Q : Are there legal regulations that I must comply with?
Yes there is numerous legislation involved in letting properties and we will advise you accordingly and work with you to ensure full compliance.
Fire and Furnishings Regulations (Fire, Safety, Amendment) Regulations 1993
These regulations came into force on 1 January 1997. From this date, all properties that we have available for rental must have furniture complying with the fire regulations. The Consumer Protection Act 1987 Section 12 (1) and the 1988 regulations make it an offence to ‘supply’ any furniture to a property unless the furniture meets what is generally known as ‘the cigarette test’, ‘match test’ and ‘the ignitability test’. What this means to you as the landlord is the following: If you have supplied any upholstered furniture or beds to your rented property that do not comply with the regulations you could have broken the law. We reserve the right to remove any furniture from the premises that does not comply with the above regulations and charge any reasonable expenses incurred.
Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1994 and 1996
As from 1 April 1998 all gas engineers must be ACOPS (Approved Code of Practice ‘Standards of Training in Gas Safety Legislation’) qualified as well as Gas Safe registered. Gas engineers must meet certain criteria for each type of gas operation carried out. The ACOPS certificates are broken down into different elements depending on the type of work carried out. It will be the responsibility of the landlord to check that all the gas engineers used have the relevant ACOPS certificate. Failure to do so may result in both civil action being taken against the landlord and a criminal offence being committed. The above regulations state the landlord must ensure that all his gas appliances are checked annually to ensure that they are safe. The regulations came into force in October 1994 and must be enforced by Gas Safe registered installer. You must obtain proof from the Gas Safe registered engineer that all appliances are safe. You must keep a record of when each gas appliance was checked and from 31 October 1996 a copy of the safety certificate must be given to the tenant. We will require a copy of this certificate prior to the tenancy commencing. We reserve the right to appoint a Gas Safe registered installer to carry out an annual safety check or take remedial action to make safe a faulty appliance and charge any reasonable expenses incurred if it is brought to our attention that you have failed to take appropriate action.
Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994
The above regulations came into force on 9 January 1995. Your property and all electrical appliances supplied must be safe and have properly fused plugs with the correct fuse fitted. In order to comply with the regulations it is essential that your property and all electrical appliances provided by yourself are tested by a qualified electrical engineer and a certificate of safety and compliance is provided prior to the start of the tenancy. It is your legal obligation to ensure ‘duty of care’ that the electrical appliances and the property are safe and comply with current regulations.
Energy Performance Regulations 2008
From the 1st October 2008 your property will require an Energy Performance rating and an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), this must be produced by a Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA) officer. Energy performance Certificates for rental purposes will be valid for 10 years, this applies for both existing and new build properties. A new certificate is not needed on renewal of a tenancy agreement.
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015
Since 1st October 2015 landlords are required to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their properties and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire, wood burning stove). After that, the landlord must make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.
The requirements will be enforced by local authorities who can impose a fine of up to £5,000 where a landlord fails to comply with a remedial notice
Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia caused by the inhalation of small droplets of contaminated water containing Legionella. All man-made hot and cold water systems are likely to provide an environment where Legionella can grow. Where conditions are favourable (ie suitable growth temperature range; water droplets (aerosols) produced and dispersed; water stored and/or recirculated; some ‘food’ for the organism to grow such as rust, sludge, scale, biofilm etc) then the bacteria may multiply thus increasing the risk of exposure.
The law is clear that if you are a landlord and rent out your property (or even a room within your own home) then you have legal responsibilities to ensure the health and safety of your tenant by keeping the property safe and free from health hazards, including making a risk assessment for Legionella.
Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
On 6th April 2006 The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) introduced a new risk assessment system. This affects all owners and landlords, including social landlords. It focuses on identifying and tackling the hazards that are most likely to be present in housing to make homes healthier and safer to live in.
The system can deal with 29 hazards relating to:
Dampness, excess cold/heat
Pollutants e.g. asbestos, carbon monoxide, lead
Lack of space, security or lighting, or excessive noise
Poor hygiene, sanitation, water supply
Accidents – falls, electric shocks, fires, burns, scalds
Collisions, explosions, structural collapse
Each hazard is assessed separately, and if judged to be ‘serious’, with a ‘high score’, is deemed to be a category 1 hazard. All other hazards are called category 2 hazards.
A risk assessment looks at the likelihood of an incident arising from the condition of the property and the likely harmful outcome. If a local authority discovers category 1 hazards in a home, it has a duty to take the most appropriate action.
Q : Can I trust you?
We have over 20 years experience in the lettings industry. We are members of the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA), an accredited member of The National Landlords Association (NLA) and Milton Keynes Private Landlords Association (MKPLA). We are registered with the Property Redress Scheme (PRS), a government authorised consumer redress scheme for Property Agents and Professionals, MyDeposits, a government authorised tenancy deposit protection scheme and the Information Commissioners Office for Data Protection.
Most importantly all client funds are held in a separate bank account and covered by Client Money Protection Insurance and we have Professional Indemnity Insurance as well as being an accredited Safe Agent Member.
Q : Do I need to still pay buildings or contents insurance?
Yes, it’s important that you have landlords insurance covering the building and your internal fixtures and fittings (i.e. fitted kitchen, white goods, carpets, curtains, etc). There are specialist insurance companies who can provide this and we are happy to put you in touch with our insurers to arrange this, if required.
The tenant is responsible for insuring their own personal effects and furniture.
Q : Do I need to tell my mortgage provider?
Yes, you must obtain written consent from your mortgage provider and freeholder (if property is leasehold) and we will require evidence of this.
You should also inform your insurance company that the property is to be rented and appropriate insurance obtained for a tenanted property. There are specialist insurance companies who can provide this and we are happy to assist you, if required.
You will also need to inform the Inland Revenue within six months of letting your property, flat or apartment in the UK. Failure to do so may mean you could incur penalties, interest and other consequences. The Inland Revenue have been known to deal harshly with landlords who do not declare rental income and it is always best to seek advice on tax planning and capital gains tax from a fully qualified accountant
Q : Do you accept pets?
We are a nation of pet lovers. Latest research suggests that 47% of households in the UK own a pet, so there is a sound business case for accepting pets to open up your potential tenant market considerably.
Unfortunately, some pets can cause a lot of expensive damage. Cats can claw furniture and decoration and dogs can scratch and chew doors and walls. Also, pet odours can become embedded into carpets and soft furnishings, making it difficult, or perhaps even impossible to remove the odour. Irresponsible pet owners don’t always clean up after their pets and sometimes gardens can become full of animal waste.
If a landlord is prepared to consider pets we follow the Dogs Trust guidance on Lets with Pets www.letswithpets.org.uk.
If accepted, tenants are required to pay a non-refundable £300 Pet Cleaning Supplement to the landlord at the start of their tenancy, to cover any additional cost of pet hair removal, anti-bacterial, anti-mite and anti-odour treatment of carpets, curtains and soft furnishings, as well as two months’ rent as security deposit. Pet owners are also contractually obliged to have – and maintain throughout their tenancy – tenant’s contents insurance that covers accidental damage by their pet. Don’t worry though, we can arrange the appropriate insurance cover for tenants through our insurance partners.
We also recommend that pet owners offer to pay a slightly higher rent to incentivise the landlord to accept their request to keep a pet.