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Advice for Private Landlords

Tuesday , September , 28 2021
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ELECTRICAL SAFETY

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) 2020 require that landlords have 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.

For further information visit the GOV.uk website

PRIVATE HOUSING SMOKE AND CARBON MONOXIDE REGULATIONS

On 1 October 2015 the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 came into force.

Smoke alarms

Smoke inhalation is the most common cause of death in house fires. Fires starting in homes without working smoke detectors are twice as likely to result in fatalities. Working smoke detectors will reduce the length of time taken for a fire to be discovered and therefore increase the likelihood of escape.

Landlords have a legal duty to ensure that there is a working smoke alarm on each storey of a premises where one or more rooms are used as living accommodation.

Checks must be made by the landlord, or on behalf of the landlord, to ensure that the alarms are working at the beginning of each new tenancy.

Carbon monoxide alarms

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless gas which can kill quickly with minimal prior symptoms by reducing the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. The Fire Service advise that approximately 50 people die every year in the UK from CO poisoning as a result of poorly installed or maintained fuel burning appliances.

Landlords have a legal duty to install a carbon monoxide alarm in any room of the premises which is used as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance. Solid fuel burning combustion appliances include: coal fires, wood fires, wood burning stoves, pellet boilers and biomass boilers.

Checks must be made by the landlord, or on behalf of the landlord, to ensure that the alarms are working at the beginning of each new tenancy.

Action we will take

If we believe that the landlord has not supplied a working smoke alarm on each storey of living accommodation, and/ or has not supplied a CO alarm where necessary, we have a duty to serve a remedial notice under the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.

More information

For further information visit the GOV.uk website.  

ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN PRIVATELY RENTED HOMES

There are new rules around the energy efficiency of privately rented homes and Energy Performance Certificates. We are able to offer advice on how to stay within the law and improve the energy efficiency. Below is some of the key information private landlords, agents and tenants need to know.

What is an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)?

An EPC provides potential buyers and tenants with a sign of the energy efficiency of a property. The certificate will contain information about:

  • The property's typical energy costs.
  • Recommend ways to reduce energy use to make the property more energy efficient.

See an example of an EPC (PDF: 209 Kb / 4 pages) on GOV.UK.

To get an EPC to contact an accredited energy assessor. They will assess the property, produce a certificate and load it onto the national database for a fee.

Find an assessor on the Energy Performance Certificate Register.

An EPC gives a property an energy efficiency rating from an A (most efficient) to a G (least efficient). Once issued, an EPC is valid for 10 years.

How do the rules affect privately rented properties?

All privately rented properties need to have an Energy Performance Certificate. It is an offence not to provide the tenant with an EPC at the beginning of a tenancy. It is not possible to serve a Section 21 to end an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, where a deposit has been paid, if the tenant has not been given an EPC or a gas safety certificate. Regulations aim to improve the energy efficiency of privately rented properties.

What are Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES)?

The Government wants to improve the energy efficiency of all buildings, both commercial and domestic. They have introduced specific targets for the private rented sector, which is generally less energy efficient than it could be. The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards mean that:

  • From 1 April 2018 any new tenancy must not be granted if the Energy Performance indicator is less than an 'E' (unless a specified exemption applies).
  • From 1 April 2020 no property should be let if the Energy Performance indicator is less than an 'E' (unless a specified exemption applies).
  • A landlord cannot refuse a tenants reasonable request for the installation of energy efficiency measures.

We are able to offer advice to tenants and landlords about the energy efficiency of their rented properties through our Homelife team [link]

What should you do as a landlord?

As a landlord you must ensure all your properties have a valid EPC.

Check if your property has a registered EPC on EPC Register website.

Properties with older EPCs might have already undergone work to meet the standards. Thus the current EPC may no longer reflect the energy efficiency of the property. Landlords should check their EPCs and consider renewals if they have undertaken the appropriate works.

Landlords should consider planning for 2020, or the next change of tenant. This can be done by reviewing the recommendations for their EPC that will suggest ways to improve the rating.

Improvements can include:

  • Boiler renewal
  • Installation of radiator thermostats
  • Upgrade and install loft insulation
  • Install cavity wall insulation
  • Upgrade windows
  • Install energy efficient light bulbs

Go to the Simple Energy Advice website to find helpful advice on improving the energy efficiency of your property.

Is my property exempt from the scheme?

There are several reasons where a property can be exempt from the regulations. Landlords must register this exemption and provide supporting evidence. Exemptions are defined as:

  • High cost exemptions
  • 7-year payback exemptions
  • All improvements made exemptions
  • Wall insulation exemptions
  • Consent exemptions
  • Devaluation exemptions
  • New landlord exemptions

Go to register an exemption on www.gov.uk, a service is for landlords to register a property as exempt from the private rented property minimum standards.

Before registering an exemption please contact us. We may be able to help on improving the energy efficiency before you register an exemption.

