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Rights and responsibilities of landlords and letting agents who rent out houses in the private rented sector. Report an issue with a tenant.
What duties do I have as a landlord or letting agent?
As a landlord or letting agent you must at the start of a tenancy:
Give the tenant your name and address.
Check your tenant has the right to rent your property if it’s in England.
Make sure all gas appliances and fittings are safe to use and provide the tenant with a copy of the annual gas safety record.
Have the property electrics checked at least every 5 years by a properly qualified person. The electrics must meet standards and landlords must give their tenants proof of this.
Provide the tenant with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property.
Protect your tenant’s deposit in a government approved scheme.
Ensure smoke alarms and if needed carbon monoxide alarms are fitted and working at the start of the tenancy.
Ensure the property is free from serious hazards. Renovation grants are no longer available but funding may be available to assist in first time gas central heating systems and air source heat pumps or energy efficiency improvements.
Give your tenant a copy of the 'How to rent' checklist when they start renting from you, a copy of which can be found on the GOV.UK website:
GOV.UK - How to rent (external website).
During a tenancy a landlord or letting agent must:
If your property is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), you may need to apply for an HMO licence from the council.
Further information on how to rent out a property can be found on the GOV.UK website:
The government guidance on 'Understanding and addressing the health risks of damp and mould in the home' has recently been published:
You can find further advice by visiting our condensation, damp and mould page.
What is the tenancy deposit protection scheme?
Since April 2007, the law has required landlords who let their property using an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) in England and Wales and who take deposits from tenants, to place or register the deposit with one of the three statutory tenancy deposit schemes (TDP). The government introduced the scheme to make sure a tenancy deposit is protected so that a tenant gets all or part of their deposit back, when they are entitled to it and that any disputes between tenant and landlord or agent will be easier to resolve.
Landlords who fail to use a tenancy deposit scheme not only lose the right to automatically regain possession of the property at the end of a tenancy but may also face a financial penalty.
At the beginning of a new tenancy agreement a landlord or agent must within 14 days give the tenant details about how the deposit is protected.
There are three authorised schemes which are available for landlords to use:
If a landlord hasn't protected a tenant's deposit or refuses to give details of the scheme he or she has used, a tenant can apply to a county court for an order to either pay back the deposit or to protect it in one of the TDP schemes.
Further information on the tenancy deposit scheme can be found on the GOV.UK website:
How do I evict a tenant?
A landlord or letting agent must follow strict procedures if they want a tenant to leave a property. The exact procedure will depend on the tenancy agreement and its terms. More information on the different types of tenancy agreements can be found on the GOV.UK website:
A landlord, or a person acting on his or her behalf, may be guilty of committing an illegal eviction if they:
do not give the tenant the proper notice to leave the property
change the locks to stop a tenant getting into the property
evict a tenant without a court order.
A landlord or letting agent may also be guilty of harassment if he or she does, or fails to do, anything that makes a tenant want to leave the property which includes:
cutting off services, like gas and electricity
visiting the property at unsociable hours
refusing to carry out repairs
starting but not finishing disruptive repairs or building work
trying to take away a tenants legal rights
being violent or threatening violence
opening a tenant's post or removing belongings.
A section 21 notice is the most commonly used way to begin the eviction process for tenants with an assured shorthold tenancy. You should use the prescribed 'form 6a: Notice seeking possession of a property let on an assured shorthold tenancy' if the tenancy was started or renewed after 30 September 2015 and give at least two months notice. You can also write your own Section 21 notice. A landlord cannot use a section 21 notice to evict a tenant during the fixed term of a contract and it cannot be served within the first four months of a tenancy.
A landlord doesn't have to give a reason for wanting a tenant to leave but must have given the tenant certain documents at the start of the tenancy and also have followed certain rules for protecting a tenancy deposit.
You can get legal advice on creating a notice and giving it to your tenants by finding a Solicitor at the Law Society website.
More information about ending a tenancy can be found on the GOV.UK website:
What is a retaliatory eviction?
Retaliatory eviction is where a tenant makes a legitimate complaint to their landlord about the condition of their property and, in response, instead of making the repair, the landlord serves them with a section 21 notice asking them to leave.
