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Minutes of the Landlord Exchange

This page contains minutes and agendas for Landlord Exchange meetings

Frequently Asked Questions (25)

Can I Insure My Tenant's Contents on My Landlord Insurance Policy?

No. You can only insure your own contents on your landlord insurance policy; your tenants must take out their own insurance should they wish to protect their contents. The reason for this goes back to one of the principal rules of insurance, which is that the entity that is being insured must be owned or directly effect the person who is taking out the insurance contract. If this rule is not strictly adhered to, the insurance contract can develop a moral hazard and end up more like speculation/gambling.

Does My House in Multiple Occupancy Require a Licence?

If you rent out a property for house in multiple occupancy (HMO), you may require a licence from your local authority.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Applications must be made to the local housing authority.
  • A fee maybe charged.
  • You must be a fit and proper person to hold the licence.

Regulation Summary

A summary of the regulation relating to this licence

Application Evaluation Process

Licences will be granted if:

  • the house is or can be made suitable for multiple occupation
  • the applicant is a fit and proper person and the most appropriate person to hold the licence
  • the proposed manager has control of the house, and is a fit and proper person to be the manager
  • the management arrangements are satisfactory

Will Tacit Consent Apply?

Yes. This means that you will be able to act as though your application is granted if you have not heard from the local authority by the end of the target completion period

Apply online

Apply for a house in multiple occupancy licence
Tell us about a change to your existing house in multiple occupancy licence

Failed Application Redress

  • Please contact your Local Authority in the first instance.
  • You may appeal to a residential property tribunal.
  • Any appeal must be made within 28 days of the decision being made.

Licence Holder Redress

  • Please contact your Local Authority in the first instance.
  • You may appeal to a residential property tribunal regarding conditions attached to a licence or any decision to vary or revoke a licence.
  • Any appeal must be made within 28 days of the decision being made.

Consumer Complaint

If a licence is granted and you wish to appeal against it being granted you may do so to a residential property tribunal within 28 days of the decision being made.

Other Redress

E.g. about noise, pollution, etc. Also should one licence holder complain about another.

Trade Associations

British Property Federation (BPF)

National Federation of Property Professionals

Do I Need to Inform My Mortgage Company?

Most mortgagees insist as a term of the mortgage that you inform them of your intention to let the property.

It is quite likely that they will agree to this if your lender is one that accepts "buy-to-let" mortgages, it may well be on different terms & at a different interest rate than your current deal & they may charge an "arrangement fee".

It is recommended that you take advice from your mortgage provider or your independent financial advisor.

How Does the New Tenant's Deposit Scheme Work?

The Tenants Deposit scheme has been introduced to help resolve disputes over the return of a tenants deposit on quitting a property. The landlord must inform the tenant into which Government approved scheme the money has been placed.

There are two types of scheme.

The deposit is placed with a third party (the scheme provider) who also provides a resolution service should there be a dispute.

There are only 3 Government Approved Schemes

The Deposit Protection Service

The DPS is the only custodial deposit protection scheme, is free to use and open to all Landlords and Letting Agents. The service is funded entirely from the interest earned from deposits held. Landlords and Letting Agents will be able to register and make transactions online. Paper forms will also be available should internet access be an issue. The scheme will be supported by a dedicated call centre and an independent dispute resolution service.
For more information, visit the website below or telephone 0844 472 7000.

Tenancy Deposit Solutions Ltd (TDSL)

TDSL is a partnership between the National Landlords Association and Hamilton Fraser Insurance. This insurance-based tenancy deposit protection scheme enables landlords, either directly or through agents, to hold deposits. Letting agents can also join the scheme.

For more information, visit the website below or telephone 0871 703 0552.

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS)

TDS is an insurance-backed deposit protection and dispute resolution scheme run by The Dispute Service that builds on a scheme established in 2003 to provide dispute resolution and complaints handling for the lettings industry. The new scheme enables letting agents and landlords to hold deposits.