If you are a landlord and you own a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), you may need a HMO licence. A HMO is a building or a part of a building (such as a flat) that is occupied by more than two persons living as more than one household.
Not all HMOs need to be licensed – see frequently asked questions below:

Applying for a HMO Licence

If you think you have a property that needs to be licensed, please contact Environmental Health, at the City Council on 01228 817316 or e-mail [email protected]. We will take your name, address, and an application pack will be forwarded to you. Alternatively, you can download the application from the link below for completion and return to Carlisle City Council.

Application Form for a HMO Licence (see downloads)

Application Fee

Landlords will have to pay a fee to cover the cost of the licence procedure. The fee has now been set at £567.00 for 2020/21 for up to 10 letting rooms, with each additional let being charged at £10.80. A maximum fee of £950 applies. Once a licence has been granted, a licence will normally last for five years, although it can be for a shorter period. To renew an existing licence the fee will be £356.00 (per 8 letting units) with an additional £10.80 for additional units.

Public Register of HMO licences

The council maintain a public register of all HMO licences, together with any temporary exemption notices served and details of any interim or final management orders made.

You can find out if a property has a licence, or is applying for a licence, or you can get a full version of the public register of HMO licenses by e-mailing us at Contact Environmental Health @carlisle.gov.uk or by phoning us on 01228 817316.

A restricted electronic version of the public register of HMO licences is now available from the Council and is available upon request.

The full version of the Public Register, which includes the landlords details, can only be viewed by attending the office as indicated above.

1. Do all HMOs have to be licensed?

Under the Act. There are three types of property, which need to be licensed.

  1. Mandatory licensing - of properties that are;
    • Three or more storeys high (This criteria was removed with effect from 1st April 2018)
    • Have five or more people in more than one household, and
    • Share amenities such as bathrooms, toilets and cooking facilities.
  2. Additional Licensing - HMOs

A discretionary power that councils may decide to apply to a particular type of HMO, for example, to include an existing registration scheme.

Selective licensing - of other residential accommodation.
Properties that are not subject to HMO licensing could be covered under a selective licensing scheme. This where the Council may declare that certain areas, for example, where there is low demand for housing or issues with anti-social behaviour, maybe appropriate to selective licensing.Under the Act. There are three types of property, which need to be licensed.

  1. Mandatory licensing - of properties that are;
    • Three or more storeys high (This criteria was removed with effect from 1st April 2018)
    • Have five or more people in more than one household, and
    • Share amenities such as bathrooms, toilets and cooking facilities.
  2. Additional Licensing - HMOs

A discretionary power that councils may decide to apply to a particular type of HMO, for example, to include an existing registration scheme.

  1. Selective licensing - of other residential accommodation.
    Properties that are not subject to HMO licensing could be covered under a selective licensing scheme. This where the Council may declare that certain areas, for example, where there is low demand for housing or issues with anti-social behaviour, maybe appropriate to selective licensing.

2. Fit and Proper Person

The Council will carry out checks to make sure that the person applying for a licence is a Fit and Proper Person. The following will be taken into account when making this assessment;

  • Any previous convictions relating to drugs, fraud, sexual offences or violence.
  • If the proposed licence holder has committed any offences relating to housing or tenant law.
  • The proposed licence holder has been found guilty of any unlawful discrimination.
  • If the proposed licence holder has broken any previous HMO Code of Practice.

If a person does not meet the conditions set and the landlord is not a Fit and Proper Person, then the Council may refuse to grant a licence.The Council will carry out checks to make sure that the person applying for a licence is a Fit and Proper Person. The following will be taken into account when making this assessment;

  • Any previous convictions relating to drugs, fraud, sexual offences or violence.
  • If the proposed licence holder has committed any offences relating to housing or tenant law.
  • The proposed licence holder has been found guilty of any unlawful discrimination.
  • If the proposed licence holder has broken any previous HMO Code of Practice.

If a person does not meet the conditions set and the landlord is not a Fit and Proper Person, then the Council may refuse to grant a licence.

3. Interim Management Order (IMO)

If a landlord fails to bring an HMO up to the required standard, or fails to meet the Fit and Proper Person criteria, the Council can take over the management of the property. Under the Act an Interim Management Order (IMO), allows the Local Authority to manage the property for up to a year, until suitable management arrangements have been made. The owner does keep their right as an owner. If the IMO expires and no improvement in management has been made, then the Council can issue a Final Management Order (FMO). This can last up to five years and be renewed following this period.If a landlord fails to bring an HMO up to the required standard, or fails to meet the Fit and Proper Person criteria, the Council can take over the management of the property. Under the Act an Interim Management Order (IMO), allows the Local Authority to manage the property for up to a year, until suitable management arrangements have been made. The owner does keep their right as an owner. If the IMO expires and no improvement in management has been made, then the Council can issue a Final Management Order (FMO). This can last up to five years and be renewed following this period.

