A gas safety certificate is a legal requirement that certifies that gas appliances and installations in the property have been checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer within the last 12 months and are safe to use. It is important to note that not having a valid gas safety certificate can result in legal consequences, including fines or imprisonment. Follow the link to find a Gas Safe Engineer near you.
The UK Government introduced the Right to Rent under the Immigration Act 2014, and tenants and landlords need to understand the implications of this act.
It restricts illegal immigrants from accessing rented accommodation in England by making all adult occupants prove they are legally in the UK before being granted a tenancy, done through a Right to Rent check.
A Right to Rent check is when a prospective adult occupant of a rental property shows their identity documents in-person to a landlord or letting agent.
The landlord/letting agent must take a copy of the documents seen and record the check as being completed. If a tenant has a time-limited right to rent (e.g. a visa or Biometric Residency Permit with an expiry date), the check must be done within 28 days of the tenancy start date, and the visa must be valid for the proposed tenancy start date.
The landlord/agent must:
A tenant can use acceptable documents to demonstrate their identity and Right to Rent depending on their nationality.
Options for EEA/Swiss citizens are:
Occupation of a rental property is conditional on all adult occupants demonstrating a valid Right to Rent before the tenancy start date. City Realtor can do this at any of our branches. If any adult occupant fails to present themselves and their original documents proving a valid Right to Rent, all occupants may only be allowed access to the rental property once this requirement is satisfied.
The purpose of licensing, especially for HMOs, is to ensure that residential accommodation within the Private Rented Sector (PRS) is safe, well-managed and of good quality, with a particular focus on safety.
A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is any residential property occupied by three or more people sharing facilities like a bathroom and kitchen who form two or more ‘households’.
A household is either a single person or members of the same family who live together. A family includes people who are:
Some domestic staff would be included in the household if they are living in the house due to the terms of their contract, e.g. an adult carer and up to three people receiving care are a single household.
This applies nationwide for HMOs where there are five or more occupants in a property of three or more storeys, and the tenants comprise two or more households.
This is at the discretion of the borough and can affect all rental properties regardless of size, number of storeys, or number of occupants. For example, a council can instigate compulsory licensing of all residential rental properties within a street, ward or the whole borough.
Before granting a licence, the local authority must be satisfied that the property’s owner and any managing agent are fit and proper to hold a licence and that the property meets the required physical standards.
Once granted, the licence must be clearly displayed within the communal areas along with the licensee’s name, address and telephone number or property manager of the premises. A copy of the current gas safety certificate must also be on display.
If you are unsure whether your property needs to be licensed, please contact your local council – often, their website contains the relevant information.
Landlords are not allowed to evict existing tenants to avoid licensing. Any attempt to get a tenant out of a property that should be licenced but isn’t may be considered a crime under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 and the landlord or anyone else involved may be prosecuted. The Deregulation Act 2015 has also changed the law, so a valid notice cannot be served to end a tenancy if the property should be licenced but isn’t currently.
It is a criminal offence to operate an HMO that should be licenced but isn’t; if convicted, the fines for non-compliance are unlimited.
Local authorities also have various enforcement options, including the power to vary the terms of a granted HMO licence or to revoke an HMO licence.
Under a rent repayment order, landlords may have to pay back to a tenant any rent they have received or to the council any housing benefit they have received, up to a maximum of 12 months. The tenancy itself will not be affected if the landlord has failed to apply for or obtain an HMO licence. However, the council may take over property management as another method of enforcement.
No, a tenant cannot withhold rent.
If a landlord or managing agent allows an HMO to be occupied by more people/households than it is licenced for, then unless there is a reasonable excuse, they are committing a criminal offence, and the fines are unlimited. The licence may be entirely revoked if the breach is severe or persistent. The council must take over the HMO management if it revokes a licence.
If the council cannot grant a licence for an HMO, it will need to take over the management responsibility for the property until circumstances change, and it can then be licenced. Special rules apply when a council takes over the management of an HMO.
Whether or not the HMO is licenced, it should be reasonably free from hazards that might affect a tenant’s health and safety. The council is responsible for enforcing those standards and can require a landlord to take appropriate action to remedy any defects. In some emergency cases, the council may do the work itself.
The best way to see the licensing requirements for your area is to go to your local council’s website or get in touch with them directly.
Below are the contact details of the councils for the areas we cover: