Legislation for landlords

As an experienced lettings agent, Hunters 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
  • Electrical Safety in the PRS
  • EPC’s and MEES
  • Furniture and Furnishing (Fire Safety)
  • Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act
  • Legionella
  • Prescribed Hazards
  • Refundable Tenancy Deposit: tenancies before 01/06/2019
  • Refundable Tenancy Deposit: tenancies from 01/06/2019
  • Right to Rent
  • Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
  • Tenant Fees Act (2019)
  • The Renting Homes (Fees etc) (Wales) 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.

Red balloons - Q3 - 500x380.jpg

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).

Hand with keyring - Q2.jpg

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 Hunters 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 Safety

The safety of the electrical installations must be tested before the beginning of the first tenancy to ensure the system is safe.  This type of safety check generally should be carried out every 5 years  or sooner on the recommendations of the electrician. This regulation applies by law to England only but we always strongly advise that all safety checks are carried out where possible.

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 (the Electrical Safety Regulations) came into force on 1st June 2020.

  • for new tenancies in the private rented sector with effect from 1 July 2020 (residential only); and
  • for existing residential tenancies in the private rented sector with effect from 1 April 2021.

It means that landlords have to ensure that electrical installations are inspected, and that BS7671:2018 standards are met, at the outset of a tenancy and at least every five years and also issue a copy of the inspection report to the tenants within 28 days of the inspection, and to carry out any remedial work within 28 days of the inspection (or sooner if the report requires).  You can read the Landlord Guide here and also the Electrical Safety Roundtable & NAPIT Q&A.

You can contact your local Hunters office to discuss this and our recommendation is to commission your safety check sooner rather than later due to demand.

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 2020 there is a requirement for any properties rented out in the private rented sector to normally have a minimum energy performance rating of E or higher on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The regulations are in force for all tenancies with effect from 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 will be imposed for breaches.

Chair - Q4 - 500x380 crop.jpg

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.

Homes (Fitness For Human Habitation) Act

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, known as the Homes Act, replaces Section 8 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (LTA 1985) in England, with the purpose of improving living standards in the private and social rented sectors. 

A property unfit for human habitation is ‘so far defective in one or more of those matters that it is not reasonably suitable for occupation in that condition.’   Such as; any prescribed hazard(s), Repair; Stability; Freedom from damp; Internal arrangement; Natural lighting; Facilities for preparation and cooking of food; Water supply; Drainage and sanitary conveniences; Ventilation; and facilities for the disposal of waste water.

Under the Homes Act 2018, landlords and letting agents acting on their behalf must ensure properties, including common parts where they have an estate or interest, are fit for human habitation at the beginning and throughout the duration of a tenancy. Tenants will now be able to take direct legal action if their agent or landlord does not comply with the Act. NB: Agents should be aware that property checks will no longer be needed by local authority enforcement office.  This law applies to ALL domestic tenancies (England Only). 

NB: Section 8 of the LTA 1985 now only applies to tenancies in Wales. The new section 9C applies to Agricultural Tenancies, substituting ‘house’ with ‘dwelling’. The Act does not cover those with ‘Licences to Occupy’. This includes, but is not limited to lodgers, those living in temporary accommodation and some Property Guardians.

All Landlords should ensure their property/dwelling is fit for human habitation and your local agent can help with this.

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. Hunters can arrange the necessary assessments.

Coffee cup - Q1 - 500x380.jpg

Prescribed Hazards

The Housing Act 2004 defines a ‘hazard’ as ‘any risk of harm to the health or safety of an actual occupier of a dwelling or HMO which arises from a deficiency in the dwelling or HMO’. The hazards used in the Homes Act, are the 29 as listed in the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

The 29 HHSRS hazards are: Damp and mould growth; Excess cold; Excess heat; Asbestos and Manufactured Mineral Fibres; Biocides; Carbon monoxide and fuel combustion products; Lead; Radiation; Uncombusted fuel gas; Volatile organic compounds; Crowding and space; Entry by intruders; Lighting; Noise; Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse; Food safety; Sanitation and drainage problems; Water supply; Falls associated with baths; Falls on level surfaces; Falls associated with stairs and ramps; Falls between levels; Electrical hazards; Fire; Flames, hot surfaces and materials; Collision and entrapment; Explosions; Ergonomics; and Structural collapse and falling elements.

Couple with key - Q2 - 500x380.jpg

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. 

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.

Key in pocket - Flats - Q2 - 500x380.jpg

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 Renting Homes (Fees etc) (Wales) Act 2019

Sections 2 and 3 of the Renting Homes (Fees Etc.) (Wales) Act 2019 (“the Act”) create offences for a landlord or agent to require a person to make a payment which is prohibited, or to enter into a contract for services, or to require the grant of a loan in consideration of the grant, renewal or continuance of a standard occupation contract, or pursuant to a term of a standard occupation contract from 1st September 2019.

What does this mean?

  1. Any payment a tenant is required to pay, unless permitted by the Act, is banned and is a "prohibited payment". This is referred to in this guidance as "the ban".
  2. Landlords and agents cant require the grant of a loan to them, or require a person to enter into a contract for services with them as a condition of a tenancy.

 

From 1 September 2019, the only payments that landlord's or letting agent's can charge to tenants in relation to new contracts are:

  • Rent
  • A refundable tenancy deposit
  • A refundable holding deposit (to reserve a property) capped at no more that 1 week's rent
  • Payments in respect to utilities, communication servicesm TV licence and Council Tax
  • A default fee where required under a tenancy agreement

The Fifth Money Laundering Directive (5MLD)

On the 10th January 2020 5MLD will take effect in the UK. 5MLD makes changes to the previous UK regulations and will now bring letting agents into the scope of the Money Laundering Regulations for the first time. This means that letting agents will be required to assess certain tenancy agreements for their potential to be used as a mechanism for the proceeds of crime.

All tenancy agreements with a rent in excess of €10,000 per calendar month will now form part of the regulations. This means that lettings agents will be required to carry out “Know Your Customer” checks on landlords and tenants. “Know Your Customer” requires the checking of identification documents and confirmation of residency status, as well as verification that the tenancy is genuine and not set up to assist either the landlord or tenant to launder the proceeds of crime. Tenancies that fall within the scope of the regulations will require on-going monitoring to check that the initial conclusions regarding the money-laundering risk assessment remain unchanged throughout the whole term of the business relationship. Landlords and tenants who fall into this category of tenancy should therefore prepare themselves for additional questions and administration requirements.

More information on the Fifth Money Laundering Directive can be found on the .GOV website here.

Find your local Hunters branch

Hunters Estate and Letting Agents have a strong network of over 200 branches nationwide.

*The information on the Hunters 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.