The legal checks EVERY landlord in York must comply with

With increasing numbers of people preparing to invest in the UK’s buy to let sector not every landlord in York will be aware of the legal obligations that come with having tenants in their rental property.

And there are a lot of obligations!

The main reason for so much legislation is to ensure the landlord provides a home for tenants that is safe and secure.

This health and safety element is often overlooked by landlords who are new to the BTL sector and it covers things like slippery floors and carpets, and potential electrical problems for instance.

However, the most important legislation for landlords is around safety.

Landlord in York? Make sure you know the law

It is vital that all gas appliances on a property, and that will include the boiler, piping, fittings and flues are not only installed safely but are maintained and checked annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

The annual safety check will result in a gas safety certificate – the CP12 – being presented.

Landlords must also give a new tenant a copy of the CP12 either before they move in or within 28 days of them moving in.

Enforcement of the gas safety laws is stringent and landlords failing to comply with them are liable for heavy fines and, potentially, imprisonment.

The situation regarding electrical safety in a landlord’s property is a little bit more different than that for gas.

Essentially, the rules surround either electrical appliances, i.e. white goods, or fixed installations such as a light fittings and switches.

Electrical laws for the landlord in York

The landlord is held legally responsible for ensuring that their property is safe for a tenant and this includes any electrical appliances that have been supplied by the landlord.

This means that they must ensure that the electrical installation is safe for a tenant – and that it remains that way throughout the tenancy.

However, if a landlord has a house in multiple occupation – also known as an HMO – then they must legally have a qualified electrician inspect the property ‘periodically’.

There is no defined term within the law but many within the landlord sector tend to carry out an inspection every five years. This advice is also backed by the Electrical Safety Council.

HMO properties also have additional legal requirements that must be complied with. For instance, fire alarms must work and fire escapes must be free from obstruction.

Another important issue for landlords to consider is the safety of furnishings and fire.

If the property is to be furnished then any soft furnishings must be fire safe – that means they must comply with UK fire safety standards.

Many landlords supply fire alarms for their properties but stipulate in the tenancy agreement that the tenant is responsible for ensuring the batteries are replaced when necessary.

What landlords are responsible for

There is also some confusion from landlords new to letting about what repairs they are responsible for.

Essentially, landlords are liable for repairing the exterior and the property structure as well as any sanitary items such as baths and sinks. This also includes drains and pipes but not necessarily the property’s shower.

A landlord is also responsible for the electrical wiring, the heating system and provision of hot water. Landlords are also liable for any gas appliances, flues, pipes and ventilation – and for any damage that they cause through attempting a repair.

A recent legal requirement is for tenants to be provided with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) by their landlord before they move into a rental property.

This certificate will detail how much energy the property will be using and what the environmental costs are.

Non-compliance of this law to provide the EPC is quite serious and could lead to a fine of up to £5,000.

Landlords new to the BTL sector should also be aware that the criteria for all rental properties to meet a minimum level of E on the EPC will come into force from 2018.

This means that any properties that house tenants that are deemed to have energy performances of F and G will be illegal.

Other important considerations for landlords

It should also be noted that from 2016 a landlord cannot refuse a tenant’s reasonable request to improve a property’s insulation and heating standards.

Another important aspect that many new landlords, especially ‘accidental landlords’, is that they need to register their tenant’s deposit in an officially recognised tenancy deposit scheme.

There are three Government-backed schemes available and a landlord must deposit their tenant’s money with one of the schemes within 30 days of receiving it.

This is been the law since 2007 and was brought in to protect tenants from rogue landlords and from those landlords who want to withhold a deposit for a repairing damage.

Should there be a dispute when a tenant leaves and a landlord wants to make a deduction, an independent party will arbitrate in the dispute though the landlord should be aware that fair wear and tear is not a reason to make a deduction.

It’s also important that landlords understand that failure to place their tenant’s deposit securely in an officially recognised scheme could result in a heavy fine.

Those are the legal obligations that landlords today face but there are other issues that they should also bear in mind.

The first is to keep records of all work done including receipts for any items that have been bought or repaired as well as keeping guarantees and certificates in a safe place. A record of the rent paid should also be kept.

Many landlords find it useful to use an inventory firm – or you could do this yourself – to detail everything in the property and its condition and state. This needs to be done when the tenant checks-in and once again when the tenant checks-out.

The inventory is an accurate and independently taken record which could prove invaluable should there be a dispute when the tenant leaves and demands their deposit be returned.

What a landlord in York needs to consider

Is also a good idea for landlords to have the right insurance cover – be aware that general household insurance policies will not cover you for tenants living in your property.

Also, if you are planning on converting a property to house more than one tenant it may be considered as an HMO which means it will have to be registered with the local authority. As the landlord you will be liable for other legal obligations, particularly fire safety regulations.

You will also need planning permission to convert a property into a HMO from your local authority (who also monitor how it is run in the future).

Also be aware that if you carry out any building work, you may be liable for approval for building regulations – these are not the same as planning permission – and have to be applied for.

And finally, while this article is aimed at flagging up the legal obligations for every landlord we also touched upon the fact that a number of people with no previous letting experience are becoming landlords.

This next piece of advice is aimed at them and for those accidental landlords – that is someone who did not set out to become a landlord but was either unable to sell a property or inherited a property that they want to rent out – and that is be careful about the permissions you need for letting.

If there is a mortgage on the property you will need permission from the mortgage company and you will also need permission if it’s a leasehold property.

As York’s leading letting agent we would be more than happy to discuss what we can do for you to ensure your rental property is run as smoothly – and legally! – as is possible.

 

The experts at Redmove can offer help and advice on all aspects of renting out a property in York and can help you manage it effectively. We can also advise and help investors buy an investment property in the area – call us to discuss any aspect of the legal obligations of landlords on (01904) 488444.

Main image: York Minster by Michael D Beckwith


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