Private Sector Housing
The archived articles below were previously published on the Private Sector Housing page. These articles were correct when they were previously published.
Rent a room
The Rent a Room scheme is an optional scheme that's open to owner occupiers tenants who let out furnished accommodation to a lodger in their main home. It allows you to earn up to £7,500 a year tax-free, or £3,750 if you're letting jointly. You don't have to be a homeowner to take advantage of the scheme.
Further information is available on www.gov.uk/rent-room-in-your-home/becoming-a-resident-landlord
Get an Energy Performance Certificate
Energy Performance Certificates
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rates the energy efficiency and environmental impact of your property. It is rated on a scale from A to G (where A is the most efficient and G the least efficient). As from the 1st April 2018 there will be a requirement for any properties rented out in the private rented sector to normally have a minimum energy performance rating of E on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
Current running costs for heating, hot water and lighting and a list of recommended energy saving improvements are shown on the certificate.
You can get an EPC from an accredited domestic energy assessor.
- Energy Performance Certificate National Register.
- Institute of Domestic Energy Assessors.
- National Energy Services.
Why you need an EPC
An EPC is required for nearly all privately rented residential accommodation. The exception is in cases where individual tenants of a shared house have separate tenancy agreements. These properties do not require an EPC.
An EPC will offer you the opportunity to differentiate your property from your competitors and gain a distinct marketing advantage.
Landlord's Energy Saving Allowance
You can reduce your tax bill by up to £1,500 a year with the Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance.
See Landlord's Energy Saving Allowance on GOV.UK for more information.
Help and advice
Energy Saving Trust provides impartial information on home energy efficiency and can advise you on any grants and offers that may be available to help you with the costs of installing measures.
Call 0800 512 012
They are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday
Lettings agents and property managers: redress schemes
It's a legal requirement for all lettings agents and property managers in England to join one of these three Government-approved schemes.
Purpose of the schemes
To allow you to complain to an independent person about the service you've received if you're:
- a tenant or landlord with agents in the private rented sector
- a leaseholder or freeholder dealing with property managers in the residential sector
Ultimately the requirement to belong to a redress scheme will help weed out bad agents and property managers and drive up standards.
Enforcement by the council
We can impose a penalty of up to £5,000 where an agent or property manager should have joined a scheme but has not done so.
Find out more
Find more information on GOV.UK or by contacting us
Extension of licensing of houses in multiple occupation
This is an advance notice to advise landlords and tenants that it is expected from 1 October 2017 that a large number of properties that currently do not need a licence to operate, will do so.
Currently a house in multiple occupation that is 3 or more storeys and occupied by 5 or more people living as 2 or more households and sharing at least one amenity (kitchen, bathroom, toilets) requires a licence from the Council. There is a charge to the landlord for the licence and certain conditions need to be met including fire safety and amenity provision, property standards and management. The landlord can be prosecuted for failing to obtain a licence or for not complying with the licence conditions.
The proposal is that from 1 October 2017 the 3 or more storey rule will be removed so all properties (regardless of how many floors) with five or more people from two or more households will require a licence. Assuming the October timescale is met; landlords who rent out these properties will have until April 2018 to apply licence.
We will keep you updated about the timescales, costs and the fire and amenity standards that will be required which are likely to differ to some extent from the standards for a 3 storey licensable property. In the meantime if you would like to discuss any points please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Private Sector Housing Team on 01992 564348.
Please also note that if you own a house in multiple occupation that is 3 storeys or more and licensable but you have not applied for a licence, you must do so immediately or face the possibility of a fine of up to £20,000 for non-compliance. You can make an application on line https://www.gov.uk/house-in-multiple-occupation-licence or request an application form from the Private Sector Housing Team.
New Powers to deal with rogue landlords
Most landlords provide well maintained and well managed properties. However, there is significant minority that rent out unsafe and substandard accommodation. New powers under the Housing and Planning Act 2016 have been introduced to given local authorities new powers to deal with private landlords who fail to meet legal requirements.
Civil Penalty Notices
Councils can now issue a Civil (financial) Penalty to a landlord as an alternative to prosecution. The penalties can be used for failure to comply with an Improvement Notice, offences in relation to licensing; offences of contravention of an overcrowding notice and failure to comply with management regulations in respect of House in Multiple Occupation.