For more information, visit the website below or call 0845 226 7837.

It is up to the landlord into which scheme the deposit is placed

How Do I Evict a Tenant?
  • Only court appointed bailiffs may carry out a legal eviction!
  • Due process must be followed
  • Section 21 notice/ Court Application/ Possession Order/ Bailiffs Warrant!

Failure to comply with this process may result in an unlimited fine or upto 2 years in prison.

The landlord may also be liable to pay substantial compensation if the process is not followed.

It is vital that landlords know what to do when they need to evict a tenant so that they are on the right side of the law. Failure to follow procedure properly could land you with a hefty fine, or even worse, time in prison.

The advice contained in these pages will give you the information you need to help you successfully, and legally, evict a tenant and regain possession of your premises. Please note that this advice applies only to tenants living in England & Wales and who have an assured or an assured shorthold tenancy agreement.

What do I need to do?

There are many different grounds you can use to evict a tenant from your property, but the two most commonly used grounds are rent arrears and the accelerated possession procedure .

What is the accelerated procedure?

The accelerated possession procedure can be used by a landlord at the end of the fixed term of the tenancy (which may be ended early if a break clause has been used) or at any time during a periodic tenancy, provided that the tenants have occupied the property for at least six months since the start of the first tenancy agreement. The procedure involves serving a notice under section 21 of the Housing Act (a section 21 notice), which will stipulate a certain amount of time within which the tenants must vacate the property. If the tenants fail to move out after you have served this notice, you will have to apply to the court for an order to evict the tenants.

What is the difference between a fixed term and a periodic tenancy?

A fixed term tenancy is created for a specified length of time, for example, 12 months. If the tenants remain in the property after the fixed term has ended, but do not enter into a new fixed term agreement, then their tenancy will automatically become periodic.

A periodic tenancy rolls on a specific period, such as month to month or quarter to quarter. This arrangement may have been specified at the start of the tenancy or may have naturally arisen by the expiry of a fixed term tenancy.

What is the procedure for rent arrears?

If your tenants are in arrears of rent, but you are able to use the accelerated possession procedure, then we generally recommend that you use this procedure, rather than using the ground of rent arrears. This way, you are able to get the tenants out as quick as possible and get new tenants in who will start paying rent.

However, please note that when you use the accelerated possession procedure, the court will not order the tenants to pay any rent arrears to you. You must instead apply to the county court for a court order requiring them to pay the outstanding rent to you.

Read more about using the Section 8 accelerated possession procedure on the desktop lawyer website.

Do not attempt to evict the tenant yourself. Doing so is a criminal offence and you could be fined and/or sent to prison and ordered to pay for rehousing your tenant. You must apply through the courts for them to do this on your behalf.

The necessay legal forms & advice on completing them are available from Her Majasty's court service website.

How Important Is an Inventory?

The inventory is vital & probably your greatest piece of protection. Should you need to make a claim from the bond it is vital that the property is inspected before the tenancy begins & that both the landlord (or their agent) & the tenant have signed it.

It is this document that will form the benchmark should a dispute arise.

Ideally a similar exit survey should be conducted & if possible should also be signed by the tenant. This will leave only the costs of the remedial action to be decided & agreed.

How Long Is a 'Reasonable' Period for a Repair?

This will depend upon the kind of repair. As a rule of thumb, 28 days is often considered reasonable for repairs that are not urgent, and for urgent repairs it's often one to two days.

How Long Will My Tenancy Last ?

The vast majority of property these days are let on what is known as "Assured Shorthold Tenancies". Though there are other types of tenancy or license we will concentrate on Shortholds.

Normally a shorthold tenancy will run for 6 or12 months, this gives you a fixed period for which you will have the right to occupy the property. Equally you will have the duty to pay the rent for that property.
At the end of the fixed period there are choices:

  1. You can leave the property & claim back your deposit
  2. The landlord may offer you another fixed term period
  3. The landlord may allow the tenancy to roll over.