4. How does Licensing work?

Anyone who owns or manages an HMO, that maybe subject to licensing, must apply to the Council for a licence.

The Council must grant a licence, if it is satisfied that:

  • The proposed licence holder is a Fit and Proper Person.
  • The HMO is suitable for occupation for the number of persons allowed on the licence.
  • The proposed licence holder is the correct person to hold the licence
  • The proposed management of the property is satisfactory.
  • The financial structures for the management are suitable.

Applications will be processed by the Council within six months of receipt, however, you will receive an acknowledgement letter to confirm receipt of your application.Anyone who owns or manages an HMO, that maybe subject to licensing, must apply to the Council for a licence.

The Council must grant a licence, if it is satisfied that:

  • The proposed licence holder is a Fit and Proper Person.
  • The HMO is suitable for occupation for the number of persons allowed on the licence.
  • The proposed licence holder is the correct person to hold the licence
  • The proposed management of the property is satisfactory.
  • The financial structures for the management are suitable.

Applications will be processed by the Council within six months of receipt, however, you will receive an acknowledgement letter to confirm receipt of your application.

5. Penalties for operating without a Licence

It is an offence if the landlord or person in control of the property;

  • Fails to apply for a licence for a licensable property
  • Allows a property to be occupied by more than are permitted under the licence.

A fine of up to £20,000 maybe imposed. In addition, contravening any of the licence conditions can result in fines of up to £5,000.It is an offence if the landlord or person in control of the property;

  • Fails to apply for a licence for a licensable property
  • Allows a property to be occupied by more than are permitted under the licence.

A fine of up to £20,000 maybe imposed. In addition, contravening any of the licence conditions can result in fines of up to £5,000.

6. Rent Repayment Order

A tenant living in a property that should have been licensed, but was not, can apply to the Residential Property Tribunal (RPT) to claim back any rent they have paid during the unlicensed period.A tenant living in a property that should have been licensed, but was not, can apply to the Residential Property Tribunal (RPT) to claim back any rent they have paid during the unlicensed period.

7. Temporary Exemption from Licensing

If a landlord or person in control of a property intends to stop operating it as an HMO or reduces the number of occupants and can be give clear evidence of this, then they can apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice. This lasts for a maximum of three months and ensures that a property in the process of being converted from an HMO no longer needs to be licensed. If this situation is not resolved, then a second Temporary Exemption can be granted.If a landlord or person in control of a property intends to stop operating it as an HMO or reduces the number of occupants and can be give clear evidence of this, then they can apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice. This lasts for a maximum of three months and ensures that a property in the process of being converted from an HMO no longer needs to be licensed. If this situation is not resolved, then a second Temporary Exemption can be granted.

8. What is an HMO?

  • A dwelling will be an HMO if three or more unrelated people are sharing facilities
  • Buildings comprising non self contained flats are HMOs
  • Houses converted to self contained flats before 1991 and not in accordance with the 1991 building regulations will be HMOs
  • A self contained flat converted to 1991 Building Regulations or later if occupied by more than three unrelated persons will be an HMO

The change in definition particularly impacts on smaller shared houses, those occupied by students, which have been brought back into the HMO definition.

Amenity Standards in Licensable Houses in Multiple Occupation (see downloads)

LACORS Fire and Safety Guidance (see downloads)

  • 457 A dwelling will be an HMO if three or more unrelated people are sharing facilities
  • Buildings comprising non self contained flats are HMOs
  • Houses converted to self contained flats before 1991 and not in accordance with the 1991 building regulations will be HMOs
  • A self contained flat converted to 1991 Building Regulations or later if occupied by more than three unrelated persons will be an HMO

The change in definition particularly impacts on smaller shared houses, those occupied by students, which have been brought back into the HMO definition.

Amenity Standards in Licensable Houses in Multiple Occupation (see downloads)

LACORS Fire and Safety Guidance (see downloads)

9. Why are larger HMOs being licensed?

Larger HMOs, such as bedsits and shared houses, are often linked to poorer physical and management standards than other private rented property. The people who live in HMOs are amongst the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of society. As HMOs are the only housing option for many people, the government has recognised that it is vital that these properties are effectively regulated.

Landlord Foundation Course - NLA Accredited Status

Carlisle City Council together with the national Landlords Association is organising a one-day course which outlines all you need to know from start to finish of a tenancy.  

Link to Landlord Foundation Course

You could get a penalty charge notice if you don’t join a redress scheme

For detailed guidance, please see Lettings agents and property managers: redress schemes on gov.uk

If you are a tenant and have concerns regarding a local agent or property manager under this scheme, then please contact the Private Sector Housing Team.

You can find a PDF of the Enforcement policy in the downloadable documents section a little lower down the page.

This A to Z of services list provides links to service pages alphabetically

Useful FAQ