The penalty can be up to £30,000 per offence and will be based on a number of factors including the severity of the offence; the track record of the offender, the harm caused to the tenant, to act as a deterrent to the offender and others and to remove any financial benefit the offender may have obtained as a result of committing the offence.
Rent Payment Orders
These orders have existed where a landlord has been prosecuted for renting out an unlicensed property. However, they have now been extended to cover the following situations:
- Failure to comply with an Improvement Notice;
- Failure to comply with a Prohibition Order;
- Breach of a banning order;
- Using violence to secure entry to a property;
- Illegal eviction or harassment of the occupiers of a property.
These powers are now available to Local Authorities and tenants to claim up to 12 months rent from a landlord who has committed an offence above.
Database of rogue landlords and Banning Orders
There are two further elements of the Housing and Planning Act that are proposed to be introduced in October 2017. These are the launch of the national database of rogue landlords and property agents and the introduction of banning orders and management orders:
- The database of rogue landlords and property agents will be operated by the Government but its content shall be managed and maintained by local authorities. Only local authorities will have access and can publish details in some cases;
- Banning orders will prohibit landlords or agents from letting their own properties or from any involvement in the letting and property-management industry or associated companies. Local authorities will be able to apply to a Tribunal for making an order following the commission of 'banning order offences' by landlords and agents. The order may then be made for a minimum period of 12 months and maximum unlimited period.
Epping Forest Council approach
As a local authority we will be revising our Enforcement Policy to make it clear when we will choose to use these powers and will provide an update on this at a later stage.
However, compliant landlords do not have anything to be concerned about.
The Council will also publish guidance on how the level of penalties will be decided.
All landlords are invited to the Landlord Expo, to be held in Bristol on 25 May 2017. The event includes: -
- free seminars;
- promotional exhibitor stands;
- information on the latest issues and matters of interest to private sector landlords.
Change of rules regarding lawful possession of a property
New legislation has changed the process a landlord must follow to repossess a property under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. Under the Deregulation Act 2015, landlords will be unable to end a tenancy using a Section 21 notice if they fail to address a repairs complaint made by a tenant which is then referred to a local authority.
The legislation affects assured short hold tenancies created:
- after 1 October 2015
- before 1 October 2015, but renewed with a new contract after that date
After 1 October 2018, the legislation will affect all assured short hold tenancies retrospectively.
As a landlord, you can seek to repossess a property through section 21 as long as:
- the fixed term on a contract has ended
- you’ve given the tenant two months’ notice in writing that you want possession
Changes to the existing process include:
- information you must give the tenant
- how the notice is given
- when the notice can be given
- when the application to the court is made
- refund of rent to the tenant
- how tenants are protected if they complain about the property
Information you must give the tenant
Before a valid section 21 notice can be served, you must give the tenant:
- a current gas safety certificate
- an energy performance certificate
- the latest version of the government leaflet How to rent
You can email the leaflet, if the tenant has given you an email address and agreed you can use the email address for that purpose.
Right to rent checks
In England, from 1st February 2016 landlords letting private rented accommodation must complete a right to rent check for new tenants. This means that tenants have the right to live in the UK before allowing them to rent the property.
Checking that a tenant has a right to be in the country is a new legal requirement that the government has introduced for private landlords.
Landlords must check that the tenant, and any other adults who'll be living there, are in the country lawfully.
Anyone who rents accommodation to someone who isn't in the country lawfully without carrying out the check can receive a penalty of up to £3,000 per tenant.
Agents must carry out the checks if they're acting on a landlord's behalf and have agreed to do them. The checks also apply when people rent out all or part of their home, for example, when taking in a lodger or when subletting.
Further information and advice on the checks that need to be made is available on WWW.GOV.UK
Housing law consultation - Houses in multiple occupation and residential property licensing
The Department for Communities and Local Government opened a consultation on extending the mandatory licensing of houses in multiple occupation. The consultation sought views on the Government’s proposed details for: the mandatory licensing of houses in multiple occupation; the assumptions made in its associated impact assessment; national room sizes; the fit and proper person test; refuse disposal facilities; and purpose built student accommodation.
For the consultation document, click here. The consultation closed on 13 December 2016.
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