Author Archives: Sheffield

New Regulations on Smoke and CO2 Alarms – Warning to Residential Landlords


The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulation 2015 are expected to come into force on 1st October 2015. They impose a duty on landlords of residential premises in England to:-

  • Install a smoke alarm on each storey of premises that are wholly or partly used as living accommodation.
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm in any room that is used wholly or partly used as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance.
  • Ensure that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in proper working order at the start of a new tenancy.


A new tenancy means a tenancy granted on or after the 1st October 2015. A relevant landlord is the immediate landlord of the premises although a registered provider of social housing is not caught by these regulations.

The new regulations apply to new tenancies after the 1st October 2015 but they do not apply to an occupier who shares accommodation with a resident landlord, student halls of residence, hostels, refuges, hospital, hospices and care homes.

To ensure compliance with the regulations, the Local Housing Authority has power to enforce the regulations. If a Local Housing Authority believes that a landlord has not complied with the regulations, they will serve a Remedial Notice on the landlord. The landlord must then comply with the Remedial Notice within 28 days and if the Local Housing Authority believes, on the balance of probabilities that the landlord is in breach of the landlord’s duty to comply with the Remedial Notice, the authority may require the landlord to pay a penalty charge. The penalty charge will be the amount that the authority determines but has a maximum cap of £5,000.


Houses in Multiple Occupation

It will become a licence condition of HMO’s that a smoke alarm is installed on every storey of the HMO or part 3 house and a carbon monoxide alarm is installed in any room which contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance.



 These regulations further increase the burden and responsibilities placed on landlords. The purpose of the regulations is to reduce the number of injuries or death from smoke or carbon monoxide poisoning in the private rented sector. The fine for non-compliance is set deliberately high as a deterrent to landlords and aimed at persuading landlords to comply with these obligations and regulations.


By Terry Rogers



Drying your washing indoors ‘can pose a serious health risk’

Drying your washing indoors can pose a serious health risk to people with weakened immune systems or severe asthma, doctors have warned.

Clothes draped on drying frames or warm radiators can raise moisture levels in the home by up to 30 per cent, creating ideal breeding conditions for mould spores.

Experts are particularly concerned about Aspergillus fumigatus spores, which can cause lung infections. Professor David Denning and his team at the National Aspergillosis Centre in Manchester have issued the warning after treating a growing number of patients who have inhaled Aspergillus fungal spores. Professor Denning said: ‘One load of wet washing contains almost two litres of water, which is released into the room. Most of us are either immune to the fungus which grows in these humid conditions, or have sufficiently healthy system to fight the infection. ‘But in asthma sufferers it cab produce coughing and wheeziness, and inn people with weak or damaged immune systems, such as cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, Aids patients and people who have an auto immune disease, the fungus can cause pulmonary Aspergillosis – a condition which can cause irreparable, and sometimes fatal, damage to the lungs and sinuses. My advise would be when in doubt dry wet washing outside, in a tumble dryer or in a well-ventilated indoor space away from bedrooms and living areas to be safe rather than sorry’

Craig Mather, a father of three from Bolton, contracted tuberculosis in 1997. The disease left his lungs weak and aggravated the problems he had been left with after childhood asthma.

Mr Mather, 43, said: ‘I only started to recover when my consultant diagnosed chronic pulmonary Aspergillosis and prescribed me special drugs to fight the fungal infection. However, I noticed coughing fits and night sweats particularly when I had wet washing drying on the warm bedroom radiator. He told me that it could be making my problems worse, so for the last 12 months I haven’t dried my clothes indoors and I’ve noticed a huge improvement  in my health.’

Aspergillosis is the name of a group of conditions caused by a fungal mould called Aspergillus. It usually affects the windpipe, sinuses and lungs, but it can spread to anywhere in the body. Depending on a number of factors, the symptoms of Aspergillosis can vary in severity from mild wheezing to coughing up blood. A previous study carried out by the Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow found many homes had too much moisture. Up to a third of this moisture was attributed to drying laundry. Researchers called on house builders to build dedicated drying areas into new housing to address the health concerns.


