Compliance checklist – what do new landlords need to know?

News at Howland Jones | 31/12/2021

Before you become a landlord, there’s a lot to get your head around in terms of compliance, regulation and legislation.

This has become increasingly difficult to keep track of in recent years, with lots of new rules and obligations being introduced, but as a landlord you have a legal and moral duty to keep your tenants safe, so it’s vitally important that you don’t cut corners or lack awareness of your responsibilities.

Here, using our years of experience operating in the lettings sector, we outline some of the things new landlords need to consider from a compliance perspective.

Legionella risk assessments

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), private landlords have a number of responsibilities when it comes to legionella.

The HSE describes Legionnaires' disease as a potentially fatal form of pneumonia caused by the inhalation of small droplets of contaminated water containing Legionella. All man-made hot and cold water systems are likely to provide an environment where Legionella can grow, the HSE adds.

In favourable conditions, the bacteria can multiply, therefore increasing the risk of exposure. The HSE says it is a simple fact that the organism will colonise both large and small systems so both require risks to be managed effectively.

The law is very clear on this subject – if you are renting out your property, then you have legal responsibilities to ensure the health and safety of your tenant by keeping the property safe and free from health hazards, including legionella. 

You can find out more about your responsibilities on legionella by clicking here.

Housing Health & Safety Rating System

The Housing Health & Safety Rating System (or HHSRS) is a risk-based evaluation tool to help local authorities identify and protect against potential risks and hazards to health and safety from any deficiencies identified in dwellings.

Introduced under the Housing Act 2004, it applies to residential properties in England and Wales and is an assessment method which focuses on the hazards that are present in housing. The guidance can be seen here.

While HHSRS is not mandatory yet, it is expected to be at some point and here at Howland Jones we already do a version of it as part of our management.

Carbon monoxide alarms

The government recently announced that all social homes will be required to have smoke alarms fitted to keep tenants safe, bringing the social sector in line with the privately rented sector, which has had similar obligations in place for some time now.

The announcement means housing providers will now be required by law to install smoke alarms in all social housing, and carbon monoxide alarms must be fitted in social and private rented properties with fixed appliances such as gas boilers or fires.

The change in regulation will also require that:

  • Carbon monoxide alarms to be fitted when new appliances such as gas boilers or fires are installed in any home.
  • Landlords and housing providers in social and private rented sectors to repair or replace smoke and carbon monoxide alarms once they are told they are faulty.

You can read more about the announcement here.

Private sector landlords have been required since October 1 2015 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 (for example a coal fire or a wood burning stove). Following this, the landlord must make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy. Fines of up to £5,000 can be levied on those who don’t comply.

You can read more about what is required from private landlords when it comes to smoke and carbon monoxide alarms by clicking here.

As well as the above, there are other considerations surrounding gas safety, deposit protection, energy efficiency, tenant fees, electrical installations and a host of other things.

With so much to think about, it pays for landlords to partner with an experienced, knowledgeable letting agency – who can take the hassle out of the lettings experience for you. There are a huge number of lettings laws to come to terms with, and these can prove overwhelming.

But by having someone on and by your side, you can ensure all your tenancies go off smoothly and you are providing clean, safe, habitable homes to your tenants.

For more information about what Howland Jones can do for you if you are starting out on your landlord journey, please get in touch with us today.

We will do all we can to help you get the most from your rental properties. Our offices are based in the village of Measham in the East Midlands, and we operate within a 20-mile radius of our base, giving us extensive knowledge of the local area. Measham sits on the border of four counties and we are almost equidistant from Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Birmingham.

You can find out all about us by getting in contact here.