Country Properties can help with legislation for landlords

As an experienced lettings agent, Country Properties can help ensure you meet all the necessary legal requirements for letting out your property. Feel free to come to us with questions and queries.

Landlord legislation includes requirements for:

  • Blinds
  • Central heating, boilers & gas appliances
  • Checkout inspection
  • Deposits and Tenancy Deposit Protection
  • Electrical Equipment and PAT Testing
  • Electrical Installations
  • EPC
  • Furniture and Furnishing (Fire Safety)
  • Legionella
  • Refundable Tenancy Deposit: tenancies before 01/06/2019
  • Refundable Tenancy Deposti: tenancies from 01/06/2019
  • Right to Rent
  • Sine abd Carbon Monoxide Alarms
  • Tenant Fees Act (2019)

Blinds

New European regulations now apply to the installations for raising and lowering blinds and the movement of curtains across windows. This means that new blinds and curtains being installed by a contractor will have fixed cords or ball bearing pulls to prevent any danger of asphyxiation to a young child; and a warning notice with the purchasing material. Existing blinds and windows may need to be fitted with safety features to ensure compliance and to ensure safety. Throughout the agent’s period of management, it will check all blinds and curtains on a management visit and if necessary arrange for the relevant safety feature to be fitted at the landlord’s expense. If the agent is not managing the premises at any time, it will be your responsibility to make such checks and arrange the fitting of any necessary safety feature.

Central heating, boilers and all gas appliances

The Gas Safety Regulations require all gas appliances to be inspected and a certificate (GSC) to be provided on an annual basis. We will normally arrange for these to be carried out. If you make your own arrangements your property manager will require a valid copy of the GSC before the first tenancy can commence and then on an annual basis thereafter. If we are not provided with certificates and they expire, we will not be able to start a tenancy without a valid certificate if required.

Checkout inspection

At the end of each tenancy we will check the property carefully (fully managed only). We/ you are required to agree deductions between landlord and tenant, and we will do everything we can to reach an agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached the matter will be referred to the relevant body for arbitration. Both the landlord and tenant must accept the decision of the Independent Case Examiner (service included on Full Management only).

Deposits & tenancy deposit protection

The deposit will equal 5 weeks rent per the Tenant Fees Act 2019. The purpose of the deposit is to cover damage to the property over and above normal wear and tear and/or any rent arrears or costs incurred as a result of breach of contract.

The 2004 Housing Act prevents landlords from holding unregistered/unprotected deposits. All Country Properties branches are members of a tenancy deposit service. All deposits relating to Assured Shorthold Tenancies will be dealt with under the rules of the Tenancy Deposit Regulations. Deposits relating to tenanchies which are not Assured Shorthold Tenancies are not part of the scheme, although will be dealt with along the principles of the scheme.

Electrical equipment and PAT Testing

It is recommended that all portable electrical items are tested before each tenancy. We can arrange for this to be done with a suitably qualified external contractor. The cost will be the landlord’s responsibility

Electrical installations

The electrical installation can be tested before the beginning of the first tenancy. Any works to ensure that the system is safe will need to be carried out. It is, however, not necessary for electrical installations to be tested on an annual basis and we can arrange for them to be re-tested on the recommendations of the electricians. This is normally after 5-10 years.

It is essential that we have test certificates and reports if you hold them. We can, therefore, arrange for an electrician to carry out the necessary tests at the appropriate time. If you would prefer to do this yourself, the documentary evidence must be provided to us. Even if you have had an inspection carried out but are unable to supply the certificate it may be necessary to have the tests carried out ag

EPCs & Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are needed whenever a property is built, sold or rented and are valid for 10 years. EPCs present the efficiency of dwellings on a scale of A to G. The most efficient homes - which should have the lowest fuel bills - are in band A. The certificate uses the same scale to define the impact a home has on the environment.

Better-rated homes should have less impact through carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.  Regulations effective from 1st April 2016 state a tenant can apply for consent to carry out energy efficiency improvements in privately rented properties, subject to approval.

From the April 2018 there is a requirement for any properties rented out in the private rented sector to normally have a minimum energy performance rating of E on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The regulations are in force for new lets and renewals of tenancies with effect from 1st April 2018 and for all existing tenancies on 1st April 2020. It will be unlawful to rent a property which breaches the requirement for a minimum E rating, unless there is an applicable exemption. A civil penalty of up to £4,000 will be imposed for breaches.

