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Landlords

Advice for landlords during the Coronavirus outbreak

Government measures to protect renters and landlords Toggle accordion

The government has introduced a number of measures to protect renters and landlords affected by coronavirus.

These measures have evolved as the pandemic has progressed and information is available on the government website at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-and-renting-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities

Landlord property inspections during Coronavirus outbreak Toggle accordion

We have received enquiries about routine property inspections, of HMOs in particular, in light of the current situation with Coronavirus.

Each situation must be considered on a case-by-case basis, but we have set out some overarching advice and provided links to trusted sources of information.

Whilst you have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to ensure that your properties are legally compliant, you also have a duty to protect yourself, your staff and your tenants.

The government has advised us to stop non-essential contact with others and all unnecessary travel.

This would include full routine inspections of properties; however inspections of the common parts of HMOs, for example to ensure that the fire precautions are working, may be possible without the need to come into contact with the tenants if these are done by prior appointment.

In all cases, the recommended hygiene practices should be followed: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-covid-19

Inspections of properties and the undertaking of necessary remedial works where tenants are exhibiting symptoms should only be undertaken in response to emergency situations, and in accordance with the recommended hygiene practices.

Whilst not an exhaustive list, we would recommend that you consider the advice below. This is a fast moving situation; please make sure you check back regularly to ensure the advice hasn’t changed.

https://www.propertymark.co.uk/working-in-the-industry/covid-19/

https://news.rla.org.uk/coronavirus-what-should-i-do/

https://landlords.org.uk/news-campaigns/news/coronavirus-what-do-landlords-need-know

https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/coronavirus.htm?utm_source=hse.gov.uk&utm_medium=refferal&utm_campaign=coronavirus&utm_content=home-page-banner#

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance

Rent and housing benefit

Rent – The Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate Toggle accordion

Should your tenant receive benefits towards paying rent, we recommend that as a landlord you set the rent as close to the LHA rate as possible. This makes the property affordable for your tenant. It also decreases the possibility of the tenant facing financial difficulties including unpaid rent to yourself.

You can check the LHA rate for your property at:

Local Housing Allowance rates

Rent benefit payments Toggle accordion

Once the tenancy has been signed, eligible tenants should make an application for Housing Benefit or Universal Credit Housing Support to set up their benefit payments. Benefit assessments can take 4-6 weeks to process, and the rent benefit payments for tenancies will be backdated to the start date of the tenancy. These benefits are paid 4 weekly in arrears. 

Keeping rent statements Toggle accordion

As a landlord we recommend you keep a track of your rental payments, whether owed or received. It is good practice to supply your tenant with a statement every 6 months so they are aware of their rent payments.

Safety regulations and certificates

Electrical safety standards in the private rented sector Toggle accordion

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 make it compulsory for landlords to have the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested by a qualified electrician at least once every five years (or sooner if recommended by the electrician) and to keep a copy of the inspection report.

This report must be provided to a tenant before occupancy, to any current tenant within 28 days of the test, and to the council if requested.

Where further investigation or remedial work are required by the report this must be carried out within 28 days of obtaining the report (or a lesser period if specified in the report), and must then obtain written confirmation from the electrician that the work has been carried out.  Landlords must provide written confirmation that the work has been carried out, along with the original inspection report, to each tenant and to the council within 28 days.

If the Council requests a copy of the inspection report, it must be provided within 7 days.

Where inspection reports are required to be sent to the Council or have been requested by the Council these should be sent to the Private Sector Housing Team at privatesectorhousing@stalbans.gov.uk.

Failure to comply with the regulations could lead to further action and a fine of up to £30,000 per offence.

More information and guidance on the regulations can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/electrical-safety-standards-in-the-private-rented-sector-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities

Information on electrical safety and finding a qualified electrician can be found at:

https://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/find-an-electrician/

The electrical equipment (safety) regulations [1994] Toggle accordion

Electrical supply and any appliances you supply within your property must be safe. We recommend that you inspect electrical appliances annually and keep a record of the checks that you carry out. Smoke alarms should also be fitted in all let properties and checked regularly to make sure they are in full working order. 

The plugs and sockets (safety) regulations [1994] (Consumer Protection Act [1987]) Toggle accordion

Any plugs, sockets and adaptors that you supply in your property must comply with the appropriate current regulations.

The smoke and carbon monoxide alarm regulations [2015] Toggle accordion

Since 1st October 2015, private sector landlords have been required to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their properties and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire, wood burning stove).

Landlords must also make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.

Where properties are found to missing detectors the Council will serve a remedial notice on the landlord requiring them to be provided.

If a landlord fails to comply with a remedial notice the Council must do the works themselves and may serve a penalty charge notice of up to £5,000.

More information can be found in the Smoke and carbon monoxide: alarms explanatory booklet for landlords.

The furniture and furnishings (fire) (safety) regulations [1988] Toggle accordion

It is an offence to install any furniture in let properties which does not comply with the regulations. Furniture with stuffing, springs, cushions and covering fabric must have fire resistant filling material and pass a cigarette resistance test. Labelling on furniture will often confirm compliance with these regulations.

Gas safety certificates and checks Toggle accordion

Landlords are legally responsible for ensuring the gas appliances in their properties are safe and fit for purpose. As a Landlord, you have 3 main responsibilities:

  • Maintenance – you must ensure that gas appliances are maintained and kept safe for use.

  • Gas safety checks – an annual gas safety check must be carried out on every gas appliance.

  • Record keeping – you must provide a record of the annual gas safety certificate to your tenant within 28 days of the check, or to new tenants before they move in to the property. You must keep your gas safety records for 2 years. These checks must be carried out by a registered Gas Safe engineer.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Toggle accordion

Landlords must provide a valid EPC when they let a property. The EPC is valid for 10 years and may be reused for as many times as required until it expires. The EPC provides a rating for the energy performance of your property. This rating ranges from A to G, where A is very efficient. All properties let by private sector landlords will need to have an EPC rating of E or above – some exceptions do apply.

See domestic private rented property minimum energy efficiency standard landlord guidance for more information.

Tenancies and notices

Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST) and periodic tenancies Toggle accordion

The AST determines how much rent the tenant will pay. It will state how long the tenancy lasts, and who is responsible for repairs.

End of the fixed term Toggle accordion

After the initial fixed term, the landlord and tenant have the opportunity to renew the fixed term period. If not renewed, then the tenancy will become ongoing (periodic) until either landlord or tenant serves a notice of termination. 

Ending a tenancy Toggle accordion

You must follow strict procedures if you want your tenant to leave your property. For information on ending tenancies, please see: www.gov.uk/evicting-tenants

Further information

Government guidance Toggle accordion

This guidance is aimed at non-specialists, in particular private landlords, to help them understand the requirements under the Housing Act [2004] and help them identify the type of work that is needed on their properties to conform with the HHSRS.

Hertfordshire’s Better Business for All partnership Toggle accordion

Hertfordshire’s Better Business for All partnership has produced a guide for landlords.

External links Toggle accordion

Do you have a property to let?   

Here at St Albans City & District Council we have our own internal lettings service, called Mosaic Lettings.

Mosaic logo