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Private sector housing advice and enforcement


The aim of this page is to provide some background information so that private sector landlords and managing agents will be aware of the relevant content of the legislation relating to private rented properties, in addition to the Housing Act 2004.

Homes (Fitness for Habitation) Act

The Bill received Royal Assent on 20 December 2018 and the Homes (Fitness for Habitation) Act 2018 came into force on 20 March 2019.

The Act amends Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to require all landlords to ensure that their properties, including common parts, are fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout.

The obligations imposed by the Act apply to:

  • Tenancies of less than 7 years granted on or after 20 March 2019
  • New secure, assured and introductory tenancies granted on or after 20 March 2019
  • Tenancies renewed for a fixed term on or after 20 March 2019
  • From 20 March 2020 - all periodic tenancies (including those that commenced before 20 March 2019).

The provisions defining what is, and is not, fit for human habitation are contained in the amended s10 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and include:

  • Where the building is neglected and in bad condition
  • Where the building is unstable
  • Serious damp problems
  • Unsafe layout
  • Insufficient natural light
  • Insufficient ventilation
  • Problems with the supply of hot and cold water
  • Problems with drainage or lavatories
  • Difficulty in preparing and cooking food or washing up.

In addition, if the property is subject to any of the 29 ‘hazards’ set out in Schedule 1 of the Housing Health and Safety (England) Regulations 2005, it will be deemed unfit for human habitation. Those hazards include:

  • Exposure to house dust mites, damp, mould or fungal growths (Paragraph 1 of Schedule 1)
  • Exposure to low or high temperatures (Paragraphs 2 and 3)
  • A lack of adequate space for living and sleeping (Paragraph 11)
  • A lack of adequate lighting (Paragraph 13)
  • Exposure to noise (Paragraph 14)
  • Electrical hazards/exposure to electricity (Paragraph 23).

The Act does, however, list a number of exceptional circumstances where a landlord will not be liable for the lack of fitness for human habitation of premises, including:

  • Where the problem is caused by the behaviour of the tenant
  • Where the problem is caused by acts of God
  • Where the problem is caused by the tenants’ own possessions
  • Where the landlord has not been able to obtain consent for any necessary works (for example planning permission or permission from freeholders to undertake works). In these circumstances, the landlord must be able to provide evidence of its reasonable efforts to gain the necessary permission
  • Where the tenant is not an individual, eg lettings to other landlords. 

In the event that a Court finds a landlord in breach of the Act, the landlord can be ordered to pay compensation to the tenant and/or to undertake works, including improvement works, to the premises. There is currently no prescribed limit on the compensation that a landlord can be ordered to pay. The lack of clarity in this respect should act as a further incentive to landlords to ensure that they are not in breach of the new legislation.

A further consequence of being found in breach of the Act is that landlords of assured shorthold tenants will not be able to avail themselves of the section 21 “no fault” possession procedure, provisions which effectively run alongside the protections already in place for such tenants from retaliatory evictions under the Deregulation Act 2014.

Landlords are liable to effect repairs to remedy a hazard within “…a reasonable amount of time…” of being made aware of the existence of the defect by the tenant, although there is no notice requirement in relation to the common parts of a building, in which case a landlord will be deemed to be impliedly on notice.

As with disrepair under section 11 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, what is a “reasonable amount of time” is not specifically defined by the legislation and will depend on all the relevant circumstances. The Act makes clear that a landlord should, upon being notified of a defect, ensure that it is taking active steps to remedy the defect and ensure that the premises are put back into a habitable condition, failing which the tenant can issue proceedings seeking damages and an order compelling the landlord to undertake the necessary works.

Landlords should ensure that:

as of 20 March 2019, any properties let under a new tenancy are fully compliant with the Act, and are not subject to any relevant defects - as this may risk enforcement action being taken against them.

  • during the next 12 months, premises which were let prior to 20 March 2019 are made compliant with the Act. Failure to do so could risk an influx of claims at the end of the transitional period on 20 March 2020.
  • they are fully acquainted with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) Guidance for Landlords.
  • policies and procedures are updated to manage the risk of tenant solicitors and claims management seeking to pursue claims against landlords, when as the Act come in to force.

Lettings agents and property managers: redress schemes

In October 2014 new legislation was passed which dictated that all Letting Agents and Property Managers had to be registered with organisations as specified by the Secretary of State. Further information can be obtained from Private Sector Housing or online at GOV.UK.

In October 2014 new legislation was passed which dictated that all Letting Agents and Property Managers had to be registered with organisations as specified by the Secretary of State. It's a legal requirement for all lettings agents and property managers in England to join one of these three Government-approved schemes.

The Penalty Charge shall be set at £1,000 for the first offence but this will be reduced to £750 if paid within a 14 day period.

Should the Landlord not comply with future Remedial Notices then the fine shall be set according to the table below :

Offence Fine Offence Fine
Second £2000 Third £3000
Fourth £4000 Fifth or more £5000

No discount will be given for prompt payment after the first occasion.

The local housing authority may recover the penalty charge as laid out in the Regulations.

Appeals in relation to a penalty charge notice

The landlord can request in writing, in a period that must not be less than 28 days beginning with the day on which the penalty notice was served, that the local housing authority review the penalty charge notice.

The local housing authority must consider any representation and decide whether to confirm, vary or withdraw the penalty charge notice. A landlord who is served with a notice confirming or varying a penalty charge notice may appeal to the First-tier Tribunal against the local housing authority’s decision.

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.

This now means that tenants, prospective tenants, landlords dealing with lettings agents in the private rented sector; as well as leaseholders and freeholders dealing with property managers in the residential sector can complain to an independent person about the service received. This will make it easier for tenants and landlords to complain about bad service and prevent disputes escalating.