By Terry Rogers


Rentguard Insurance – Important Notice: IPT Rate Changes


As you may already be aware, there are impending changes to UK IPT charges, which will come into effect from the 1st November 2015.

The standard rate on all products we offer will rise from 6% to 9.5% (excluding Travel Insurance which will remain at 20%)

You may find this most noticeable on renewal premiums, as this may affect the price at which it is offered.

For a detailed breakdown of the changes, please see the points below:

  • The higher rate (5%) tax is to be applied at the date the contract was ‘made’, HMRC have defined ‘made’ as meaning the date at which the policy incepts. Therefore any new or renewal policy which has an effective date from the 1st November or later will be charged at a higher rate.
  • All policies which start before this date will remain at 6%.
  • Additional premiums in respect of policies which incepted prior to the 1st November implementation date may be taxed at the current 6% rate if they are processed before the 1st March 2016.
  • Return premiums must be processed using the rate of tax customers were charged when cover commenced irrespective of the date at which they are processed.
  • From the 1st March 2015 all transactions, irrelevant of the start date will attract the higher rate.


Our systems will be automatically adjusted to allow for the changes, meaning there will be no disruption to our service or action required from yourselves.


As always, if you wish to discuss this or any matter with Rentguard Insurance, please call their Customer Services team on 020 85871 060.


By Terry Rogers

smoke alarm


 Subject to parliamentary approval, private rented sector landlords will be required to have working smoke alarms on every floor of their property and carbon monoxide alarms in rooms where a solid fuel heating system is installed. Alarms must be tested at the start of every new tenancy. The regulations do not stipulate the type of alarm to be installed; rather, landlords should make an informed decision and choose the best alarm for their circumstances and property. Landlords who fail to comply with the duties outlined in the regulations may be subject to a civil penalty.


In properties managed by Castle Estates whilst conducting our regular inspections, Castle Estates will check to confirm that the property complies with the new legislation.


Should the property fail to comply, a battery operated smoke or carbon monoxide alarm will be fitted and charged to the landlord.


Should any landlord prefer a more sophisticated linked hard wire system, please advise and a quotation will be obtained and agreed prior to any commencement of work.


For further information, please refer to the relevant guidance at


Comes into effect: 1st October 2015

By Terry Rogers




New regulations introduced by all councils mean that from the 1st April, 2013 the class C excemption allowed where a property is empty and unfurnished will end.


All councils have replaced this with new charges which are broadly in line with each other and which we have highlighted below.


For the full description of the changes you need to go onto the relevant councils website.



10% discount for a maximum of 6 months where the property is empty and unfurnished, after this period full council tax is payable.



100 % discount for the first 3 months where the property is empty and unfurnished, after this period full council tax is payable.


100 % discount for the first 3 months where the property is empty and unfurnished, after this period full council tax is payable.



100 % discount for the first 3 months where the property is empty and unfurnished, after this period full council tax is payable.


100 % discount for the first 3 months where the property is empty and unfurnished, after this period full council tax is payable.


By Terry Rogers

By Terry Rogers

If you are a pet owner looking to move into a rental property you will perhaps already know that finding a Landlord who is willing to accept isn’t as easy as it sounds! Many Landlords prefer not to accept cats and dogs due to the damage caused by them and irresponsible owners.

Of course, Landlords know that the majority of pet owners are responsible and wouldn’t have a pet in the first place if they weren’t going to care for it. The issue here is that it only takes one irresponsible owner or uncaring tenant to cause a huge amount of grief for a Landlord.

Tenant Referencing Prior to Tenancy

Most letting agencies, including us, have a process of referencing a tenant prior to them being agreed for a tenancy. The vetting process (no pun intended!) usually includes credit & employer checks along with a reference from their current Landlord. The credit checks won’t tell a Landlord if they care for their current property but their previous Landlord reference might just do that.

Credit referencing agencies usually ask the referee to complete a questionnaire based on how the tenant has behave or how they have performed their obligations. It is always difficult to give a bad reference as by doing this, a Landlord could find themselves with a tenant who is unable to move as no-one else will accept them! However, if someone refuses to give a reference they usually have a good reason why and this should start to ring alarm bells for the prospective Landlord.

