Private Landlords

The Private Sector Housing Team offers advice and assistance to all private landlords who let properties within Milton Keynes

 

Fire Safety

Landlords are legally required to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every floor of their rental properties, which are used as living accommodation. The landlord must make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy, it is good practice to keep a record of any fire alarm tests carried out. For further guidance on the smoke alarm regulations.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) require a certain level of fire precautions which may include mains wired interlinked fire alarm system, emergency lighting, fire doors and a fully protected means of escape. The Private Sector Housing team will carry out an inspection and if necessary advise on the works required. These works are based on a Housing Health & Safety Rating System inspection, the LACORS - Guidance on Fire Safety Provisions for certain types of existing housing and following a consultation with Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service.  Please contact the Private Sector Housing Team for further guidance or to arrange an inspection or by email.

Landlords must also ensure that all furniture and furnishings that you provide are fire safe and comply with the Furniture and Furnishing (Fire and Furnishing (Fire Safety) Regulations.

Electrical Safety

Landlords of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are legally obliged to have a periodic inspection (known as an electrical installation condition report) carried out on the property every five years.

If your property is not a HMO and is let to a single family, you are not obliged to do this, however it is good practice. You are required to ensure that the electrical installations are safe when the tenants move in and are maintained in a safe condition throughout the duration of the tenancy.  It is recommended that a periodic inspection is carried out on your rental properties at least every five years or at the change of each tenancy.

If you provide electrical appliances in your rental accommodation, you should carry out Portable Appliance Testing or PAT Testing to ensure that your appliances are safe. You should carry out PAT Testing at least once every year.

To meet these requirements you will need to carry out regular safety checks to ensure that the electrical installation and any appliances provided are safe and work as intended. The Electrical Safety First website provides guidance on how to carry out such checks. There is also a ‘Home Electrical Safety Check’ smartphone app that you can download for free.

Gas Safety

If your property has gas appliances you will need an annual Landlords Gas Safety Certificate and you must provide a copy of this to your tenants.  The check must be carried out by a Gas Safe Registered engineer.  For further information on landlords' responsibilities for gas safety in their rental properties, refer to the Health and Safety Executive website.

Carbon Monoxide

Landlords are required to provide a carbon monoxide alarm in any room used as living accommodation where a solid fuel burning appliances (coal fire, wood burning stove) is used.  The landlord must make sure that alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.

It is also good practice to provide a carbon monoxide alarm in any room where a gas boiler is installed.

For further information on the Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations.

Repairs

It is your responsibility to make sure that any property that you let is safe and free from serious hazards. You are responsible for ensuring that all repairs and maintenance are carried out within a reasonable time period. 

Repairs that you are responsible for include the property’s structure and exterior, basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary fittings including pipes and drains, heating and hot water, gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation, electrical wiring etc.

You should include details of your responsibilities for the maintenance of your property in your tenancy agreement. You should also provide tenants with clear guidelines on how to report a repair.

If the repairs are not carried out promptly and a complaint is made to the council by the tenant the council have a duty to investigate. A tenant could also take you to court or make a compensation claim against you if they are injured or their possessions are damaged because you didn’t carry out necessary repairs.

What the council will do if we receive a complaint from your tenant

If the council receives a complaint from your tenants about repair issues within the property that they rent, an officer from the council may visit the property.  If there are repairs that are of cause for concern, we will write to you and allow a reasonable time period to resolve any issues identified.

If the required works are not completed, the property may be assessed under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS); the assessment will show whether any serious (category 1) hazards and other less serious (category 2) hazard exist. If a category 1 hazard is identified the council has a duty to take the most appropriate course of action to ensure the hazard is removed or reduced to an acceptable level.  Where improvements are not made within a reasonable time period the council may take formal action.  For further information on the HHSRS and the type of formal action that can be taken

Charges for enforcement action taken against you

As a council we are able to charge for various types of enforcement action taken under the Housing Act 2004.  The charge is currently £220 per notice.  The enforcement options available to the council are:
 
·         Improvement notice (including Suspended Improvement notice)
·         Prohibition Order (including Suspended Prohibition Order)
·         Emergency Remedial Action
·         Hazard Awareness Notice.
·         Emergency Prohibition Order

HMO Licensing

On 1st October 2018 the mandatory licensing rules change across England. The scheme is being extended to include all HMOs regardless of the number of storeys. Therefore from this date all HMOs that are occupied by five or more people who are not all related, and where there is some sharing of facilities, will require a HMO licence.

