The following requirements are a brief guide highlighting the responsibilities of the owner/landlord of the property to ensure compliance with legislation
Landlords renting properties in England and create or renew tenancies 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, the landlord will need to have an EICR performed on all existing tenancies before April 1st, 2021. If the landlord has rented to a lodger or the property has been let out on a long lease (7 years or more), there is not a requirement to have an EICR performed.
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 set out several different requirements around providing copies of the EICR to relevant people:
A copy of the EICR must be given to all the tenants before they occupy the property. If a new inspection is carried out to update the EICR, the landlord must provide them with a copy of the new report within 28 days of the inspection.
If a tenant requests a copy of the EICR in writing, the landlord must also provide them with one within 28 days. If the local authority requests the EICR, the landlord must provide them with a copy of it within seven days or face potential penalties. Any prospective tenants who request a copy in writing must be provided one within 28 days.
The standard EICR lasts 5 years but this can be shorter, so landlords should replace it as often as needed to ensure it remains valid.
There are several important pieces of legislation which impact on fire safety within dwellings, some affect all dwellings irrespective of the layout or how it is occupied. Some legislation only applies to dwellings which are occupied by tenants who are unrelated or only applies to certain parts of the building.
In the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster, fire safety has been a serious concern for tenants and landlords alike. For landlords, there is a bewildering array of different overlapping legislation to worry about when looking to improve a property for their tenants and this can be very confusing.
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989 & 1993) provide that specified items supplied in the course of letting property must meet minimum fire resistance standards. The regulations apply to all upholstered furniture, beds, headboards and mattresses, sofa-beds, futons and other convertibles, nursery furniture, garden furniture suitable for use in a dwelling, scatter cushions, pillows and non-original covers for furniture. They do not apply to antique furniture or furniture made before 1950, and certain other items. Non-compliant items must be removed before a tenancy commences. In essence a landlord must:
- Follow safety regulations
- provide a smoke alarm on each storey and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance (for example a coal fire or wood burning stove). All properties built since June 1992 must have been fitted with mains powered smoke detector alarms from new. Although there is no legislation requiring smoke alarms to be fitted in other ordinary tenanted properties (except HMO’s), it is generally considered that the common law ’duty of care’ means that Landlords and their Agents could be liable should a fire cause injury or damage in a tenanted property where smoke alarms are not fitted. We therefore strongly recommend that the Landlord fit at least one alarm on each floor (in the hall and landing areas).
- check escape routes are always accessible
- make sure the furniture and furnishings they supply are fire safe
- provide fire alarms and extinguishers if the property is a large house in multiple occupation (HMO)
If the property is on 3 or more levels and let to 5 or more tenants comprising 2 or more households (i.e. not all the same family) it will be subject to mandatory licensing by your local authority. Whether mandatory licensing as above applies or not, if there are 3 or more tenants not all related in any property, it is still likely to be an HMO, and special Management rules will apply.
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
The HHSRS provides an analysis of how hazardous a property is through assessment of 29 potential hazards found in housing. Landlords must maintain their properties to provide a safe and healthy environment. The HHSRS is enforced by local authorities.
Tenancy Deposit Protection
All deposits taken by landlords and letting agents under Assured Short-hold Tenancies (ASTs) in England and Wales must be protected by a tenancy deposit protection scheme. To avoid any disputes going to court, each scheme is supported by an alternative dispute resolution service (ADR). Landlords and letting agents can choose between two types of scheme; a single custodial scheme and two insurance-based schemes.
The Disability Discrimination Act 2005
The DDA 2005 addresses the limitations of current legislation by extending disabled people’s rights in respect of premises that are let or to be let, and common-hold premises. Landlords and managers of let premises and premises that are to let will be required to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people.
Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)
Since 1st October 2008 landlords in England and Wales offering property for rent are required by law to provide prospective tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate for their property. The certificates must be provided free either when (or before) any written information about the property is provided to prospective tenants or a viewing is conducted. An EPC is valid for 10 years. We can arrange an EPC inspection for our landlord clients upon request.
The above is a brief summary of landlords’ responsibilities and of the laws surrounding tenanted property. We hope that you find it useful. If there are any aspects of which you are unsure, please ask us. We look forward to being of assistance to you in the letting of your property. If you wish you can print this page by using your browser Print option.
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