If a tenant has an assured shorthold tenancy or a renewal agreement which started on or after 1 October 2015 and is given a section 21 notice it will be invalid where all these apply:
before the section 21 notice was issued, the tenant made a complaint in writing either by email or letter to the landlord regarding the condition of the property. A tenant will be considered to have made a complaint if they did not know the landlords postal or email address, or had made reasonable efforts to contact the landlord to complain, but could not
the tenant then complained to the council about the same or a very similar issue
the council sent the landlord a housing improvement notice or emergency remedial action notice because the property was found, following a visit in response to the complaint, to have a serious health or safety hazard
and if the section 21 notice was not given before the tenant’s complaint to the council, it was given before the service of the relevant notice.
If the council serve a landlord with a relevant housing notice, a valid section 21 notice cannot be issued within six months of the council’s notice. A section 21 will be valid if it is served after 6 months have passed.
The situation does not apply where a landlord uses the section 8 court procedure for evicting a tenant. In order for a landlord to rely on the section 8 procedure, there are certain grounds that have to be met for example; where a tenant fails to pay the rent or has been involved in anti-social behaviour.
More information about retaliatory eviction can be found on the GOV.UK website:
How do I report an issue with my tenant?
Before reporting an issue please read the following guide on how to let a safe home and what to expect if you contact the council:
If a tenant is struggling with rent payments, the council's Welfare Visiting team may be able to offer advice:
The Universal Credit website now has a section to help landlords understand Universal Credit:
If a tenant is having difficulty paying their rent, you may be able to request payment of rent from their Universal Credit. Find out how to apply for a Direct Rent Payment on the GOV.UK website.
What are the letting agents and property managers redress schemes?
It is a requirement for all lettings agents and property managers in England to belong to one of two Government approved redress schemes. The schemes are designed to provide a free, independent service for resolving disputes between letting agents/property managers and their customers.
Letting agency work is described as things done by any person in the course of a business in response to instructions received from:
It does not include where a person only advertises the property for rent and arranges contact between tenants and prospective landlords.
Property management work means things done by a person in the course of business in response to instructions from another person who wants to arrange services, repair, maintenance, improvement, or insurance or to deal with any other aspect of the management of a residential property.
There are two redress schemes:
The council can impose a penalty charge notice of up to £5,000 where a lettings agent or property manager who should have joined a scheme has not done so.
Further information on the requirement for lettings agents and property managers in England to belong to a government-approved redress scheme can be found on the GOV.UK website:
What are the requirements about letting fees?
From 1 June 2019, the Tenant Fees Act came into force which prohibits landlords and agents from charging any fees to tenants, other than those 'permitted' by the Act and caps tenancy deposits paid by tenants. Any new or renewed tenancy agreement that is signed on or after 1 June 2019 must adhere to the new regulations. More information on the Tenants Act can be found at:
The Consumer Rights 2015 makes it a requirement for all letting agents to publicise their relevant fees.
The fees be must displayed at each of their offices and in a place which can be easily seen by their clients. Ideally, someone walking into an agent’s office should be able to see the list of fees without having to ask for it. The fees must also be published on the agent's website if they have one.
A description of each fee must be given to enable a person who is paying it to understand the service or cost that is covered by the fee or the purpose for which it is being charged.
In the case of a fee which tenants are liable to pay, an indication of whether the fee relates to each property or each tenant under a tenancy. The amount of each fee must include any applicable tax or, where the amount of a fee cannot reasonably be determined in advance, a description of how that fee is calculated.
If the agent holds money on behalf of persons to whom the agent provides services as part of that work, includes a duty to display or publish, with the list of fees, a statement of whether the agent is a member of a client money protection scheme.
If the letting agent is required to be a member of a redress scheme for dealing with complaints, there is also a requirement for them to display or publish, with the list of fees, a statement that:
indicates that the agent is a member of a redress scheme, and
gives the name of the scheme.
Enforcement of the regulations is the responsibility of the council and a penalty charge notice of up to £5,000 can be issued to letting agents who fail to comply.
Further information about the regulations can be found on the government's legislation website.
What are the smoke and carbon monoxide alarm regulations?
Since the 1 October 2015, the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations (England) 2015 have made it compulsory for landlords to fit a smoke alarm on every floor of their rented property, as well as a carbon monoxide alarm in every room containing a solid fuel burning appliance, for example, a coal fire or wood burning stove.
