If a tenant rents from a private landlord or letting agent there are a few key areas that they should be aware of and in some cases should request to see copies of certificates before signing any tenancy agreement. There are a number of helpful topics on privately renting on the Governments website.
If a tenant is having problems with their property they should contact their landlord or letting agents as soon as possible to notify them of the problem. Depending on the severity of the problem will depend upon how quickly it can be resolved so the tenant should ask when the problem can be looked and then fixed. If no action is taken the tenant can make a complaint to the council for an inspection to be undertaken. The council is legally required to notify the landlord that a complaint has been made and that we intend to inspect the property, we have to advise them of when we intend to inspect the visit and they can attend at this time if they wish.
Housing inspections look at a number of different hazards and a risk assessment is competed following the inspection. Where works are required we will formally write to the person responsible for the repairs advising them of what must be completed. If they fail to complete the works as requested legal notices may be served requiring them to complete the works within a set time.
We do not advise any tenant to withhold their rent on the grounds of disrepair. However, should tenants feel this is the only option they must first discuss this with a solicitor as there is set process that must be followed to avoid risk of eviction. Further information can be found in Shelter’s leaflet on disrepair.
The most common type of complaint is damp and mould growth, however the majority of these complaints once investigated are due to condensation caused by how the tenant lives in the property. For information on condensation, how to avoid it and what to do if you have it, please see East Northants District advice leaflet.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Regulations
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 came into force on 1 October 2015. These will require private sector landlords to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their properties, and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire, wood burning stove etc). After that, the landlord must make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy. Failure to comply with the regulations will lead to a penalty of up to £5000.
The regulations aim to reduce the risk of injury or death to tenants caused by fire or carbon monoxide poisoning, landlords can find further information in the explanatory booklet.
Landlords are required by the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 to ensure that all gas appliances are maintained in good order and that an annual safety check is carried out by a tradesman who is registered with Gas Safe Register.
The landlord must keep a record of the safety checks and issue it to the tenant within 28 days of each annual check. The landlord is not responsible for maintaining any gas appliances the tenant is entitled to take with them at the end of the letting.
A copy of the most up to date gas safety certificate should be provided to the tenant or should be available on request from the landlord. If there is no gas safety certificate in place tenants should report this to the Health and Safety Executive who are the enforcing body.
Fire safety of furniture and furnishings
Landlords must ensure that any furniture and furnishings they supply meet the fire resistance requirements in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.
The regulations set levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture. All new and second hand furniture provided in accommodation that is let for the first time, or replacement furniture in existing let accommodation, must meet the fire resistance requirements unless it was made before 1950. Most furniture will have a manufacturer’s label on it saying if it meets the requirements.