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Landlord legislation, what is it and how do I comply? 

Latest News and Updates May 5, 2023 518 Views
Landlord legislation, what is it and how do I comply? 

Speak to any seasoned landlord and they’ll tell you that regulations within the residential lettings industry can feel like a minefield but, the importance of regulatory compliance cannot be understated. Industry experts estimate that there are around 168 pieces of regulation that govern the private rented sector, this covers everything from getting consent to let your property from a lender to MEES requirements to how you handle deposit negotiations. Over the years these regulations have been put in place to safeguard tenants, protect landlord’s assets and help eliminate criminal activity within the industry. In this article we will look at a few of the main regulations that you will need to comply with if wish to be a residential landlord.

Pre-Tenancy:

Right to Rent checks: Right to Rent checks are a crucial part of the UK’s government’s efforts to prevent illegal immigration. Landlords and letting agents have a legal responsibility to carry out these checks on all prospective tenants before granting a tenancy agreement. The checks are designed to confirm that the tenant has the legal right to rent property in the UK.

The checks involve a process of verifying the tenant’s identity and their right to reside in the UK. To do this, landlords must check the tenant’s original documents, such as a passport, biometric residence permit or visa, and ensure that they are valid and in date. It is important to note that photocopies of documents are not sufficient and can lead to penalties or fines.

It is important to carry out these checks, not only to avoid legal penalties but also to ensure that the tenancy agreement is legally binding. If the landlord fails to carry out these checks and it is later discovered that the tenant does not have the right to rent, the landlord may be liable for a civil penalty of up to £3,000 per tenant.

Gas Safety Certificates: Landlords are required to provide tenants with an up-to-date gas safety certificate for all gas appliances in the property. This certificate needs to be provided before the tenant moves in. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in legal action and a fine of up to £6,000.

Electrical Safety Certificates: From July 1st, 2020, landlords are required to provide tenants with an up-to-date electrical safety certificate for all electrical installations in the property. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in legal action and a fine of up to £30,000.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC): Landlords are required to provide tenants with an EPC that rates the energy efficiency of the property. This certificate needs to be provided before the tenant moves in.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms: Landlords are required to provide working smoke alarms on every floor of the property. If the property has a fixed combustion appliance (an appliance that burns fuel to generate heat such as a boiler) you must ensure a carbon monoxide alarm is equipped in any room used as living accommodation that contains the fixed combustible appliance (excluding gas cookers). Failure to comply with these regulations can result in legal action and a fine of up to £5,000.

HMO Licences: HMO stands for House in Multiple Occupation, and it refers to a property that is rented out to three or more people who are not from the same household and who share communal facilities such as a kitchen or bathroom.

Landlords of HMOs in the UK are required to have an HMO licence. This licence is issued by the local council and ensures that the property meets specific health, safety, and welfare standards. The licence is valid for up to five years, and landlords must renew it before it expires.

To obtain an HMO licence, landlords must provide evidence that the property meets certain requirements, such as having adequate fire safety measures, sufficient bathroom and kitchen facilities, and appropriate room sizes for each occupant. Additionally, landlords must provide a valid gas safety certificate, carry out regular electrical safety checks, and ensure that the property is free from hazards such as mould or damp.

Failure to obtain an HMO licence can result in significant fines, and landlords may also be required to repay rent to their tenants. In some cases, landlords can face criminal charges if they fail to obtain an HMO licence.

During Tenancy Section:

Tenancy Deposit Protection: Landlords are required to protect the tenant’s deposit in a government-approved scheme. This protection needs to be provided within 30 days of receiving the deposit. Non-compliance can result in legal action and a fine of up to three times the amount of the deposit.

Repairs and Maintenance: Landlords are required to keep the property in good repair and working order throughout the tenancy agreement. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in legal action and a fine.

Rent Increases: Landlords can only increase the rent once per year, and they need to provide tenants with at least one month’s notice.

Post Tenancy:

Returning the Deposit: Landlords are required to return the tenant’s deposit within ten days of the end of the tenancy agreement, minus any deductions for damages or unpaid rent. Any deductions can usually be negotiated by landlord (or agent) and the tenant but if these negotiations are unsuccessful and parties cannot agree on how much deposit should be returned at the end of the tenancy, they can use an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) service to settle the dispute. ADR is a way of resolving disputes without going to court, and it’s often faster and cheaper than litigation.

There are three government-approved ADR schemes available for landlords and tenants in England and Wales: the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), MyDeposits, and Deposit Protection Service (DPS). These schemes provide a free and impartial dispute resolution service for landlords and tenants.

If the dispute cannot be resolved through ADR, the parties may need to go to court to have the matter settled. However, it is usually advisable to try to resolve disputes through ADR before resorting to litigation, as court proceedings can be time-consuming and expensive.

In conclusion, navigating the regulations and compliance requirements in the residential lettings industry can be overwhelming for landlords. However, failure to comply with these regulations can result in significant legal and financial consequences. 

At Clarke Properties, we understand the importance of regulatory compliance and have a wealth of knowledge and expertise in this area. So, if you’re feeling worried about complying with the mountain of regulations or just need some advice, get in touch and one of our property experts will be happy to help.

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