If the landlord chooses to allow the tenancy to "roll over" it can only be brought to an end by either party giving sufficient notice. Normally this would be 2 months for the landlord or 1 month for the tenant.

I Feel the Condition of My Property May Affect My Health?

What is HHSRS?

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is a new risk assessment tool used to assess potential risks to the health and safety of occupants in residential properties in England and Wales. The legislation came into effect in England on 6 April 2006 and will come into effect in Wales later in 2006.

HHSRS replaces the Housing Fitness Standard, which was set out in the Housing Act 1985.

Why is it needed?

The new assessment method focuses on the hazards that are most likely to be present in housing. Tackling these hazards will make more homes healthier and safer to live in. The Fitness Standard does not deal with, or deals inadequately with, cold and falls for example.

Who does it affect?

All owners and landlords, including social landlords.

The private sector contains some of the worst housing conditions and owners and landlords should be aware that any future inspections of their property will be made using HHSRS.

Private landlords and managing agents are advised to assess their property to determine whether there are serious hazards that may cause a health or safety risk to tenants. They should then carry out improvements to reduce the risks.

Public sector landlords also need to incorporate HHSRS into their stock condition surveys. To be decent, homes should be free of category 1 hazards.

This does not mean that social landlords have to reassess their stock before 6 April. Landlords should incorporate HHSRS into their next planned stock condition survey and deal with category 1 hazards during planned refurbishment.

Tenants should be aware of the new approach taken by local authorities to deal with bad housing conditions. They still have discretion over the action they take but they are more likely to prioritize cases where there is some evidence of serious hazards.

How does it work?

A risk assessment looks at the likelihood of an incident arising from the condition of the property and the likely harmful outcome. For example, how likely is a fire to break out, what will happen if one does?
The assessment will show the presence of any serious (category 1) hazards and other less serious (category 2) hazards.
To make an assessment, local authority inspectors will make reference to the HHSRS "Operating Guidance". During an inspection they may take notes manually or may use a programme on a hand held computer.

How is it enforced and what are the penalties?

If a local authority discovers serious category 1 hazards in a home, it has a duty to take the most appropriate action.
Local authorities are advised to try to deal with problems informally at first.

But if this is unsuccessful, they could require a landlord to carry out improvements to the property. For example by installing central heating and insulation to deal with cold, fix a rail to steep stairs to deal with the risk of falls, or mend a leaking roof. Local authorities also have powers to prohibit the use of the whole or part of a dwelling or restrict the number of permitted occupants. Where hazards are modest they may serve a hazard awareness notice to draw attention to a problem. Where an occupier is at immediate risk, the authority can take emergency remedial action.

A property owner who feels that an assessment is wrong can discuss matters with the inspector and ultimately will be able to challenge an enforcement decision through the Residential Property Tribunal.

Failure to comply with a statutory notice could lead to a fine of up to £5,000.

More information

The government has issued guidance on HHSRS for landlords and other property related professionals. This can be found on the Communities and Local Government website

My Landlord Is Trying to Evict Me

This is a complicated & difficult area but we will try & keep this as clear as possible

To prevent illegal eviction/harassment of people in their home

ONLY COURT APPOINTED BAILIFFS MAY CARRY OUT LEGAL EVICTIONS

"Due process" must be followed

Notice must be given, court application, possession order & Bailiffs warrant

(This does not apply if you share the property with the landlord)

To legally terminate an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement in England or Wales at the end of the fixed term, the landlord must serve a Section 21 Possession Notice on the tenant and must give the tenant a minimum of two months' notice.

If possession is sought by the landlord during the fixed term then it can only be obtained if a breach of contract has been proved and a Section 21 Possession Notice would not be appropriate. A Section 8 Possession Notice should be used instead.

Section 21 is divided into subsections with different rules applying to (a) notice served during the fixed term of a tenancy and (b) notice for possession that is served during a statutory periodic tenancy.