Additional Deposits for Pets

As a general rule through Castle Estates we usually ask for an extra £100 in the deposit per pet, subject to the Landlords approval. (You will probably find that most agencies around the country have a similar system with the additional cost varying.) We find this works quite well as this re-iterates the point to the tenant that the property must be looked after because there is more money in the pot to be lost if they don’t and the Landlord can sleep soundly knowing that there is more deposit money available should it be needed.

Undeclared Pets Cause Upset for Landlords

Some tenants feel that they have to keep their pets a secret which is bad news all round. You will find that most tenancy agreements contain a standard clause that prevents any animals being kept at a property which means that, if the Landlord finds out about the ‘secret pet’, they could have valid reason to ask you to leave the property.

A recent case that came through our office was that of a tenant who had moved into one of our managed properties and, a few months into the tenancy agreement, began looking after a family members dog. To be fair, the tenant had suggested that the dog had no-where else to go but this shouldn’t have prevented them from asking for permission and instead they left it until one of our periodic visits when we found the dog sat looking up at us in the hallway! The Landlord in this instance was reasonable and gave the tenant plenty of notice for which to have the dog removed form the property and after a lot of aggravation (and damage to the property by said tenants) the property was eventually returned to its original state.

Pets That Leave Their Unwanted Guests Behind!

Another problem that we have heard is when a tenant with a dog has left the property and at the final handover, everything appears to be fine. It was only later on, once their deposit had been returned, and a viewing was taking place that little black blobs started to appear on the viewers’ legs. Fleas!

I looked into this and found that fleas can lay eggs and will only hatch when they are vibrated. Whilst they are laid on the back of a cat or dog this is usually only a problem for the animal but once they find their way into the carpets you probably won’t even know they are there! With this particular property being completely empty until the viewing took place, the eggs had lay dormant until the carpets were walked over again.

It is always a recommendation that any carpets or fabrics are thoroughly cleaned at the end of the tenancy and, if done professionally, keep the receipt as proof!

21st September, 2012

By Terry Rogers

Enviroloft Ltd. provides FREE loft insulation for all households regardless of your circumstance.

Help reduce your energy bills by up to £175 a year

Loft insulation acts like a blanket, helping prevent heat escaping through the roof.  Insulating your home isn’t a one off saving either, it will keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, helping you to save money on your energy bills year after year.

It’s straightforward and usually takes less than a day to install. Loft insulation is a thick material simply rolled onto the loft floor.

The Benefits.

Save up to £175 a year on your energy bills.

It’s quick and only usually takes less than a few hours if there is good access.

Convenient and hassle free installation and we tidy up after.

Helps reduce heat loss.

Save around 720kg of CO2 every year.

It’s 100% FREE!

By Terry Rogers

For homeowners and tenants that reside in a house where the flue is not visible, there are now new regulations that you will need to adhere to. Inspection hatches MUST be installed from January 1st 2011. 2 years will be given to the homeowner or landlord to ensure these inspection hatches are fitted, but carbon monoxide alarms must be installed until the hatch has been completed.

Safety checks need to be carried out by gas engineers that (by law) need to be able to see the flue. A flue takes fumes away from the boiler and if it is poorly maintained, or your boiler is not working correctly, can put you in serious danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. These safety checks will include the requirement for an audible carbon monoxide alarm to be installed – which will detect any problems with the invisible and odourless gas.

Gas engineers will legally be able to turn off the gas supply to your boiler From January 1st 2013, until the inspection hatches have been fitted in a suitable location in the home.

It is advisable to contact the builder if your property is less than two years old. If the property is between two and ten years old, then you may be covered by home warranty providers to have the inspection hatches installed. For older buildings – built pre-2000 – you will need to contact a Gas Safe registered engineer. Landlords need to ensure that the hatches are fitted and that the boiler and flue are checked every year, so tenants should contact their landlord to check he/she is aware of the new law.

Installing carbon monoxide alarms are essential to monitor any problems until the inspection hatches have been installed.

By Terry Rogers

House of Lords hears praise of SAFEagent scheme

The SAFEagent scheme has been mentioned in the House of Lords as an example of the kind of voluntary initiative the Government wants to see in raising standards.

