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A guide to Rules & Regulations

from Sugarhouse Properties

Crossword made up of rules and regulations

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 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 the most important ones below. There are currently in excess of 140 separate legal and process requirements governing the renting of a property, and being a landlord is no longer a casual occupation. How confident are you as a landlord that you're keeping up with these? If you're not, then we can help!

Gas

(The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998)
Where there are any gas appliances in the 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 boilers efficiency and to prolong its life span.

Electric

(The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994)
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. If your property is a house in multiple occupation of any kind then you must have a five yearly electrical safety check carried out by a competent electrician even if you do not need a licence. This will cover shared houses, flats in multiple occupation, bedsits, hostels and certain converted blocks of flats.

Fire Safety

(The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005)
Where fire alarm systems are provided in a house in multiple occupation, the landlord is responsible for ensuring these are checked regularly. You must also make sure that the means of escape from the 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.

Furniture

(The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended)
All furniture and furnishings provided in the 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 is likely not to 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 property. This must be made available to prospective tenants 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.

HMO Licensing

(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.

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme

Changes to the way in which a tenancy is set up has take a real shake up in the past few years. 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've issued the appropriate documents to the tenants before they move in and 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 check that the tenants have the correct immigration status to be in the UK. Conducting these checks is relatively simple, however, 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

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