Notice served during fixed term (Housing Act 1988)

Section 21(1)(b)

This notice applies to a fixed term Assured Shorthold Tenancy where Notice for Possession is served during the fixed term. Notice under this subsection can be served on a tenant at any time during the fixed term of the tenancy (but not before the fixed term begins) providing the tenant receives a minimum of two months' notice. This is the case even if the two months' notice ends after the Tenancy Agreement has expired. For example, if Notice Requiring Possession is served on the last day of the Tenancy Agreement, the tenant does not have to give up possession of the property until two months after the date that the notice was served or until the date written in the notice if it is further than two months away. It should be noted that where the tenant is in the initial six months of the tenancy, then the Section 21 Notice cannot expire before the end of that six months.

The notice should be sent by recorded delivery, allowing 3 days for delivery.

Section 8 Notice

The landlord may be able to terminate an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement during the fixed term if the tenant has failed to pay rent or has breached any other terms of the Tenancy Agreement. The landlord must rely on certain grounds set out in Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988, which are listed below.

The landlord cannot evict the tenant without obtaining an order for possession issued by a court and before applying to the court for such an order, the landlord must serve a Section 8 Possession Notice on the tenant. The notice states that the landlord intends to seek possession of the property and states the ground or grounds on which possession is sought.

The amount of notice required to be given to the tenant will depend on the ground: if the landlord is relying on ground 2, two months' notice must be given. If the landlord is relying on grounds 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 14A, 15 or 17, two weeks' notice must be given. Grounds 2 and 8 are mandatory, which means that if a landlord proves that one of these grounds applies, the court has no choice but to award him possession. The other grounds are discretionary and the court will only award possession if it is reasonable to do so.

  • Ground 2 - The property is subject to a mortgage which pre-dates the tenancy and the lendor wishes to exercise its rights over the property, i.e. repossess it. A notice under this ground must be served before the creation of the tenancy.
  • Ground 8 - At the date of service of the notice and at the date of the hearing, the tenant has not paid the rent, and either rent is payable weekly or fortnightly and at least eight weeks' rent is unpaid; or rent is payable monthly and at least two months' rent is unpaid; or rent is payable quarterly and at least one quarter's rent is more than three months in arrears.
    • Note: When claiming possession under this ground, it is advisable to cite more than one ground since, if the tenant pays off part of the arrears shortly before the hearing, this ground can no longer be proved and possession proceedings will have to be abandoned. It is, therefore, common practice to cite more than one ground for rent arrears (i.e. grounds 8, 10 & 11), if applicable, and to also wait until at least two months' rent (or eight weeks in the case of a weekly tenancy) is unpaid before issuing the Section 8 Notice.
  • Ground 10 - Any amount of rent is in arrears at the date of service of the notice and remains unpaid on the date on which the proceedings for possession are begun.
  • Ground 11 - The tenant has repeatedly failed to pay rent.
  • Ground 12 - The Tenant has breached any term of the tenancy agreement (other than one relating to the payment of rent).
  • Ground 13 - The property has deteriorated due to neglect by the tenant or by someone living with him and the tenant has failed to remove that person.
  • Ground 14 - The tenant or someone living with him has caused a nuisance to neighbours, visitors or others in the locality or has been convicted of using the property for immoral or illegal purposes or has been convicted of an indictable offence committed in the locality.
  • Ground 14A - The property is occupied by a couple and one of them has left due to violence or threats of violence from the other partner or from a member of that partner's family who was living in the property also. This notice can only be used by a registered social landlord or a charitable housing trust. The tenant who has left must also be sent this notice.
  • Ground 15 - The furniture has been ill-treated by the tenant or by someone living with him and the tenant has failed to remove that person.
  • Ground 17 - The landlord was induced to grant the tenancy by a false statement made knowingly or recklessly by either the tenant or a person acting at the tenant's instigation.

