As a landlord, you’ll likely already be aware of pieces of compliance you should be in line with to ensure your investment is as well protected as possible.
Not to mention avoiding hefty fines and even possible imprisonment!
I’ll discuss the mandatory items of compliance you should be adhering to keep you from sinking into the huge ocean of compliance.
Consent To Let
The definition is just as it’s shown, it’s the consent given to let your property.
This won’t be applicable if you’ve got a dedicated buy-to-let mortgage, as this will entail giving consent already.
Depending on your mortgage company they’ll have certain criteria to be met before they give you consent to let to meet the compliance requirement.
The process varies depending on who your lender is, the type of mortgage you have, and how long you’ve been with them.
Some lenders charge a fee, and others don’t. In many cases, we’ve seen a slight increase in the interest rate on the remainder of repayments however so bear this in mind.
If you don’t obtain consent, and still continue to let your property, you’ll be in breach of your mortgage contract. You may get threatened with repossession, face penalty charges, receive backdated interest payment charges and others.
Leasehold – Getting The Freeholder’s Consent
Gaining the freeholder’s consent should usually be a formality and can’t be unreasonably refused.
Expect a small charge for giving this consent.
However, following this consent, they may be making enquiries following to ensure there aren’t any complaints from neighbours following a tenant’s move-in.
In the unlikely case, your request is denied, have a look at what your lease says about granting permission, and seek reasoning as to why it was refused by the freeholders.
If you’re found in breach of your lease, the freeholders are in a position to seek legal proceedings for breach of contract.
A Valid EPC (Energy Performance Certificate)
Since October 2008 all rented properties in England and Wales required an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate).
Followed on 1st April 2018 the (MEES) Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards were introduced, meaning all properties sold or let in England and Wales have been meeting the minimum rating of ‘E’ or above.
And to be introduced in 2025, all rental properties under a new tenancy will have to meet an EPC rating of ‘C’ or above, if already tenanted, landlords will have until 2028 to make improvements to meet this requirement.
Lasting ten years, it’s something that can be done, and not worry about for ten years.
With a fine of £5000, raising to £30,000 in 2025 if you don’t have a valid EPC, it’s something you’ll definitely want to keep on top of in regards to compliance.
A Valid EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report)
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 were officially brought in on 1st April 2020.
In July 2020, all new tenancies required an EICR. And then as of 1st April 2021, this requirement applied to all tenancies – new and existing.
The inspection report is to be re-done and re-tested at regular intervals, usually around every five years (unless the report states for it to be done sooner).
Get a report from the qualified person carrying out the inspection and test, which includes the results of the inspection and test and the date of the next one.
A copy of this should also be supplied to the tenant that is either living at or is due to be moving into the property to ensure you’re meeting compliance in this process!
If found in breach of the duties set out by the regulations, you’ll be served a remedial notice which you’ll have to carry out works to rectify.
Further to this, if you’ve been found beyond reasonable doubt that you’ve breached your duties under the regulations, you could be faced with a notice of intent to be imposed a financial penalty, of anything up to £30,000 for not meeting this compliance aspect!
The Gas Safety Regulations (Installation and Use) 1998 place legal duties on landlords and letting agents to ensure the safety of gas fittings and appliances in rental properties.
Including maintaining the safety of gas appliances, pipework leading to said gas appliances, and flues from gas appliances.
With certificates lasting 12 months, it is a regular item to keep on top of. This is a relatively short space of time apart, so landlords will have the option to renew the gas safety record up to two months prior to the ‘expiry’ date.
This way you won’t lose any of the validity periods of the existing record.
You should provide tenants with an up-to-date copy of the Gas Safety record within 28 days of it being conducted, or new tenants before they move in.
The local authority takes gas safety incredible seriously – as they should. So, ensure you’re meeting compliance thresholds and have provided your tenant with the correct document.
Not doing so could land you with hefty fines and/or banning orders.
For alerting of smoke and/or fire within the property, a potentially life-saving tool.
Landlords must ensure there is at least one smoke alarm on each floor of an individual property, and that they are tested and proven to work before a tenant is due to move in.
Tenants will remain responsible for frequently testing them, and it would be a wise move to guide tenants on the expectations of how often to test the equipment.
If at any point the smoke alarm is faulty, it is the landlord’s responsibility to rectify this with urgency.
Tenants are advised to change the batteries if needed, but after a battery change if it is still faulty it falls in the lap of the landlord to sort out.
