Rules and regulations
A guide for Landlords in Leeds
The legal side of things can be a bit of a minefield to the uninitiated, particularly in recent years when a number of new legislative and planning changes have caught out many a well-meaning private landlord managing their property themselves. Estate agents and letting agents in Leeds have also fallen foul of some of the more recent updates with changes in data capture adding to the existing legal and ever-expanding safety guidelines. There’s rather a lot to remember!
As a landlord there are a number of basic safety checks you need to undertake and a raft of other related issues of which you need to be aware; we’ve briefly listed some of the most important ones below. There are currently in excess of 140 separate legal and process requirements governing the renting of a property. Being a landlord in Leeds is definitely no longer a casual occupation. How confident are you as a landlord that you’re keeping up with these? If you’re not, then you definitely need a good lettings agent in Leeds that can help!
(The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998)
Where there are any gas appliances in the rental property provided by the landlord, the landlord must ensure that annual gas safety checks are carried out. These checks must be carried out by a gas fitter/ engineer who is registered on the Gas Safe Register and a copy of the relevant certificate must also be given to the tenant. These certificates are valid for twelve months. An annual boiler service is recommended to be conducted at the same time, to maintain the boiler’s efficiency and to prolong its life span.
(The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994) and Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020)
Where a property is provided with electrical appliances, it is the landlord’s responsibility to make sure that they are safe at the outset of letting. Houses in multiple occupation (HMOS’) of any kind have always needed a five yearly electrical safety check (electrical installation condition report or EICR) carried out by a competent electrician. This covers shared houses, flats in multiple occupation, bedsits, hostels and certain converted blocks of flats.
In addition to this, the Government introduced a new piece of legislation in 2020 requiring all privately rented accommodation to have an EICR in place for any new tenancy commencing after the 1st July 2020. The legislation goes on to cover existing tenancy agreements, whereby any tenant on a tenancy prior to the 1st July 2020 must have an EICR completed and issued by the 1st April 2021. Many properties may never have had an EICR before, so a qualified electrician should provide information on measures needed to correct any areas not to standard, which the landlord will have 28 days to complete as well as providing the tenant with a satisfactory EICR certificate.
(The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005)
Where fire alarm systems are provided in a house in multiple occupation (HMO), the landlord is responsible for ensuring these are checked regularly. You must also make sure that the means of escape from the rental property (normally the halls stairs and landings) are unobstructed. Houses in multiple occupation include shared houses, flats in multiple occupation, bedsits and certain types of converted flats.
(The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended))
All furniture and furnishings provided in the rental property must be fire resistant, whilst furniture and upholstery should pass the “match resistance” and “cigarette” tests as prescribed. Whilst most furniture now complies with this legislation, older furniture and antique furniture may not comply.
Energy Performance Certificates (EPCS)
Before a property can be advertised for rent, there must be an energy performance certificate in place for most types of rental property. This must be made available to prospective tenants by the landlord and a copy of the certificate given to any tenant who moves into the property. These certificates currently last for 10 years.
There are now new requirements for a property to meet minimum energy efficiency standards which came into force on 1st April 2018. Any property which is rated below an E on the EPC, will not be able to be advertised until either improvement works have been undertaken to improve the EPC rating, or an exemption for the works has been granted by the local authority. For more information on minimum standards for EPC’s, please see the link to the Government’s webpage here;
The Tenancy Deposit Scheme
If a deposit is taken from a tenant under an assured shorthold tenancy, the deposit must be protected under one of the three tenancy deposit schemes and the relevant prescribed information for the scheme should be given to the tenant. This should all be done within 30 days of the deposit being paid and clearly explained in the prescribed documents given to the tenants at the point of signing.
(The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018)
Where a property is rented to a group of five or more unrelated sharers on an assured short-hold tenancy agreement then it is likely that you will need to obtain an HMO license to be able to rent out the property. Depending on the type of properties, various provisions will need to be made in terms of amenity levels and fire safety.
There have been some significant changes to the way that a property is categorised as an HMO, which has meant that some properties which may not have been categorised as an HMO previously. These changes came into effect on 1st October 2018. For more information, please visit the local council websites or speak to one of our lettings team.
Landlord Notice to Quit – Section 21
There has been a real shake up to the way in which a tenancy is set up and ended in recent years, with further temporary measures added to protect tenants from evictions during the Corona epidemic. This is also the case when it comes to ending a tenancy by way of the landlord providing notice for a tenant to vacate. The old-style Section 21 notice, or Notice To Quit, has been superseded by a new prescribed form of notice. However, the validity of this notice is dependent on certain documents being provided to the tenant even before the tenancy begins. Therefore, as a landlord, you need to make sure you have issued the appropriate documents to the tenants before they move in and have also obtained evidence that you have done so.
Right to Rent checks
As part of letting a property to tenants, as a landlord you must ensure that anyone named on the tenancy agreement has been checked to ensure that your tenants have the correct immigration status to be in the UK. Conducting these checks is relatively simple but it is really important that you document the checks and follow the guidelines issued by the Government on any tenant who may have a limited time to rent in the UK.
For more information, the government’s website is the most comprehensive bank of information: https://www.gov.uk/check-tenant-right-to-rent-documents
Data Protection and Information Commissioner Office (ICO) Registration
With GDPR legislation already in place, there is a requirement for landlords to ensure that all sensitive personal data belonging to tenants, guarantors and any other party associated with a tenancy agreement, is held, processed and destroyed in a safe way. This is covered under the Digital Economy Act 2017.
The above is a summary of some of the main areas to be aware of. Your letting agent or estate agent in Leeds, where the property is managed, should normally take care of most of these for you but it’s important that as a landlord you understand where your liabilities and responsibilities lie. At Sugarhouse we have in-house experts who would be happy to provide more details on any of the above; please just contact us if you’d like more information.