- Keeping in repair the structure and exterior of the property, including drains, gutters, and external pipes.
- Keeping in repair and proper working order the installations for the supply of water, gas, and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences, and for heating rooms and heating water)
- Keeping the property wind- and water-tight and reasonably fit for human habitation
- Providing a rent book if statute so requires (e.g. where the rent is paid weekly)
- Providing the students with your full name and address.
- Providing them with a copy of the valid current Gas Safety Certificate - www.gassaferegister.co.uk.
- Providing them with a copy of the electrical certificates. NICEIC site (Electrical safety standard organisation) www.niceic.org.uk
- Allowing the exclusive possession of their accommodation
- You should give prior warning as agreed in the Tenancy Agreement (normally at least 24 hours) to the tenant when you wish to enter the property to carry out legitimate maintenance checks and repairs.
- Registering with the Local Authority, where the property is located, who must be satisfied that the landlord is "fit and proper". Under the registration scheme there are penalties for landlords who are not deemed to be taking sufficient action to deal with the antisocial behaviour of their tenants.
- From 3rd September 2007, complying with the Statutory Repairing Standard brought in by the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006. To meet the Repairing Standard, the landlord has to ensure that the property is wind and water tight and reasonably fit for human habitation; that the structural and exterior of the house are in reasonable repair and proper working order, considering its age and locality; and that the installations for the supply of services, fixtures, fittings, appliances and furnishings are in reasonable repair and proper working order. More specifically, there has to be at least one functioning smoke alarm on each floor and, ideally, these should be mains powered.
- Acting in a "Tenant-like manner". This means they should perform the smaller tasks around the house such as changing lightbulbs, unblocking the sink when blocked with waste, clean the windows when necessary.
- Use the property with reasonable care - if they do not then they are responsible for the necessary repairs.
- Refuse collection! They are responsible for putting out the wheelie bin (in areas where schemes exist)- and to bring it back in again.
- Securing the property when they go away - i.e./ they must lock all doors and windows!
- Being reasonable about noise and parties
- Reporting all repairs needed to you (preferably in writing). The landlord's responsibility to repair begins only when he/she are aware of the disrepair. You, as landlord, are responsible to take remedial action within a reasonable period of time (dependant upon the nature of the disrepair)
If you don't carry out repairs that are your responsibility the tenant will probably contact their student's union, accommodation department at the University or a law centre or Citizens Advice Bureau. They will have a number of legal options open to them.
If the tenants don't fulfil their obligations e.g. paying rent, maintaining standards, Citizens advice Bureau or legal advice should be sought.
It is mandatory for all HMOs to be licensed. To be classified as a licensable HMO the accommodation must be the only or principal residence of three or more unrelated occupiers. Please note that a child who is an owner-occupier is not included when counting the occupiers (i.e. a flat occupied by an owner and two tenants is not classed as an HMO).
Students in accommodation that is an HMO in term time are treated as being solely or principally resident there in order to calculate the number of occupiers of an HMO.
The responsibility for implementing the licensing scheme rests with local authorities. Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen City Councils websites are at:
Letting Agents - each town and city will have a selection of letting agents who will let and manage your property normally in exchange for a fixed fee and a percentage of the rent
The letting agency association web site - www.arla.co.uk
If you are viewing this section then you no doubt have serious problems and the best advice would be to seek professional assistance. The law varies depending on the type of tenancy you have. If you are a student landlord you will no doubt have an Short Assured Tenancy agreement with your tenant. At the end of the period, the landlord has absolute right to repossession, as long as the correct notices have been served and the correct procedures have been followed.
If the tenant refuses to leave or is refusing to pay rent, he or she can only be removed with a court order but certain procedures have to be followed. Please note that force or harassment is not an option and may lead to prosecution.
The Government is making it harder for illegal immigrants to rent accommodation. The Immigration Act 2014 introduced a requirement for landlords of private rental accommodation to conduct checks to establish that new tenants have the right to rent in the UK. Landlords who rent to illegal migrants without conducting these checks will be liable for a civil penalty.
The government wants to ensure tenants in private rented housing are not living in the UK illegally and is already working with councils to tackle rogue landlords who exploit migrant by housing them in "beds in sheds" and illegally overcrowded accommodation.
These checks will start in one location in the UK in autumn 2014, the area will be announced by the Government. The requirements will then apply more widely from 2015.
The government is focussing on making this work for the housing market and minimising regulation. The checks will be very simple, and in most cases landlords will be able to conduct them without contacting the Home Office.