Landlords are required to check that alarms are working at the start of every new tenancy however it is the tenant's responsibility for the ongoing regular testing to ensure they are in working order and to notify the landlord if they identify any problems.
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (Amendment) Regulations 2022 will come into force on Saturday 1 October 2022. From that date, all relevant landlords must ensure:
Registered providers of social housing must ensure at least one smoke alarm is provided on each storey of their homes where there is a room used as living accommodation.
The government has produced a question and answer guide for tenants and landlords.
Enforcement of the regulations is the responsibility of the council and a remedial notice can be issued requiring the landlord to fit the alarms and a civil penalty charge of up to £5,000 can be issued to a landlord who fails to comply. A Statement of Principles outlining the council's civil penalty structure is available.
These regulations are not the only fire safety requirements that a rented property may be subject to. There are fire safety requirements under other legislation which may be applicable, such as the Housing Act 2004. Fire is one of the hazards identified by the housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS), which means landlords must assess the risk of fire in rented property and provide appropriate measures to minimise that risk.
If the property is a Houses in Multiple Occupation the level of fire detection as described above will not be sufficient and a combination of automatic fire detection and structural fire precautions will be necessary.
Why do I need an Energy Performance Certificate?
EPC F and G rated properties are the most energy inefficient houses and impose unnecessary energy costs on tenants and can lead to poor health outcomes. The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015 establish a minimum level of energy efficiency for privately rented property. It means that, since 1 April 2018, landlords of privately rented domestic property must ensure that their properties have an EPC rating of at least E before granting or renewing a tenancy. From the 1 April 2020, landlords will not be able to continue letting a property which is already let if that property has an EPC rating of F or G.
Landlords are required to take action to ensure their properties reach an EPC rating of E but where energy efficiency improvements are being installed they may choose to aim above this target to accommodate for future changes.
In certain circumstances, an exemption may be claimed and where a valid exemption applies, landlords must register on the PRS Exemptions Register.
Further information about the regulations can be found on the government's legislation website:
Since 1 October 2008 landlords, or their agents, have needed to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) whenever a home in the social or private rented sector is let to a new tenant. Landlords, or their agents, must make an EPC available, free of charge, to prospective tenants at the earliest opportunity. This should be when they are first given written information about the property or view it, and before any rental contract is entered into. An EPC is not required for any property that was occupied before 1 October 2008 and which continues to be occupied after that date by the same tenant.
The council is proactively investigating offences in relation to MEES and will continue to monitor the EPC rating of rental properties. It is an offence to rent out a non compliant property (with a F or G rating) unless an exemption is registered.
The council is encouraging all landlords and their agents to act by considering a current in date certificate, or commissioning an up-to-date Energy Performance Certificate, which will identify the current rating (which may have changed if any energy efficiency works have been undertaken), and which will list what remedial works can be undertaken to ensure that your property meets the current MEES regulations.
Please be aware that whilst the property may meet the current minimum standard the Government is currently looking at increasing the minimum standard that private rented properties must meet.
To discuss or seek advice on your property please contact us on: email@example.com
Government grants may be available. For further information please visit: gov.uk/improve-energy-efficiency (external website)
Where a property fails to meet minimum standards, landlords must register an exemption to comply with the MEES regulations, despite the property not meeting this minimum standard. If this authority believes a landlord has failed to fulfil their obligations under the MEES Regulations, officers can issue a fixed penalty and/or also serve the landlord with a compliance notice.
For this authority, the following penalties will apply per property per breach of the regulations:
The government has produced a guide to energy performance certificates.
Only accredited domestic energy assessors and home inspectors can produce an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). If you use an independent energy assessor make sure they are a current member of an accreditation scheme, as this ensures your energy assessor is operating to professional standards. An EPC is only authentic if issued by an accredited Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA).
Details of accredited DEA’s can be found at the Energy Performance Register.
What is Right to Rent?
The Immigration Act 2014 has introduced the requirement that landlords letting private rented accommodation to new tenants must check their immigration status before allowing them to rent a property. From 1 February 2016, every landlord in the UK has been required to carry out these checks. Checks are required to all new tenants:
- who are 18 years old or over
- where it is their main or only residence.
