In any case, Landlords have always had a duty of care under Common Law to ensure that rented property is kept in a safe condition and it is therefore essential to examine the property and its contents closely before letting.
Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System was introduced under the 2004 Housing Act. It is a risk based valuation tool, designed to identify potential hazards to Health and Safety from deficiencies identified in dwellings. Common breaches of this legislation include a lack of extractor fans in Bathrooms and Kitchens, trip hazards such as uneven patio slabs and loosely fitted carpets or staircases without handrails.
Fire and Furnishings Regulations
Under the Furnishing (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 (Amended 1989 and 1993), it states 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 none original covers for furniture. They do not apply to antique furniture or furniture made before 1950, bed covers including duvets, loose covers for mattresses, pillow cases, curtains, carpets or sleeping bags. Items that comply will have a suitable permanent label or swing ticket attached. None compliant items much be removed before the tenancy commences.
Landlords are required by Law to ensure that the electrical installation is safe when a tenant moves in and is maintained in a safe condition throughout the duration of the tenancy. A HMO (House Multiple Occupation) requires a periodic inspection to be completed every five years. It is recommended that a periodic inspection is completed on all properties prior to letting. Any appliance provided in the property must also be in a safe condition.
Gas Safety Regulations for Landlords and Agents
From the 31st October 1994 it became Law for gas equipment in rented properties to be serviced and safety checked before a tenancy and then annually by a Registered Installer and for Landlords or their Agents to keep accurate records of work carried out on all appliances in their control, confirmed by an Official Safety Certificate. It is a legal requirement that we ensure that a Gas Safety Certificate is provided for the tenant annually. This, of course, includes all gas appliances like cookers, fires and flues, as well as boilers and water heaters. Landlords are reminded that only British Gas or Gas Safe Registered Plumbers should carry out this work. It is desirable to leave all gas appliances with Service Contracts in place.
Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Legislation introduced from the 1st October 2015 makes it a requirement for a smoke alarm to be fitted on each occupied floor and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room where a solid fuel combustible appliance is present. In addition, it is recommended that a carbon monoxide alarm be situated in a room where a gas boiler is fitted. It is always a legal requirement to be able to demonstrate that alarms were working on the day that the tenancy commences.
The Health and Safety Executive made it clear that the Landlord, or the Landlord’s Agent, are responsible for helping reduce the spread of Legionella in water Systems in private rented properties. The Landlord has overall responsibility to ensure that their properties meet these requirements. It is therefore recommended that you have a water assessment undertaken to check for legionella bacteria which causes legionnaires disease. This assessment will identify and evaluate potential sources of exposure and recommended steps to prevent or control any risk that is identified.
Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
This came into effect in October 2006 and it applies to the common parts of blocks of flats and houses in multiple occupation (HMO). It is a mandatory requirement that a detailed fire risk assessment be carried out to identify any risks or hazards and any such findings should be eliminated or reduced.
Energy Performance Certificate and Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards
All rental properties with a new tenancy in England and Wales are required to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The EPC will rate the energy efficiency of the property and its environmental impact. The EPC survey must be completed prior to marketing a property and the tenant is required to receive a copy of the Report before entering into a Tenancy Agreement. Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) came into effect in April 2018, making it unlawful to grant a new Lease to properties with an ‘F’ or ‘G’ EPC rating.
Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018
The Act amends the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and came into effect on the 20th March 2019 and requires Landlords to ensure that a property is fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout the duration of a tenancy. If a home isn’t up to the standard of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), tenants will have the right to take legal action in the Courts for breach of contract. Landlords are not liable where unfitness has been caused by the action of Tenants. It is important that records are maintained of the property condition at the start of the tenancy, on tenancy inspections and that reported maintenance items are clearly recorded and detailed in accordance with this Legislation.
The Tenant Fees Act 2019
The Act came into effect on the 1st June 2019 and applies to Landlord, Agents and third parties. The Act provides a total ban to fees that are charged to a tenant, unless it is a permitted payment. Permitted payments include rent, utilities, tenancy deposit (capped at five weeks’ rent), holding deposit (capped at one week’s rent) and tenant default fees. From the 1st June2019 the Act applies to new Tenancies/ Contracts signed on the 1st June or thereafter. It will apply to all tenancies from the 1st June 2020.
If you have any questions or queries in relation to any of the above, then please speak with a member of the Mundy’s Letting Team.