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.

Further information

Find more information on GOV.UK

Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Monitors

Legislation from 1 October 2015 dictates that all rented properties must have smoke detectors on each floor and carbon monoxide monitors are installed in any room which is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance.

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 introduces the following requirements for all landlords during any period beginning on or after 1 October 2015 when the premises are occupied under the tenancy.

  1. a smoke alarm is equipped on each storey of the premises on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation;
  2. a carbon monoxide alarm is equipped in any room of the premises which is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance; and
  3. checks are made by or on behalf of the landlord to ensure that each prescribed alarm is in proper working order on the day the tenancy begins if it is a new tenancy.

Where the Local Housing Authority has reasonable grounds to believe that there are no or insufficient number of smoke alarms or

  • Carbon Monoxide Detectors in the property as required by the regulations or; The Smoke Alarms or
  • Carbon Monoxide Detectors were not working at the start of a tenancy or licence.

Then the Authority shall serve on the Landlord in a method prescribed by the Regulations, a Remedial Notice detailing the actions the landlord must take to comply with the Regulations.

If after 28 days the Landlord has not complied with the Remedial Notice. a Penalty Charge shall be levied through a penalty charge notice.

The Authority considers that a lesser penalty will be merited on the occasion of a first offence and that prompt payment of the penalty on that first occasion should attract a reduced penalty in recognition of early admission of liability and savings in administration costs.

The level of penalty should, however, as a minimum, cover the cost of all works in default, officer time, recovery costs, an administration fee and a fine.

Repeated offences should attract a progressively higher penalty in view of continuing disregard for legal requirements and tenant safety.

If, following the service of a first penalty charge notice, a notice (or notices) is (are) served in respect of a further offence (or offences), but the further offence(s) arose prior to the service of the first notice, the penalty charge in respect of each notice shall be treated as a first offence penalty charge. Subsequent offences will, however, be treated cumulatively.

The Penalty Charge shall be set at £1,000 for the first offence but this will be reduced to £750 if paid within a 14 day period.

Should the Landlord not comply with future Remedial Notices then the fine shall be set according to the table below :

Offence Fine Offence Fine
Second £2000 Third £3000
Fourth £4000 Fifth or more £5000

No discount will be given for prompt payment after the first occasion.

The local housing authority may recover the penalty charge as laid out in the Regulations.

Appeals in relation to a penalty charge notice

The landlord can request in writing, in a period that must not be less than 28 days beginning with the day on which the penalty notice was served, that the local housing authority review the penalty charge notice.

The local housing authority must consider any representation and decide whether to confirm, vary or withdraw the penalty charge notice. A landlord who is served with a notice confirming or varying a penalty charge notice may appeal to the First-tier Tribunal against the local housing authority’s decision.

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).

Current running costs for heating, hot water and lighting and a list of recommended energy saving improvements are shown on the certificate.

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.

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.

Yes Energy Solutions
Call 01422 888100
They are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

These regulations are designed to tackle the least energy-efficient properties in England and Wales – those rated F or G on their Energy performance Certificate (EPC). The Regulations establish a minimum standard for both domestic and non-domestic privately rented property, effecting new tenancies from 1 April 2018.

The current domestic regulation are based on a principle of ‘no cost to the landlord’, this means that landlords of F & G rated homes will only be required to make improvements to these properties where they can do so entirely using third party finance from one or more sources.

However, the Government now proposed to amend these regulations by removing the ‘no cost to the landlord’ and introducing a ‘landlord funding contribution’ component where a landlord is unable to obtain suitable ‘no cost’ funding. To protect landlords from excessive costs, Government is intending to introduce a cost cap of £2 500 per property. A consultation is currently underway regarding the above, further information can be found at GOV.UK.

The Private Rented Property minimum standard – landlord guidance documents.

The PRS Exemptions Register is for properties which are legally required to have an EPC, and which are let on a relevant tenancy type, but which cannot be improved to meet the minimum standard of EPC band E for one of the reasons set out below in guidance.

Register an exemption.

Enforcement Options

Using guidance issued by the DCLG, council officers rate each individual hazard present within a dwelling on a pre-determined scale.

This results in a hazard score for each of the 29 hazards incorporated within the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). Scores are grouped into ten bands from A to J with Band A representing the most severe hazards down to Band J representing those with minor health impact. Hazard bands A to C are deemed Category One hazards. The remaining Bands are deemed Category Two.

As a local authority guidance is available to assess what enforcement action can be taken in respect of these hazards.

The housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS) is a risk-based evaluation tool to help us identify and protect against potential health and safety risks and hazards from any deficiencies identified in homes. It was introduced under the Housing Act 2004.

If we take action, we can make a reasonable charge to recover certain expenses incurred in:

  • serving an improvement notice
  • making a prohibition order
  • serving a hazard awareness notice
  • taking emergency remedial action
  • making an emergency prohibition order
  • making a demolition order under section 265 of the Housing Act 1985

We'll also charge for reviewing a notice that's been suspended.

Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy (PDF 389kb)

Council officers rate each individual hazard in a property on a scale. This leads to a hazard score for each of the 29 hazards incorporated in the HHSRS.

We're guided by three main points when making an enforcement decision:

  • the HHSRS hazard rating
  • whether we have a duty or power under the act to take action
  • the best way of dealing with a hazard taking into account the enforcement guidance

More information about the enforcement action we can take, including improvement notices, prohibition orders and emergency action, can be found at the GOV.UK website.

The GOV.UK website also features lots of HHSRS guidance for landlords.

 

Contact us


Ryedale District Council
Ryedale House
Old Malton Road
Malton, North Yorkshire
YO17 7HH

Email: Contact the Council

Phone: 01653 600666

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