Private landlords will be required to make simple checks on new tenants to ensure that they are entitled to be in this country. The checks will be straightforward and quick for law-abiding landlords and tenants to comply with.
Once you have done all your checks you need to arrange for the balance of the deposit to be paid, the tenancy signed and the first month’s rent to be collected. It is not compulsory to collect a deposit but it is advisable as it can be used to cover rent arrears or damage/cleaning at the end of the tenancy. However, it does need to be registered or lodged with a government authorised scheme, such as the Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS), the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) or MyDeposits.
- The requirements will not apply to pre-existing tenancies. Landlords will only have to conduct checks on new tenancy agreements from the implementation date.
- The checks will apply to all adults over the age of 18 living at the property.
- When the checks are mandatory in 2015 there will be resources provided such as draft Codes of Practice, guidance and online resources, including an aid to help landlords and tenants identify whether they are affected and, if so, how to conduct a check.
- The government will also provide a set off services to help landlords to conduct checks such as online guidance and a telephone helpline (local rate) providing general information, and a case-checking service for more complex cases.
- The government are focused on caring for the vulnerable:
1) They are making it easy for homeless and vulnerable people to prove their entitlement through simple documentary requirements for the right to rent check
2) They are exempting those parts of the housing market where further regulation is least appropriate from this obligation, including homelessness hostels, refuges and student accommodation including all halls of residence, any accommodation provided for students directly by a higher educational institution (HEI), and residency agreements in private residential properties where the student has been nominated to occupy the property by a HEI
3) They are excluding all tenants housed by local authorities under a statutory duty from the scheme.
- The focus is on making it work for the housing market and minimising regulation. If a landlord has not had an answer from the Home Office within two working days, they can go ahead and rent without risk of incurring a penalty (Check latest timing on website).
- Failure to comply could result in a civil penalty up to a maximum £3000.
- It is important to check the latest timescales and requirements directly.
Letting agents have until 1 October 2014 to register with 1 of 3 redress schemes, to ensure tenants and leaseholders have a straightforward option to hold their agents to account.
Anyone who feels they get a poor deal from their letting agent will then be able to take their complaint to the redress scheme, and could receive compensation.
The schemes are run by The Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services Property and the Property Redress Scheme.
The vast majority of letting agents are already signed up to one of these 3 redress schemes - but Mr Lewis today (5 September 2014) urged the remaining minority to sign up, before it becomes a legal requirement on 1 October.
More information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/letting-agents-need-to-move-quickly-to-sign-up-to-redress-schemes.
Any letting agent not signed up to one of the 3 approved redress schemes could face a fine of up to £5,000.
Ideally you will want any sitting tenants to be "Short Assured Tenants", because then you will be able to evict them if the appropriate notices have been served and procedures followed, if you want to. You will need to check therefore the status of all tenants in occupation. To do this, find out the date of the tenants' tenancy agreement with the landlord (i.e. not just the date of the last time the tenants were given a new written agreement).
If the agreement was made before 2nd January 1989 then the tenants will be 'regulated' tenants and not only will it be almost impossible for you to evict them (unless you provide them with 'suitable alternative accommodation' or they break the tenancy agreement), but you will also be unable to charge them a market rent, only the 'fair rent' set by the Rent Assessment Committee.
If the agreement was made on or after 2nd January 1989, it will probably be an assured tenancy, unless an AT5 notice (also called a "Section 32 notice") was served on the tenants before the start of the tenancy; if this happened, the tenancy will probably be a Short Assured Tenancy. Again, if the tenancy is an assured tenancy, you will usually be unable to evict them unless you provide them with alternative accommodation or they breach the terms of the tenancy agreement.
These are perhaps the main legal problems you might encounter, however every property is different and can have different problems. Find out all you can about the tenants, particularly their payment record and whether their behaviour is good. Check also whether they have paid a damage deposit and ensure that this is passed over to you on completion.
You will need to get all the documentation held by the owner in connection with all the tenancies in the property. In particular you will need:
- A copy of the first tenancy agreement and the current tenancy agreement (if there is more than one)
- A copy of the rent register for any regulated tenants (this will tell you the current rent and when you can apply to have it increased)
- Copy of the AT5 notice served on tenants whose tenancy started after 1st January 1989, with proof of service (or better still a receipted copy of the AT5 Notice)
- Copies of any notices to quit or notices of proceedings for possession that have been served on tenants, again with proof of service
Failing these you should satisfy yourself of the type of tenancy and the notices which have been served. Remember you may need to prove these matters in court, and once the property is sold to you, the owner may be unavailable or unwilling to assist you.
