your landlord’s insurance could become invalid. HSE is responsible for overseeing these regulations and places a high priority on their fulfilment. If you are found to be in violation, you can face a fine or even imprisonment.


Gas Safety (Installation and Use) (Amendment) Regulations 2018


The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 now allows landlords to have gas safety records completed a maximum of two months earlier than the required date, without facing any penalties, as had been the case previously.


Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015


The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 require that each property have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey. Additionally, there must be a carbon monoxide alarm installed in any room where there is a solid fuel burning appliance, e.g. a wood burning fire. At the beginning of each new tenancy, the landlord must make sure all alarms are in full working condition.


Electrical Safety


A landlord must ensure all electrical appliances and installations in the rental property are maintained to a safe standard throughout the length of the tenancy. This includes sockets and light fittings, appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators and any other electrical installation in the property.


Electrical appliances must have the CE (European standard) marking as a minimum requirement to show it conforms with European health, safety and environmental standards.


Each property should have an Electrical Safety Certificate, which can be issued by a certified electrician, as evidence that all electrical appliances and installations are in adequate working condition. As a landlord in the UK (excluding Scotland), you are not legally required to have one of these, however it is recommended.   


If your property is classed as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO - see section below), you are required to arrange an inspection every five years.


Failure to comply with these requirements can result in invalidated insurance, a hefty fine, criminal charges and imprisonment. The Housing and Planning Act 2016 is set to introduce new powers to authorities to set and enforce more stringent electrical standards on the private rented sector, with potential fines up to £30,000, so it is definitely worth ensuring all your electrical safety is up to code.


Fire Safety


Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005


The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 sets out the landlord’s legal obligations to ensure fire safety in rental properties.


Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (amend 1989, 1993)


The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended in 1989 and 1993), … that any fabrics covering furniture and furniture fillings must have passed a match resistance test. The regulations also require any upholstery and fillings to pass a cigarette resistance test.


Following the launch of the legislation, most furniture manufacturers made sure their products were already in compliance with the law. Therefore, most furniture bought after 1988, is likely to adhere to this legislation and will usually have a tag or label detailing this. Furniture and furnishings covered by the legislation includes armchairs, sofas, beds and any nursery furniture such as cribs. Items such as duvets, carpets, curtains or any antique furniture bought before 1950, is not included. If you are planning to let a furnished property, it is important to check any furniture complies with these requirements.


Housing Act 2004


The Housing Act 2004, sets out the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) requirements, giving local authorities leave to assess the condition of a property and any potential hazards. The government has put together some guidance for private landlords to help them understand their obligations under the HHSRS.


Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015


The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015 require landlords to ensure their properties have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of at least E, before their property is eligible to rent to new or existing tenants.


Health and Safety at Work Act 1974


Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, includes provision for landlords, requiring them to show a duty of care to their tenants when it comes to relevant health and safety legislation. Therefore, landlords should ensure tenants are not exposed to health and safety risks when renting out the property.


Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002

Landlords are also subject to certain requirements from the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002, which offer a list of actions landlords should take to control the risk from hazardous substances, including Legionella, which cases Legionnaires’ Disease. Landlords should carry out risk assessments and take steps to manage or eliminate the risk.

Landlord and Tenant Act 1985


Under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, landlords are required to keep the property being let in adequate repair and working condition (excluding damage caused by tenant negligence). Any repairs must be carried out within a reasonable time frame, or the tenant may have the right to withhold rent until repairs are completed.

Other Relevant Legislation

Houses in Multiple Occupation


We touched on the issue of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) in our last post. To summarise:


A house is deemed to meet the HMO status if…


  • More than three tenants live at the property, making up more than one household, and;

  • Facilities such as the kitchen, bathroom or toilet are shared with other tenants


If the property houses more than five people, sharing facilities and making up more than one household, in a building over two storeys high, it is classed as a ‘large HMO’ and will need to first be licensed by the relevant local authority.


The two primary pieces of legislation pertaining to HMOs are:


  • The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006

  • The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007


They require:


  • Full contact details for the landlord or manager of the HMO property to be displayed within the premises, with a copy given to each new tenant;


  • Fire safety measures to be taken, with fire escapes in full working order and completely clear from any obstructions;


  • Water and drainage to the property to be in full working order;


  • No arbitrary disconnection of gas or electricity supply to the property, without reason;


  • Electrical safety inspection of appliances and installations by a certified engineer every five years;


  • Gas and electrical safety inspection reports and certificates to be submitted to the local authority within seven days of any request;


  • Any common areas of the property to be kept in good condition, taking into consideration safety and decoration;


  • Ensuring that the inside of each property is clean and adequately decorated before tenants move in, and keeping it in good condition for the duration of the tenancy;

  • Suitable waste disposal facilities to be provided.  