But mandatory regulation of the private rented sector was not ruled out.

It happened during a debate on an amendment to the Localism Bill.

The amendment, which was sponsored by ARLA, was to insert a new clause into the Bill that would enable the statutory regulation of private letting agents to be introduced at some point.

The amendment was also supported by the British Property Property Federation, Residential Landlords Association and housing charities.

Responding at the end of a lengthy debate, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, a Conservative peer and House of Lords whip, said: “Around two-thirds of landlords let and manage their property through an agent, so it is important that they can rely on a good service.

“We are aware of poor practice within the letting and management agent sector, but regulation already exists in this area.

“Between a third and a half of all agents belong to voluntary schemes which set standards and offer redress when things go wrong, including client money protection.

“Unfortunately, far too few consumers of the agency system – both landlords and tenants – are aware of the risks of using an unregulated agent.

“I am delighted that the Government have been able to endorse the Safe Agent Fully Endorsed scheme – SAFE – recently launched by the industry which highlights a key risk around clients’ money.
“We want to explore these voluntary approaches further before a move to statutory regulation, but we do not rule this out in the longer term. However, we cannot support the introduction of enabling powers where we have no plans for their use.”

He went on: “I have considerable sympathy with those who have been caught out by bad practice, but for the reasons that I have set out we do not think that regulation now is the right answer.”

The amendment was withdrawn, with its proposer, Lord Shipley, saying: “If we are going to explore making the voluntary approaches better, and if we have not ruled out introducing statutory powers, I am content for the moment to work with that, but we are likely to find an increasing need to move down the statutory regulatory route. With those provisos, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.”

By Terry Rogers

Public and private sewers

Yorkshire Water sewerYou may not know that there are two types of sewer – private and public.  Responsibility for them is different and it’s expected to alter from October 2011.  We’ve created this page to explain the changes and what it means for you.

Subject to government approval, from October 2011 we’ll take responsibility for 22,000 kilometres of private sewer pipes, on top of the 33,000 kilometres of public sewers we already look after.  This is fantastic news as it provides greater clarity and takes the cost of maintenance and costly repairs away from the homeowner. 

Which pipes are the private sewer pipes?

The difference between a public sewer and a private sewer is a legal difference rather than a practical difference, but there are some general rules that usually apply.

  • The pipe that only serves your property is known as a drain, and is private.
  • Unless your house was built before 1 October 1937, the pipes taking surface water and waste water away from your property and neighbouring properties will be private.  See diagrams below.   
  • The sewers in the roads will generally be public sewers, which typically we’re responsible for.

Who’s responsible for the sewers?

A private sewer is currently the joint responsibility of the owners/occupiers of the properties that drain into it. This responsibility continues up to the point where the private sewer (including the connection) joins a public sewer, where we become responsible for maintenance and repairs. This means that customers can sometimes be responsible for repairs outside their property boundary.

Whether your property was built before 1 October 1937 or after has a bearing on who’s responsible for maintaining the pipework.  As you’ll see on the diagrams below, if your house was built after this point you’re responsible for all drains and sewers up to the main sewer in the road. If you live in a property built before 1 October 1937, responsibilities are shared and can depend on the type of property you live in.

This is all due to change in 2011 – read on for more information.

If your house was built after 1937


drain and sewer responsibilities post 1937

If your house was built before 1st 1937 Sewer and drain responsibilities pre 1937

We’d like to understand what you know about sewer responsibilities and see what you think about the plans for 2011.

Take part in our polls

How will responsibility change?

We’ll be taking over the responsibility for privately-owned sewers and lateral drains (the bit of your pipe that’s outside your boundary).  This is great news for us and you as it brings clarity to a confusing issue and passes the cost of repairs from homeowners to us.  There are currently disputes with us or neighbouring properties when things go wrong as ownership is often not clearly defined.  The change is expected to happen in 2011.

Drain and sewer responsibilities post 2011

Will all private sewers transfer straight away?

No, sewers that are connected to private pumping stations and treatment plants will not transfer automatically.  The government is still working to understand how this can be achieved.
Sewers that only carry surface water straight to a watercourse may also transfer at a later date.