Furniture & Furnishings (Fire & Safety) Regulations 1988

Any soft furnishings in a let property must comply with the above regulations. Generally, soft furnishings manufactured after March 1990 will comply although must have the relevant labels. Any unlabelled furniture is deemed non compliant (unless it is antique horsehair filled and has not been reupholstered). Letting a property with non-compliant furniture is a serious offence which could lead to prosecution of the landlord and agents.

Legionella

All hot and cold water systems in residential properties are a potential source for Legionella bacteria growth. All landlords and agents in control of private rented properties are now required to protect their tenants against the risk of contracting Legionnaire's Disease. Country Properties can arrange the necessary assessments.

Refundable tenancy deposit: Tenancies before 01/06/2019

There is no requirement to refund deposit amounts exceeding the applicable five- or six-week limit, where a Fixed Term agreement entered into before 1 June 2019 becomes a Statutory Periodic Tenancy.  NB: Where a tenant renews their tenancy by signing a new Fixed Term agreement on or after 1 June 2019, any amount of their existing deposit which exceeds the applicable five- or six-week limit must be refunded. 

As of 01/06/2020 ALL deposits over their cap will need the difference to be refunded to the tenant.

Refundable tenancy deposit: Tenancies from 01/06/2019

From the 01/06/2019 a refundable tenancy deposit is capped at no more than 5 weeks’ rent where the total annual rent is below £50,000, or six weeks’ rent where the total annual rent is £50,000 or above. You may ask a tenant to pay a tenancy deposit as security for the performance of any obligations, or the discharge of any liability arising under or in connection with the tenancy for example in case of any damage or unpaid rent or bills at the end of the tenancy (England only).

You are not legally required to take a deposit. In any case, you must not ask for a deposit which is more than five weeks’ rent where the annual rent is less than £50,000. If the annual rent is £50,000 or greater the tenancy deposit is capped six weeks’ rent. Any amount above this will be a prohibited payment.  

Right to rent

From 1 February 2016, all private landlords (and their agents) in England must check that new tenants have the right to be in the UK before renting out their property (Immigration Act 2014). If the Right to Rent check is acceptable an agent can proceed with the normal full referencing procedure, but should a Right to Rent check fail, by law we will be unable to allow a tenancy to commence. We cannot agree a let until the applicant(s) have provided the agent with the correct documents. If a tenant has a time-limited right to remain, landlords and letting agents will need to conduct follow up checks; normally 12 months from the initial check or at the expiry of the individual’s right to be in the UK (whichever is the later).

Right to rent was introduced in the Immigration Act 2014 as part of the government’s reforms to build a fairer and more effective immigration system.

Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015

From the 1 October 2015 landlords have to ensure that a smoke alarm is fitted on every floor of their property where there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation. They will also have to put a carbon monoxide alarm in any room where solid fuel is burnt, such as wood, coal or biomass and includes open fires. Landlords or agents will then have to ensure that the alarms work at the start of each new tenancy. For example, by pressing the test button until the alarm sounds.

Tenant Fees Act (2019)

The Tenant Fees Act bans most letting fees and caps tenancy deposits paid by tenants in the private rented sector in England.  The ban on tenant fees applies to new or renewed tenancy agreements signed on or after 1 June 2019.

The government guidance on the Act for tenants, landlords and letting agents helps explain how this legislation affects them. You might also find the ‘How to Rent’ and ‘How to Let’ guides useful.

The aim of the Act is to reduce the costs that tenants can face at the outset, and throughout, a tenancy. Tenants will be able to see, at a glance, what a given property will cost them in the advertised rent with no hidden costs.
 

From 1 June 2019, the only payments that landlords or letting agents can charge to tenants in relation to new contracts are:

  • Rent
  • A refundable tenancy deposit capped at no more than 5 week's rent where the total annual rent is less tha £50,000 or 6 week's rent where the total annual rent is £50,000 or above
  • A refundable holding deposit (to reserve a property) capped at no more that 1 week's rent
  • Payments associated with early termination of the tenancy, when requested by the tenant
  • Payments capped at £50 (or reasonably incurred costs, if higher) for the variation, assignment or novation of a tenancy
  • Payments in respect of utilities, communication services, TV licence and council tax
  • A default fee for late payment of rent and replacement of a lost key/ security device giving access to the housing, where required under a tenancy agreement
*The information on the Country Properties website is for general information only and reflects the understanding at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.