First of all, be aware that you can only ever evict a residential tenant through the courts. If you evict them without a court order you will be committing a criminal offence and will also be liable for (potentially substantial) damages.
If the tenants are regulated tenants, i.e. if their tenancy started before 2nd January 1989, you will normally only be able to evict them if you are able to provide suitable alternative accommodation or they break their tenancy agreement. However if the tenants do not want to move (particularly if the property has sentimental meaning for them) note that a court may be unwilling to find that the property you have selected is in fact 'suitable'. You should therefore only ever purchase a property with regulated tenants if you are willing for them to remain indefinitely.
- If the tenancy started after 2nd January 1989, then you will need to be able to prove that an AT5 notice was served on the tenants before the tenancy was entered into (i.e. at least one day before the start of the tenancy). If this cannot be provided the tenants will be assured tenants. In which case, unless the tenants are in breach of their tenancy agreement, or unless you have suitable alternative accommodation available, you will almost certainly not be able to evict them. Again, think carefully before taking on a property with assured tenants.
- If you can prove that an AT5 notice was served on the tenants prior to the tenancy, they will usually be short assured tenants, and you will be able to evict them after their fixed term has expired, provided a Notice to Quit in the proper form has been served on them at least two months in advance. If a notice has already been served by the current landlord, your solicitor should check to see that it complies with the legal requirements and that you have proof of service.
- If the tenants are 'common law' tenants then they will not be protected under the various statutory codes and you should be able to evict them at the end of any fixed term provided a
- Notice to Quit in the proper form has been served on them.
These are the basic rules for the main types of tenancy you are likely to encounter.
A landlord has little control over the conduct of his tenants once they are in occupation of the property. This is why it is so important to be careful when choosing your tenants. If the tenant is causing major damage to the property, you may be able to obtain a decree for recovery of possession from court after serving a two-week notice. However as you will be claiming possession under one of the discretionary 'grounds' your tenant may be able to obtain legal aid to defend the proceedings. You should seek legal advice from a specialist-housing solicitor before taking any action. Otherwise the best course of action is to threaten to evict the tenant at the end of the fixed term, if they do not improve their behaviour (note, this is assuming that the tenancy is a Short Assured Tenancy). You should also serve the proper form of Notice to Quit on the tenant, which must give the tenants a notice period of at least two months and must state the date of the end of the tenancy as the leaving date. On expiry of this Notice, you will be able to obtain a decree for recovery of possession more or less automatically.
If the tenancy is an assured or a Short Assured Tenancy, rent can only be increased by one of the following methods:
- By agreement with the tenant, e.g. by the tenant signing a new tenancy agreement with the new rent or providing written confirmation that the new rent is agreed. This is the best way to increase the rent.
- By serving the proper form of notice of rent increase on the tenant. This can only be done one year after the fixed term has expired and a Notice to Quit has been correctly served, and the tenant has the right to refer the rent to the Rent Assessment Committee, if they feel that the rent is too high. For this reason increasing rent by this method is best avoided.
- Following a rent review clause in the tenancy agreement
If this happens landlord should try to talk to the tenant to find out what the problem is. They should explain that the inspections are for the tenant's benefit to check the condition of the property so any necessary repairs can be done, or to carry out the annual gas check. They should explain that the tenant has a statutory duty to allow reasonable access for repairs, and that there duty to take reasonable care of the property includes allowing inspection and repairs.
If the tenant still refuses to allow the landlord access, the landlord will have to abide by this. It is important that the landlord does not just use his keys to gain access when the tenant is out. This will be deemed harassment and is a criminal offence. It is also breach of contract and could lead to the tenant taking legal action.
So far as the gas regulations are concerned, non-compliance with these is normally a criminal offence, however the landlord will not be prosecuted if he has made reasonable attempts to get the annual check done. To protect his position though, it is a good idea for the landlord to contact the local Health and Safety Executive (who police the regulations) and inform them of the situation.
So far as the landlords’ general repairing obligations are concerned, the landlord cannot be held liable for breach of these, if he has not been allowed access by the tenant to carry out an inspection and do repairs. However the landlord will want to carry out regular inspections, as he will not want his property, which is a substantial financial investment, to deteriorate. Further, any losses to the tenant due to repairs or inspections (for instance, moving to temporary accommodation) should be payable by the landlord. In these circumstances he should therefore consider taking steps to evict the tenant, and should take legal advice regarding this if necessary.
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