Tenants fall into three categories:
unlimited right to rent in the UK
time limited right to rent in the UK (landlords are required to carry out reviews of the immigration status throughout the term of the tenancy)
no right to rent in the UK (landlords should not rent to anyone in this category).
Copies of the tenant’s identification will need to be kept securely by the landlord throughout the tenancy. If a landlord allows a disqualified person to rent a property they can be issued with a penalty notice of £3,000.
Further information on how to check a tenant's right to rent can be found on the GOV.UK website:
Many landlords are confused about what impact Brexit will have on their business and tenants, with one of the most confusing issues being around Right to Rent Checks. To help the Government have released some advice on the GOV.UK website:
What are the risks and landlord responsibilities with Legionnaires Disease?
Legionnaires disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia caused by the inhalation of small droplets of contaminated water. All man-made hot and cold water systems can provide an environment where Legionella can grow. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires that every landlord has a duty to carry out a risk assessment to ensure that their tenants are not exposed to health and safety risks which include a legionella risk assessment.
It does not always require an in-depth detailed assessment. The risks from hot and cold water systems in most residential dwellings are generally considered to be low owing to regular use. An example of a low-risk property would include a small house with domestic-type water systems where water is used daily, cold water is used directly from a mains supply (no water storage tanks) and hot water is fed from instantaneous heaters (supplying outlets at 50 degrees Celsius) and the outlets only include toilets and wash hand basins.
Implementing simple, proportionate and appropriate control measures will ensure the risk remains low. For most domestic hot and cold water systems, the temperature is the most reliable way of ensuring the risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria is minimised i.e. keep the hot water hot, cold water cold and keep it moving. Other simple control measures to help control the risk of exposure to Legionella include:
flushing out the system prior to letting the property
avoiding debris getting into the system
setting control parameters (eg set the temperature of the hot water cylinder to ensure water is stored at 60 degrees Celsius)
make sure any redundant pipework is removed.
Tenants should be advised of any control measures put in place that should be maintained and tenants should inform the landlord if the hot water is not heating properly or there are any other problems with the system so that appropriate action can be taken.
In most cases, the actions landlords need to take are simple and straightforward so compliance does not need to be burdensome or costly. Most landlords can assess the risk themselves and do not need to be professionally trained or accredited; but if they do not feel competent, or inclined to do so, they can arrange for someone who is to do it on their behalf.
Further information on Legionnaires' disease can be found on the Health and Safety Executive website:
Can the council help me find a tenant for my empty property?
If you are a landlord with an empty property, you may be able to get help to find a tenant.
Please email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org and a referral will be made to the council’s tenant mediation officer, who will see if anyone from the council housing waiting list might be suitable for your property. Once we have found a possible tenant we will contact you with their details.
What are civil penalties for Housing Act offences?
The Housing and Planning Act 2016 provides powers that permit local authorities to impose a civil penalty of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution for a range of offences under the Housing Act 2004, and where a landlord or property agent has breached a banning order under the Housing and Planning Act 2016.
Civil penalties for certain housing offences came into force on 6 April 2017. The guidance has been updated to reflect that from 6 April 2018 a civil penalty can also be imposed for breach of a banning order. These are for offences detailed in Housing Act 2004 Section 249a, and will be issued in accordance with the council's Civil Penalty Policy for Housing Offences:
What are the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector Regulations 2020?
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on 1st June 2020. These regulations apply in England only to:
These regulations impose duties on private landlords of residential premises in England in respect of electrical safety standards. The duties do not apply to landlords of social housing. The regulations require local housing authorities to enforce the duties and include a power to arrange remedial action and the council may also impose a financial penalty of up to £30000 on landlords who are in breach of their duties. The issuing of civil penalties and the level of penalty imposed will be determined in accordance with the council's Civil Penalty Policy for Housing Offences.
Further information about the how the Electrical Safety Standard Regulations affect landlords can be found at the GOV.UK website:
How do I sign up to the councils landlord newsletter?
The council periodically produce a newsletter sent by email packed with up to date content for landlords and letting agents. To automatically receive the latest copy of the latest newsletter simply email Private.Sector.Housing@eastriding.gov.uk.