General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)


The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) came into force in the UK in May 2018 and, contrary to what you might think, they do apply to private landlords. If you are found to be in violation of GDPR, you could be subject to a fine of up to four percent of your turnover (or up to 20 million euros).


If you hold information on your tenants you will need to register with the Information Commissioners Office. You will then need to provide a list of the type of information you hold (such as the personal details of your tenants) and where it is held. If your lettings agent holds the information, you must be sure that they are GDPR compliant in their data handling. You must have permission from your tenants to use their data for the purposes which you use it, so make sure any tenancy agreement includes appropriate data protection provisions or a privacy notice.


Immigration Act 2014


According to the Immigration Act 2014, under the new Right to Rent Scheme, landlords are responsible for verifying the immigration status of a potential tenant before letting to them. If they fail to do this, they can be subject to penalties of up to £3,000. The government website features guidance for landlords, including appropriate steps to take to comply with legislation.


Tenancy Deposit Protection

Landlords renting a property under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, are required to place tenants’ deposits in a tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme within 30 days of receiving the deposit.


Eviction


If you wish to evict your tenant, you must follow the regulations laid out in the Housing Act 1988. If you do not follow the correct procedures, you may be found guilty of harassing or illegally evicting the tenant/s.


If you are renting out your property on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, there are two types of notice required to evict a tenant who refuses to leave. A Section 21 eviction notice is required if you wish to take possession of the property after the fixed term tenancy ends. A Section 8 notice can be used for tenants who are in breach of the terms of the tenancy. A possession order may be sought if the tenant fails to leave after a Section 21 notice is issued.


For further information, read this handy guide from consumer charity Which on evicting a tenant.


For a full list of legislation that features further provisions relating to landlords, see this guide from the National Landlords Association.


A lot of this might seem a bit intimidating, but by working with an experienced, accredited lettings agent who can guide you through the relevant conditions that must be met, you can rest assured that you and your property will be adequately protected. Speak to one of our experienced lettings team for information and advice on letting your property in Swindon. Call today on 01793422833 or complete our online contact form. With Castles, we can guide you every step of the way.


Stay tuned for more in our series on letting a property. To read our guide on Starting out as a Landlord, visit our previous post.

30Aug


 

Ever wondered exactly what the responsibilities of a landlord entail? At Castles, we look at landlord responsibilities and aim to answer some common questions around what exactly a landlord needs to make sure they are doing when letting their property.

 

This is the third blog in our series on becoming a landlord. Previously we have discussed relevant legislation for landlords and starting out as a landlord. In today’s post we will be outlining the responsibilities of a landlord, including advice and tips to make letting a property in Swindon as easy as possible. If you are currently looking to let out your property, get in touch to speak to a member of our helpful lettings team. By letting with us, you can be assured your property is in safe hands. At Castles, we offer a wealth of knowledge and experience as well as access to more local people in Swindon who are actively looking to rent now. Contact us on 01793 422833 to learn more.

 

In our last post, we discussed a landlord’s legal obligations, covering relevant legislation that must be adhered to. Today, we will go into further detail on some of those obligations, as well as other responsibilities that arise when you let your property out to tenants.


Right to Rent

 

It is your legal responsibility as a landlord to check the immigration status of any person over the age of 18 living in the property you are renting out, for any tenancy agreement which started from 1st February 2016.

 

You will need to ask potential tenants for proof of their right to reside in the UK. For British and Irish citizens, a passport will be sufficient. For those who do not hold British citizenship, you will need to see any other official documents proving their immigration status. See this document from housing charity Shelter for a list of accepted documentation. You can also request a Home Office right to rent check if your potential tenant has a current case open with the Home Office. If the tenant has a time limit on their permission to stay in the UK, it is the landlord’s responsibility to undertake a follow up check at a later date.

 

Take copies of any documents you see and make sure you keep the copies safe. This obligation also applies to lodgers. As a landlord, you are allowed to charge potential tenants a fee for undertaking these checks and you also need permission to hold such documents on file.

 

If any adult living in the property does not have the right to reside in the UK, the landlord must take reasonable steps to evict them. This can mean allowing them to finish the remainder of their tenancy before evicting them or letting another adult in the property take over the tenancy if the person moves out. Advance notice should be given in any case.

 

Provide Information to Tenants at the Start of the Tenancy

 

At the start of any tenancy, the landlord is responsible for providing tenants with certain specified information. This includes an up to date Energy Performance Certificate, a gas safety certificate from a Gas Safe registered engineer check and a copy of the new government guide entitled How to Rent. This applies to all assured short hold tenancies that have been started or renewed since 1st October 2015 and prescribed information that relates to their deposit.

