Landlord Legislation for Property & Renting: Everything you need to know

10th September, 2020, by Luke Pritchett MARLA

With the number of laws creating an obligation on private landlords having increased by 32% since 2010, changes can be easy to miss. This can be costly for landlords that fail to comply, whose number is far from negligible. According to the latest government survey into private letting, a substantial proportion of landlords are not compliant with current legal requirements concerning the letting, management and maintenance of their properties.

In fact, 38% of those asked did not check a tenant’s right to rent, while 16% of them did not provide tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Alarmingly, 31% of landlords failed to provide carbon monoxide alarms.

Obviously, with all these changes taking place, keeping up to date with the latest legislation can be tricky. For this reason, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know as a landlord when it comes to legislation.

 

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

By law all properties require an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) prior to marketing. This document lets prospective tenant know how energy efficient the property is and should be available if requested on viewings. You will not be able to use a section 21 if you have not provided your tenant with an EPC prior to the let. Certificates are valid for ten years, but the property should be reassessed if there have been any major changes since the last evaluation.

Important note: In 2018, new legislation came into effect to help improve the energy efficiency of private rented property in England and Wales. As a result, any private rented property must achieve an energy efficiency rating of at least an E on their EPC. Since 1st April 2020, landlords can no longer let or continue to let properties covered by the Domestic Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard Regulations (MEES), if they have an EPC rating below E, unless they have a valid exemption in place.

 

Right to Rent

As a landlord, you need to ensure that your prospective tenants have the right to legally rent residential property in the UK, even those that are not named on the tenancy. This means that they should be in the country lawfully, in accordance with immigration laws. Original documents will be required to prove a tenant’s right to be in the UK, such as ID cards or passports. Landlords will be held responsible by the home office if they are found renting to people without permission to be in the country.

 

Gas Safety

All rented property with a gas supply must have a gas safety certificate carried out prior to the let and a copy given to the tenant before they move in. This check must then be made annually by a Gas Safe engineer and given to your tenant within 28 days of completion. This is an extremely important piece of paper that can carry a prison sentence for landlords who do not hold one.

 

Electrical Safety

As a landlord it is your legal responsibility to ensure that your property’s electrical system and supplied electrical appliances are safe for your tenant. The best way to prove this is to have a fixed wiring inspection carried out by a qualified electrician, who will then issue a safety certificate. According to the new Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 that came into force on the 1 July 2020, you are obliged to carry out mandatory electrical safety checks on all new tenancies every five years. Following that, you must provide a copy of the electrical safety report to your tenants and also the local authority if you’re asked to do so. The regulations will be extended to existing tenancies from April 2021.

 

Legionella Risk Assessment

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. For this purpose, you must conduct a risk assessment for Legionnaire’s Disease and take suitable precautions, as defined by Health and Safety Executive (HSE), to prevent or control the risk of exposure to legionella. The amount of depth required depends on individual properties. In some instances, a water sample may be required.

 

Furniture

If renting your property furnished each item of furniture must have a label to confirm it complies with The Furniture and Furnishings Fire and Safety Regulations Act 1988. For instance, all furniture must be fire-safe, meaning it carries the ‘match’ and ‘cigarette’ test labels. There are some exceptions for antique furniture.

 

Smoke Alarms and CO2 Detectors

According to The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015, all rented properties are required to have one smoke detector installed on every floor as a minimum, as well as a carbon monoxide alarm in rooms containing a solid fuel burning appliance source, such as an open fire. Landlords are responsible for checking that all alarms are working properly at the start of each new tenancy and are required to test them regularly.

 

House in Multiple Occupation Licence

If you rent your property as a House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) you may require a licence. A property is classed as an HMO if at least three tenants live there – forming more than one household – and the toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities are shared. Nottingham City Council currently have two types of licencing requirements, ‘Mandatory Licencing’ and ‘Additional Licencing’. You will need to meet the provisions of the licence and prove you are a fit and proper person to rent the property. Failure to apply for the licence could result in a £20,000 fine.

 

Deposit Protection

In April 2007, the government introduced tenancy deposit protection legislation to improve standards within the property industry. As a result, if you decide to take a deposit, which is generally considered as a good idea as it gives the tenant an incentive to look after the property, this will need to be registered by law with one of the three deposit schemes as per their terms of use. You will need to give your tenant the certificate with the prescribed information and relevant leaflet within 30 days of receiving the deposit. Failure to do so will mean you are unable to use a section 21 and your tenant could take action against you for between one and three times the deposit amount.

 

For more information or guidance on everything landlord-related, please feel free to get in touch with our management team on 0115 8411155 or at propertymanagement@fhpliving.co.uk. Our qualified staff are always on hand to offer their expert advice and protect your property against the risks involved in the ever-changing landscape of the private rented Sector.