The Section 8 Possession Notice can be used in England and Wales where one or more of the above grounds are being relied on.

Should I Have a Rent Book?

By law, a landlord has to provide a rent book to somebody who pays rent weekly, unless the rent includes a substantial payment for meals. The rent book must contain:

  • The name and address of the landlord and the landlord's agent if there is one
  • The amount of rent to be paid
  • Description of the property the rent is for
Should I Have Been Given an Inventory?

The inventory can be very useful in the event of a dispute. Even in unfurnished accommodation it is worth insisting on an inventory as this will clearly state the condition of the property including decoration, floor coverings & curtains.

State of repair & cleanliness are the two most likely reasons why landlords withhold all or part of the deposit. An inventory signed & agreed by landlord & tenant gives you hard evidence of what you accepted at the beginning of the tenancy.

On receipt of the inventory, don't just accept it. Examine the property carefully & note any faults, dirt or marks. Only sign it when the items you have noticed have been added.

Should I Stop Paying the Rent and/or Get the Repairs Done Myself?

The general rule is that you should never stop paying the rent to try and force your landlord to do repairs. If you do, your landlord may go to court to make you leave your home because you are behind with the rent.

What's the Best Way to Ask My Landlord to Carry Out a Repair?

When a repair is needed you should tell the landlord as soon as possible. It's always a good idea to put your request in writing and to keep a copy of the letter. You should give the landlord a 'reasonable' period of time within which to carry out the repair.

What Are the Consequences of Not Protecting the Deposit

Where the landlord does not inform the tenant of the whereabouts of the deposit, the tenant can apply to the local courts. The courts can then order the landlord to either repay the deposit or get it protected.

If the courts wishes are not carried out within 14 days the landlord will be ordered to repay three times the amount of the deposit to the tenant within 10 days.

Futhermore where the deposit has not been protected the landlord can not evict the tenant using a Section 21. Therefore, by not securing the deposit you will not be able to get your house back and face a large fine.

What Happens at the End of a Shorthold Period

Assuming you are happy for your present tenant to remain you have two choices. You can either offer another fixed term contract & both parties, assuming they agree, will be bound by those terms for that period.

Alternatively you can let the present tenancy roll on. (Periodic tenancy)

By issuing a new shorthold the landlord gains the security of another fixed term but may incure additional administrative costs & will not be able to regain possession of the property until the end of the fixed period. In addition some agents may charge the tenant an additional fee. This can annoy tenants who may be less willing to renew next time.

By creating a periodic tenancy (allowing the tenancy to roll on) reduces costs & can make it easier for landlords to gain possession should they wish to.

What if I Don't Have My Landlord's Details?

You have a legal right to be given the name and address by the landlord's agent or the person you pay rent to. If you put this request in writing to your landlord's representative, they have an obligation to provide you with this information within 21 days, or they risk prosecution.

Alternatively, you can find out the name and address of your landlord for a small fee, through the Land Registry .

What if I Rent Out a Room Out in My Own Home?

If you let out a room in the house in which you live yourself your tenant is treated as a lodger and has very few rights in law. You will not have to go through court proceedings to evict and you can adjust the rent as you please

What Insurance Do I Need?

The building itself is insured against most risks such as flood and fire for the cost or repair or rebuilding. Even risks such as terrorism or subsidence can normally be purchased as optional extras for added security from most insurers.

It is important to remember that you when you declare the value of your property you are actually estimating the cost of rebuilding it should it be totally destroyed (this is what insurance companies call a total loss). Most insurance companies work out a rate to charge the landlord based on the location of the property and then apply it to the amount specified to rebuild the building (which is called the Buildings Sum Insured). It is therefore cheaper to insure a building that is worth less than an expensive building which is as expected.