 

Tenancy Deposit Protection

 

The landlord is responsible for placing a tenant’s deposit in a UK government approved deposit protection scheme at the start of the tenancy (within the first 30 days of receiving it). If you receive an item instead of money, this does not need to be placed in a scheme. A tenant should be able to get their deposit back if they have met the terms of their rental agreement, have not damaged the property and have paid the rent and any bills. For properties in England, you can use the Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits or Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Find out more from the government website.

 

 

Housing Repairs

 

Any repairs needed on the exterior structure of a property being let is the landlord’s responsibility. This includes features such as the roof, walls and drains. Water, gas and electricity supply repairs are also the landlord’s responsibility, ensuring they are in safe working order. If the tenancy agreement states that the landlord is responsible for any white goods that are provided with the property, the landlord is also responsible for the repairs to these goods. The landlord cannot include any express terms in the rental agreement to pass off obligations onto the tenant when it comes to repairs. It is the tenants’ responsibility to inform the landlord of any repairs that are needed.

 

If the landlord needs to undertake repairs, they must give reasonable notice to the tenants that they are coming to the property. Unless the repairs are emergency repairs, the landlord should aim to come at a reasonable time.

 

 

Health and Safety

 

It is vital to ensure the landlord safety obligations are met to ensure tenants will be safe in the property and to avoid liability which can result in criminal prosecution should obligations not be met.

 

      Every 12 months a gas safety check must be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

      Any furniture that is providing must meet safety standards such as fire regulations.

      A smoke alarm must be installed on every floor of the property.

      A carbon monoxide detector must be installed in any room in the property with a wood burning or coal fire/stove or gas boiler.

 

The landlord is responsible for keeping the property free from any hazards which could affect tenants’ health and safety. This includes damp, mould, vermin and any other pests.

 
Fit for Purpose
 

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 dictates the landlord’s responsibility for ensuring their property is ‘fit for purpose’. This means the property should be in good repair and structurally sound (see Repairs above), with natural lighting and proper ventilation. The property must be free from damp, with adequate drainage and sanitary facilities and sufficient insulation and energy performance. There must be food preparation and cooking facilities, waste water disposal, hygiene facilities and a supply of water and electricity.

 
Rent Payments

 

At the start of a tenancy, the landlord is responsible for setting out and informing the tenant when and how rent is to be paid, whether weekly, monthly or in other installments. A landlord cannot refuse to accept rent from a tenant.

 

Rent Increases

 

If a private landlord wishes to increase the rent for their property, this can only be done if the tenant agrees. According to Shelter, paying a rent increase is classed as agreeing. If you present a new tenancy agreement, the tenant is required to pay the amount in the agreement. A landlord cannot raise the rent amount in the duration of a fixed term tenancy. The exception to this is if there is a clause in the tenancy agreement that allows for rent increases during the fixed term. Once every 12 months, a section 13 notice can be issued by a landlord to increase the rent if there is no rent review clause in the tenancy agreement. The tenant does have the right to challenge an increase under this section. This guide from Shelter offers more insight into rent increases.

 

Enjoyment of the Property

 

The landlord should not interfere with the tenants’ right to enjoy the property. This means no unnecessary interference, giving reasonable advance notice and asking permission before entering the property and not harassing the tenants.

 

Discrimination

 

A landlord cannot discriminate against a tenant or potential tenant, either directly or indirectly, because of disability, gender, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation, according to the Equality Act 2010.

 

Eviction

 

If a landlord wishes to evict a tenant, they must follow the correct legal procedures and eviction process. If a landlord tries to evict a tenant without following these procedures, they could be prosecuted.

 

When evicting a tenant, you must follow either one of both of two different procedures, both of which start with the issue of an eviction notice.

 

A section 21 notice can be issued without giving a reason to end the tenancy. The tenant will have at least two months’ notice from the date of issue. A section 21 notice cannot be issued before the tenancy has lasted at least four months.

 

A section 8 notice can be issued during a tenancy if there is a legal reason for ending the tenancy. Reasons such as non-payment of rent or a breach of the tenancy agreement can be classed as sufficient to evict under this section.

 

A landlord cannot force their tenant to leave. If a tenant will not leave, the landlord must go to court to legally evict them. Find out more about eviction from housing charity Shelter, or from one of our helpful lettings advisors on 01793 422833.