If found in breach of regulation, your local housing authority may serve a remedial notice. Further to this, each notice served could lead to a fine of up to £5000. These fines are applied per breach, not per landlord or -property.
Carbon Monoxide Detector
Similarly, to the smoke alarm, a carbon monoxide detector is a life-saving tool.
As carbon monoxide is a colourless, and odourless gas, it can linger without you even noticing, and the effect of inhaling this gas is deadly!
As a landlord, you should ensure a carbon monoxide detector is equipped in any room used as living accommodation, which contains a fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers).
Just to clarify, a fixed combustion appliance burns fuel to generate heat. Fuels are either gas, oil, coal, or wood. Most commonly used in the UK are gas boilers, you should have a detector in the area of the combustion appliance.
Testing is just as you would with a smoke alarm before a tenancy and tenants should be testing during their occupation.
And again, failing to follow this compliance rule could lead to a maximum £5,000 fine.
Right To Rent
A landlord must check that a tenant or lodger can legally rent their property in England.
Before a tenancy starts, a landlord has the responsibility to check all tenants aged 18 or over, even if:
- They aren’t named on the tenancy agreement
- There is no tenancy agreement in place
- The tenancy agreement is not in writing (verbal agreement for example)
Ensure all new tenants are checked, it’s illegal to only check people you think aren’t British citizens. Alongside this, it’s also illegal to discriminate against anyone based on where they’re from.
It’s imperative you check original documents; documents cannot be verified if they’re just copies sent electronically or paper-copied.
Ask for original documents to prove they can live in the UK, if they hold a biometric residence card or permit you’ll have to obtain a share code instead.
Make copies and keep a record of them including the date the check was made.
Not keeping on top with this compliance can land you with an unlimited fine and even imprisonment for renting a property to someone who isn’t allowed to stay in the UK.
Registering a deposit with a deposit scheme is a legal requirement with a privately rented property.
Whether it be with the DPS, TDS, or MyDeposits, all three schemes are free to use and must have the funds paid into within 30 days of receiving them.
In the unlikely case, you receive a valuable item instead of monetary payment as a deposit, it won’t be required to be placed in a deposit scheme.
If taking a monetary deposit, the maximum you can ask for is the five-weeks equivalent of the rent, it is illegal to take anything more.
If you don’t protect the deposit you’ll be in breach of compliance that you’re expected to manage. Your tenants can apply to the county court as you’ll be in breach of legislation.
They can do this at any time through the tenancy. If the courts find you haven’t protected it, they’ll order you to pay it to a deposit scheme within 14 days, or worst-case scenario, repay it to your tenants in full immediately.
How To Rent Guide
Giving tenants a ‘How to rent guide’ before they move in is a legal requirement for your compliance responsibilities.
It clearly outlines the rights and responsibilities of both a landlord and a tenant, with a checklist and detailed information on each stage of the process.
An up-to-date version of this guide can be found on the Gov.UK website.
If you cannot prove you have given your tenants this guide, it’ll likely impede any possibility to serve a Section 21 notice to evict them if it was ever needed.
Understanding Damp & Mould Guide
Another compliance requirement to give to a tenant is an ‘Understanding Damp & Mould Guide’.
There is no clear line on who is responsible for dampness or mould occurring in a property during a tenancy, as it will come down to factors that contributed to dampness and mould occurring in the first place.
In the majority of instances, it’ll be down to poor ventilation. Having an extractor fan on, or window open after you’ve had a bath or shower will stop those unsightly black spots in the silicone or grout of tiles.
Or having hoards of furniture pushed to the edges of a room can harvest mould to grow in those tight gaps and spaces.
On the other hand, it could be down to poor property condition, leaking or blocked guttering or lack of insulation from when the property was built can be contributing factors to these issues arising.
If a tenant highlights any issues that is ideally addressed by the landlord, you should look to rectify this as soon as possible. As damp or mould issues get worse it can cause respiratory issues and be ammunition for tenants to fight back if you ever have a need to evict them.
What’s Next On Compliance?
These areas of legislation and compliance that need to be adhered to are only the tip of the ice burg, there are plenty of in-depth factors that need to be accounted for, and any landlord should be mindful of this, so they don’t get stung with penalty fines, banning orders, or even imprisonment.
A property is a long-term investment in most cases, consider whether taking on a professional property management company is the best way to go to ensure compliance is upheld whilst you are still receiving steady rent.
We have property experts on hand that work in-house that manage properties, the related tenancies, as well as the compliance aspects of all properties. Contact us to have a conversation surrounding having your property management taken care of by Abbey Property so that you’re always compliant!