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Frequently Asked Questions

Housing

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 and advice on completing them are available from Her Majasty's court service website.

Gas safety:

You will be required by law to have all gas equipment checked and 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 and 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.

We, or the contractors working for us will:

  • Help you identify the repair needed
  • Tell you the maximum time we will take to complete the repair
  • Offer you an appointment for all urgent and routine repairs at a time that is convenient to you
  • Write to you by post and confirm details of your repair,as well as any appointment that we made for you
  • Take care to protect your furnishings while doing repairs
  • Tidy up mess and remove rubbish within two working days of finishing the repair
  • Inspect ten per cent of all completed repairs to check the quality of work
  • Monitor our performance and quality of service and publish performance figures

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.

We will first make sure that it is our responsibility to do the repair. If it is, and we have enough information about the repair,an order will be placed with a contractor to carry out the work. Wherever possible, the order will be placed immediately.

When you report your repair we aim to offer an appointment for all urgent and routine repairs at a convenient time.

As well as explaining what day we will call, we will also confirm a morning or afternoon appointment.

For planned repairs which generally require an inspection, we aim to offer you an appointment before the work is done. Also at the time of inspection we'll arrange a further appointment for the work to be completed.

But not all repairs will need an appointment (work to the outside of your home, for example).

For emergency repairs you will need to guarantee access to your property for the following 24 hours.

You will not be given a set appointment but will be able to negotiate a time when you will be at home to make sure the emergency work can be done.

You will receive written confirmation of your appointment, and of the repair.

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 the Street Action Team for further advice.

The contractor can generally only do the work that has been ordered.

But if you have other repairs that are outstanding you should ask the contractor and depending on the nature of the job, they will try to complete that work wherever possible,

Please be aware that contractors also have other appointments with tenants that they must keep and do not always have the necessary equipment and materials to do other work.

For safety reasons some work can only be carried out by certain contractors, such as gas repairs that can only be done by Gas Safe registered plumbers.

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.

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.

Yes. Once a year, normally on the anniversary of your housing application, you will be sent a renewal form, which you must complete and return by the due date stated on the letter.

If you do not return the form, we will write and tell you that your housing application will be cancelled.

There are some people who are not eligible or do not qualify  to be included on the housing register. These are

  • people who are subject to Immigration Control under the 1996 Asylum and Immigration Act
  • people from abroad who are not subject to immigration control but who are not habitually resident in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland
  • people (including members of their household) whose behaviour makes them unsuitable to be a tenant
  • Certain home seekers with the financial means to meet their own housing need
  • Home seekers who lack the mental capacity to enter into and sustain a tenancy agreement
  • Home seekers from outside the sub-region – other than in exceptional circumstances, home seekers from outside the sub-region who have no local connection to any of the seven partner local authorities within the sub-region, and who are not existing tenants of a social housing provider, will not qualify for social housing.

For more detailed information contact Housing Choices Team

 

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 and at a different interest rate than your current deal and they may charge an arrangement fee.

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

The inventory is vital and 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) and 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 and if possible should also be signed by the tenant. This will leave only the costs of the remedial action to be decided & agreed.

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.

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