The scheme was previously restricted to properties that were three or more storeys in height.

For more information on HMO Licensing and how to apply

Rent Repayment Orders

Under the Housing and Planning Act 2016, the council can apply to the First-Tier Tribunal for a Rent Repayment Order to recover rent paid to a landlord who has committed one of the following offences:

  • Failure to comply with an improvement notice
  • Failure to comply with a prohibition order
  • Control or management of an unlicensed HMO
  • Breach of a banning order

The order will require the landlord to repay up to a maximum of 12 months’ worth of rent to the council for any housing benefit or universal credit paid in respect of rent under a tenancy. Private tenants also have the right to make an application for a Rent Repayment Order to reclaim any monies that they personally paid in respect of rent.  For further information, you can read Chapter 2 Part 4 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

Financial Penalties

The Housing Act 2004 has been amended to give the council power to impose financial penalties as an alternative to prosecution. Financial penalties may be imposed if a landlord has committed one of the following offences:

  • Failure to comply with improvement notice
  • Offences in relation to HMO licensing
  • Failure to comply with overcrowding notices
  • Offences in relation to HMO management regulations

The penalty imposed is to be determined by the local authority but must not exceed £30,000.

A financial penalty cannot be imposed if the person has already been convicted of the offence or if proceedings are already in progress. For further information, you can read schedule 9 of the Housing & Planning Act 2016.

Right to Rent

As a landlord you are responsible for checking that your tenants have the Right to Rent in the UK. 

You are required to check the identify documents for all new and existing tenants. A wide range of documents can be used for the checks to cover circumstances were tenants may not have a passport. There is an online checking tool to assist landlords and to request a check on anyone who has an outstanding case with the home office.

Deposits

If you take a deposit from your tenants, you must pay this into an approved government scheme. There are three schemes available:

  • Deposit Protection Service
  • My Deposits
  • Tenancy Deposit Scheme

If you don't protect the tenants’ deposits under one of these schemes, you could be liable to pay back three times the cost of the deposit.  A court may also decide that your tenant does not have to leave the property when the tenancy ends if you haven’t used a tenancy deposit scheme when you should have.

Further information on tenancy deposit schemes can be found on the Gov.UK website

Ending a tenancy

To end a tenancy you will normally have to serve a written notice on your tenant. The type of notice depends on when the tenancy started and why you want them to leave.

If your tenant refuses to leave, you may need to get a possession order from the County Court, depending on the type of tenancy agreement you have with your tenant. If your tenant still doesn’t leave, you may have to go back to court to get a bailiff’s warrant.

The important thing to remember is that you cannot evict your tenant yourself you must follow the correct procedure. For guidance refer to the national eviction advice on the Gov.uk website.

Landlord Forums

The council facilitates a Private Landlord Forum. The forum aims to keep landlords up to date with issues affecting them. If you would like to be sent details of the next forum please email the private sector housing team.

If you have recently attended a forum and would like to provide feedback or suggest topics for the next forum you can do this by emailing the private sector housing team

Private Sector Leasing Scheme

The private sector leasing scheme offers guaranteed rent each month, regular inspections, 10% higher payments than LHA rate, repairs completed, no administration fee and properties are returned in good condition taking account of fair wear and tear. For further information on the private sector leasing scheme you can contact the Accommodation Development Team on 01908 252667 or by email.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

Before you can market your property you will need to obtain an EPC by using a local energy assessor. EPCs are valid for 10 years although you may find it beneficial to get a new one if you carry out some energy improvements.

Landlords Accreditation

The Council’s Landlord’s Accreditation Scheme recognises properties in the private sector that are well managed and maintained. Click on the above link to find out how you join.

Last Updated: 20 September 2018