 

Tenants are now protected from ‘revenge’ evictions for assured shorthold tenancies that began or were renewed after 1st October 2015. A revenge eviction is where the landlord tries to evict the tenant after they complain about the condition of the property or any repairs. If the landlord tries to evict a tenant after they complain, they will need to be able to prove there is a legal reason to evict.

 

For more information about being a landlord, see our landlord guide.

 

Castles Estate Agents have supported landlords in letting property in Swindon for many years, offering expert advice and guidance. We will help you navigate the requirements and responsibilities that come with being a landlord. Check back on our blog for more advice for landlords, or get in touch for a more tailored, bespoke service on 01793 422833.

18Jul

Swindon property leader continues to build with two star summer signings

Castles Residential Sales & Lettings, the premier independent Swindon estate agent for both sales and lettings, has announced the bolstering of its team with several new additions.

Carol Wiggins joins in the administrative role for lettings and Matthew Wyeth takes up a new position of lettings consultant. We also look forward to welcoming lettings consultant, Tamzen Rowley, who will be joining the lettings team in July 2018.

The sales team at Castles has also enjoyed some recent new additions with Lauren Peters, Mark Woolhouse and Tom Anderson, all joining as sales consultants. They are pleased to have welcomed Maria Martinez de Toffoletti, sales administrator, who will support the expanding sales team.

The appointments represent another period of growth for Castles, which has won a host of awards in recent years such as the The Relocation Agent Network’s Best Agent, the Wiltshire Small Business of the Year award, and two allAgents Awards. 

Carol is excited to get started in her new position, in which she will offer the Castles Lettings department the benefit of her 30 years' experience in administration. Having recently moved to Swindon with her family, Carol has embraced the new challenge and is already having fun working with the tight knit team, saying "there’s never a dull moment!"

Matthew is also new to Swindon and the Lettings business but at Castles he has already enjoyed huge success and has embraced the team ethic which Castles is known for, as well as the unwavering commitment to offering both landlords and tenants the best possible service. He said: "I get up each day with a spring in my step."

It was recently announced that Castles Residential Sales & Lettings had their best ever month in May 2018 for lettings, and the two new appointments will enable this growth plan to develop further. 

In addition to their unmatched reputation in the Swindon area, Castles are ranked 79th out of 15,000 estate agents in the whole of the UK. Castles are also the preferred estate agent of Cartus, the premier relocation services provider.

Mark Noble, managing director Castles Residential Sales & Lettings, said: "We would like to extend a warm Castles welcome to the new members of the team. During this period of rapid growth, they will provide a timely expansion of our offering, giving us more opportunity to continue delivering an unparalleled service to landlords and tenants alike in the Swindon area. It is an exciting time for the company, and these new appointments underline our determination to retain our position as a leading independent estate agent in Swindon."


04Jul

Swindon-based estate agents Castles Residential Sales & Lettings recently experienced its most successful month ever in terms of new lets agreed in May 2018. June 2018 will eclipse this result further and this is thanks to its exemplary history of helping tenants and landlords with the lettings process.


The organisation’s May 2018 results were almost double those of May 2017, a testament to the dedication and knowledge of Castles’ staff and evidence of the benefits of renting through a traditional local agency. 

Houses are in demand right now, and rental homes are often snapped up within days. However, renting privately can be risky for tenants, who are often vulnerable to their landlord’s every whim and demand. As reported in The Independent last year, a shocking third of privately rented homes fail basic health and safety standards, proof that many landlords are not even completing their most rudimentary duties.

Acquiring a rental home through an agency is one of the best ways to avoid being exploited in this way, as it involves signing a fair and binding contract. 

Alexandra Moise, who recently secured a new rental home through Castles Residential Sales & Lettings, said: “The organisation makes every effort to help renters like me. Looking for a new home can be stressful, so when we started our search we contacted many other letting agencies, none of which rivalled the level of professionalism of Castles.

“When we first met Matt (one of the company’s lettings agents), he went out of his way to meet as many of our needs and requirements as possible. He always called us back to set up more appointments, was always on time for viewings, and his behaviour was thoroughly professional and kind. Overall, the Castles experience has been amazing in helping us through the difficult process of finding a home.” 

As Alexandra’s experience shows, enlisting an agency can take much of the stress out of finding rental properties. This is particularly true when tenants are given short notice by their landlord that they need to move out. Deposits, fees and tenancy agreements can also be worrisome, and enlisting an agency can make these tricky processes much more straightforward, with companies such as Castles able to negotiate on tenants’ behalf.

Mark Noble, managing director of Castles Residential Sales and Lettings, said: “At Castles, we understand how stressful it can be when letting and finding a property, and we are here to help tenants and landlords every step of the way. Here’s to another successful year.”

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