It is equally important to make sure that you do not underestimate the cost of rebuilding your property. If you have paid a lower premium by underestimating the Buildings Sum Insured, then the insurer will normally only pay your claims up to the proportion of the building that you have insured. For example: If your house is worth £100,000 but you only declare a Buildings Sum Insured of £60,000; should you have a claim of £10,000 then the insurer will only pay you £6,000 as they will deem that you under-insured. It is important not to be caught out by this by being tempted by lower premiums for lower Buildings Sum Insured.

What Paperwork Should I Expect?
  • The Contract (Assured Shorthold Tenancy)
  • Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
  • Inventory
  • Gas Safety Certificate
What Safety Certificates Should I Have?

Gas safety:

You will be required by law to have all gas equipment checked & certificated by a registered Gas Safe engineer. All equipment must be certified as safe every 12 months. The consequences of failing to comply can be very serious with hefty fines or even imprisonment should there be an accident.

Energy Performance Certificate:

Each new let will now require an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate). The certificate lasts 10 years, but landlords may consider having it reviewed should insulation improvement works be carried out or improvements to the heating system. A copy of the certificate must be passed to the tenant.

Electrical Equipment

If you let property you must ensure that the electrical system and all appliances supplied are safe - failure to comply with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and the The Consumer Protection Act 1987 is a criminal offence and may result in:

  • A fine of £5,000 per item not complying
  • Six month's imprisonment
  • Possible manslaughter charges in the event of deaths
  • The Tenant may also sue you for civil damages
  • Your property insurance may be invalidated
  • These regulations are enforced by the Health & Safety Executive.

There is no statutory requirement to have annual safety checks on electrical equipment as there is with gas, but it is advisable for landlords to have periodic checks done by a qualified electrician

What Type of Tenancy Do I Have?

The vast majority of people who rent their home are on assured shorthold tenancies (AST), but other agreements do exist which afford different levels of rights.

For tenants who are not on an AST, if they are a council or housing association tenant then they may be on a secured or assured tenancy which holds increased rights against eviction and for passing on tenancies.

In contrast, if a tenant lives in accommodation that is occupied by their landlord, rented from the Crown, a student residence, or a hostel or bed and breakfast then they may have only basic rights.

People whose accommodation is provided by their job or is part of agricultural premises are covered by different rules.

If your rent is more than £25,000 a year, you will have a standard tenancy contract, not an assured shorthold tenancy contract. This is a throwback to when ASTs were first introduced and £25,000 annual rent was a very high amount. However, many London rents and families homes outside the capital will be above this figure now, it represents just over £2,000 per month, and the Government is considering raising it.

When Can the Landlord Enter the Property?

Your landlord can only enter the property having given "reasonable notice". This normally means 24 hours and only then if you agree!.

If your landlord enters your home without giving notice this may be regarded as harassment. You can contact your Private Sector Housing Team for further advice.

Who Is Responsible for Repairs?

Your landlord has a responsibility to make sure the property or accommodation you are renting is maintained to a certain standard.

Repairs

Unless the tenancy has a fixed term of more than seven years, the landlord is responsible for repairs to:

  • The structure and exterior of the property
  • Baths, sinks, basins and other sanitary installations
  • Heating and hot water installations

Responsibility for other repairs depend on what agreement (if any) you have arranged with your landlord. The landlord is not responsible for repairing damage a tenant has caused. The rent the landlord charges can include a sum to cover the cost of repairs - but the landlord cannot pass this cost on to the tenant in the form of a separate service charge.

Safety of gas and electrical appliances

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

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.

Landlords should also ensure that the electrical system and any electrical appliances that they supply (such as cookers, kettles, toasters, washing machines and immersion heaters) are safe to use.

Why Can't I Buy Normal Home Insurance for a Buy to Let Property?

By renting a property out to a tenant, you are effectively operating as a business, even if the income is very small. For this reason you must purchase business insurance, of which Landlord Liability is a subset. As a landlord you have legal responsibilities towards your tenants in a way that you do not have for your own home. A landlord insurance policy covers you for this.

Last updated: Mon 22nd August, 2011 @ 16:01

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