Residential landlords

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What you need to know when renting out a property

The rules and regulations which residential landlords have to abide by have changed over the last few years with the last big change being in October 2015. As a landlord you must be aware of your obligations to avoid falling foul of the legislation and potentially giving your tenant a claim against you or losing some of your rights.

Before you enter into a new assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement you must make sure:

  • At the start of the tenancy your tenant is given the up to date version of the leaflet entitled “How to rent – the checklist for renting in England”;
  • The tenant must be given a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate and current gas safety certificate for the property;
  • The tenant should be given a record of the electrical inspection(s) (it is recommended that a check is carried every 5 years);
  • If a deposit is taken it must be registered with a recognised tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of receipt and prescribed information must have been served on the tenant;
  • The tenant should be supplied with a copy of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme certificate, including its certificate number, once the tenancy has been registered;
  • Smoke alarms must be fitted to all areas used as living accommodation; and
  • Carbon monoxide alarms must be provided in all rooms containing a solid fuel burning combustion appliance.

If you do not comply with any of the above requirements then any Section 21 Notice you serve will not be valid. A Section 21 Notice is used to bring a tenancy agreement to an end where the parties cannot do so by agreement. In most cases you can put right what you have not done and then serve your notice, but in the case of the deposit, if you have not protected it AND served the prescribed information you will have to return the deposit to the tenant first!

Failure to comply with these rules causes delay and can possibly be costly to you as a landlord. If you have failed to protect the tenant’s deposit they can not only seek repayment of that deposit but can issue a claim against you in the County Court for payment of damages for anything up to three times the value of the deposit.

Even though the regulations have been in force in their current form for 24 months we are still finding that people simply are not aware of them and so have not fulfilled their obligations.

You should also be aware that if you do not have a smoke detector on every floor where there is a room used wholly or partly as “living accommodation” the local housing authority can serve a remedial notice on you and if matters are not remedied, a fine of up to £5,000 can be levied. Be warned, the regulations specifically state that a bathroom and toilet is classed as “living accommodation so if there is a floor in the house that only has a bathroom on it you must still have a smoke detector fitted.

Similarly, if you do not fit a carbon monoxide alarm in a room with a solid fuel combusting appliance the local housing authority can serve a remedial notice and impose a fine of up to £5,000.

If you are the landlord of a residential property and are worried about whether you comply with all of the current requirements or require help with a Section 21 Notice please contact our Commercial Litigation team, call 01733 882800 or email [email protected].

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