There are many legal aspects to letting a property, including various health and safety requirements plus Right to Rent immigration checks.
Should you appoint a Letting Agent then they may also be responsible for some legal aspects regarding your property. It’s therefore important to have a clear agreement as to what you are responsible for as a Landlord, and what areas your Letting Agent will take responsibility for.
Right to Rent
From the 1st February 2016 the Right to Rent Scheme has been rolled out across England. This requires Landlords or their Letting Agents to check prospective Tenant's right to reside in the UK. Additionally, further follow up checks must be made where an adult occupier’s permission to stay in the UK is time limited. Failure to conduct the legal checks or take appropriate action can result in fines of up to £3000. Bourne have a strict policy for checking the Tenant's Right to Rent on behalf of our Landlords. For further guidance the following links may be helpful:
Health & Safety
As a Landlord you will be responsible for property maintenance and any major repairs where required. Such works can include repairs to the interior and exterior of the building, electrical, plumbing, heating and hot water systems. Some of the main areas of Health & Safety to consider are detailed below:
Energy Assessments - EPC
From 1st October 2008 all landlords in England and Wales are required by law to provide their new Tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). A Landlord is responsible for providing a valid EPC whether they are managing the property themselves or using an Agent.
● Gas Regulations
Landlords must comply with the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and carry out all work and maintenance via a Gas Safe registered engineer. They are also legally responsible for arranging an annual gas safety check, and certificates must be provided to both the Tenant and Letting Agent and retained for at least 2 years. If the property is fully managed this is usually arranged by the Agent unless otherwise instructed.
● Fire Regulations
Any furniture left in the property must comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended in 1993). These relate to the provision of upholstered furniture. If any furniture does not comply with the regulations and carry an appropriate label, it should be removed and/or replaced.
● Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations
Private sector Landlords are required as a minimum to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their property and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance. Thereafter, the Landlord is responsible for ensuring the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.
● Legionnaires’ Disease
Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia which can potentially be fatal, especially to young children, the elderly or infirm. It is caused by the inhalation of small droplets of contaminated water which contains Legionella. Man-made hot and cold water systems could potentially provide an environment where Legionella can grow. Landlords have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their Tenants, including prevention of health hazards such as Legionnaires’ disease . Domestic hot and cold water systems which are well maintained, and used regularly minimise the risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria. Other simple controls to help minimise the risk of exposure can include:
- Flushing through the water system prior to letting the property
- Remove any redundant pipework
- Showers which have not been used for a period of time should be run prior to use
- Run cold water taps, especially where used for drinking purposes, for a short period following holidays or where the property has been empty for a while
- Prevent debris entering into the system (for example ensure the cold water tanks have a tight fitting lid)
- Set appropriate temperature controls (for example hot water stored in a cylinder should be stored at 60°C)
If you have a property which falls into the category of an HMO or House in Multiple Occupation, it will be subject to special licence requirements (the licence needs to be granted by your local authority) and will need to meet additional requirements including fire safety, means of escape, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers.
For more information please see the following links: