What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy?
>Most tenancies will automatically be Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs), provided the rent is under £25,000 a year and the property is let to private individuals. Tenancies are usually granted for an initial fixed term of either 6 to 12 months. When the fixed term has expired the landlord is able to regain possession of the property provided he gives two months written notice to the tenant. In addition, if the tenant owes at least 2 months or 8 weeks rent on the property he can apply through the court to seek a possession order.
The following requirements are the responsibility of the owner (Landlord). Where we are managing the property they are also our responsibility. Therefore where we are managing we will ensure compliance, any costs of which will be the responsibility of the landlord.
Annual safety check: Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use)
Regulations 1998 all gas appliances and flues in rented accommodation must be checked for safety within 12 months of being installed, and thereafter at least every 12 months by a Gas Safe Registered engineer.
There is a duty to ensure that all gas appliances, flues and associated pipework are maintained in a safe condition at all times.
Full records must be kept for at least 2 years of the inspections of each appliance and flue, of any defects found and of any remedial action taken.
Copies to Tenants
A copy of the safety certificate issued by the engineer must be given to each new tenant before their tenancy commences, or to each existing tenant within 28 days of the check being carried out.
There are several regulations relating to electrical installations, equipment and appliance safety, and these affect landlords and their agents in that they are 'supplying in the course of business'. They include the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, the Plugs and Sockets Regulations 1994, the 2005 Building Regulation - 'Part P, and British Standard BS1363 relating to plugs and sockets. Although with tenanted property there is currently no legal requirement for an electrical safety certificate (except in the case of all HMOs) it is now widely accepted in the letting industry that the only safe way to ensure safety, and to avoid the risk of being accused of neglecting your 'duty of care', or even of manslaughter is to arrange such an inspection and certificate.
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, bedcovers including duvets, loose covers for mattresses, pillowcases, curtains, carpets or sleeping bags. Items which comply will have a suitable permanent label attached. Non-compliant items must be removed before a tenancy commences.
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, 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).
Is your property a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)?
If your property is on 3 or more levels and let to 5 or more tenants comprising 2 or more households (i.e. not all of 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 apply. Learn more here: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/licensinghouses. For more information and to obtain an HMO Licensing Information pack and HMO Licensing application form please contact Private Sector Housing on 023 8068 8301.
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 have to maintain their properties to provide a safe and healthy environment. The HHSRS is enforced by local authorities. For further information visit www.communities.gov.uk/hhsrs
The Tenancy Deposit Scheme
From 6 April 2007, all deposits taken by Landlords and Letting Agents under Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) in England and Wales must be protected by a tenancy deposit protection scheme. Landlords and Letting Agents must not take a deposit unless it is dealt with under a tenancy deposit scheme. You can learn more on the government website, which includes an overview of the requirements.
Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)
From 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.
Right to Rent, Landlords responsibility
Compulsory checks by landlords on the immigration status of new tenants are to be introduced across the country from 1st February. The new law, known as Right to Rent, will have serious implications for landlords that do not comply. The law hopes to deter illegal residents from remaining in the UK.