Monthly Archives: February 2013

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By Judith Loeffler 8 Feb 2013

It is the landlord’s responsibility that electrical installations in a rented property are safe when a tenancy begins and maintained in a safe condition throughout the tenancy. This does not just apply to equipment the landlord puts into a flat but also to equipment that a previous tenant might have left and the landlord chose to keep it for the new tenancy. This includes considerations of general lighting, sockets, emergency lighting, fire detection, fixed wiring and portable electrical equipment.

Most accidents in the home are due to faults of or misuse of domestic appliances, flexes, plugs or connectors. This can lead to  shock, burns, electrical explosions or fire. To minimise these health risks a landlord needs to 1. ensure electrical equipment is in good working order, 2. ensure there is no broken accessories and equipment, 3. prevent misuse of installations by providing operating and safety instructions, 4. keep equipment maintained in line with the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Whilst for unregulated private rental accommodation there is no legal obligation for periodic electrical installation checks, it is a private landlord’s duty under common law to supply properties that are safe to live in. Ways to minimise the risk of health hazards are

  • to have regular basic visual safety checks to ensure there are no broken sockets or switches, no signs of scorching around sockets, no overheating of electrical equipment, no damaged cables on portable equipment
  • to have a periodic electrical inspection report carried out by a registered electrician at least every 5 years or on change of tenancy
  • to only equip accommodation with portable appliances that have at least a CE mark  combined with periodic portable appliance testing (PATs)
  • to provide tenants with copies of operating and safety instructions for all electrical equipment
  • to ensure the property has a Residual Current Device (RCD) in the fuse box to cut off power in the event of a fault

By Judith Loeffler 8 Feb 2013

As landlords are well aware a deposit is the tenant’s money. To protect your property and your assets in case of a deposit dispute there’s some simple steps to take. The key is to have clear evidence of the condition of the property both before the tenancy starts ie at check in as well as at the end of the tenancy ie at check out stage. In case of a dispute the landlord needs to support their claims to the tenants deposit with evidence to make for a successful claim.

Areas featured most frequently in deposit disputes are 1.Cleaning, 2. Damage, 3. Redecoration. In documenting the before and after of a tenancy the inventory plays a key role. It needs to be done in a detailed, professional way, supported with photos as much as possible. Photographic evidence at check in and check out is equally good practice.  Any records throughout the tenancy are to be kept – in case a dispute arises this will form another key element to support your claim. To ensure a smooth end of any tenancy it is well worth informing the tenants about your expectations prior to check out to give them the best possible chance to end the tenancy without any deposit disputes arising – which is the best possible outcome for both, landlords and tenants.

At Castle Estates South London all of the above documentation is part of our standard operating procedure for managed properties to minimise the risk of any disputes arising.

By Judith Loeffler 8 Feb 2013

Scotland introduced private landlord licensing in 2004 requiring all private landlords to register with their local authority.  The objective is for all landlords to meet minimum standards and to remove the worst landlords from the sector. Landlord licensing is compulsory in Scotland, under discussion in Wales and Newham Council in England have just introduced it as of 1 Jan 2013.

In Scotland registration is aimed to establish that a landlord is fit and proper to let residential property which requires 1. not having committed an offence, 2. not having practised unlawful discrimination, 3. not having contravened any law relating to housing, landlord or tenant law.

In Wales discussions are under way for mandatory landlord licensing. A consultation paper was released on 6 July 2012 proposing

  • for all landlords in Wales to register; penalties for non registration include fines, rent free periods, not being able to serve Section 21 to end a tenancy or rent repayment order
  • for all landlords to pass a suitability test in order to become an approved landlord
  • for landlords to either be licensed themselves if they self manage their property or to use a licensed agent to do so

In England Newham Council in east London is becoming the first local authority to introduce a compulsory landlord registration as of 1 Jan 2013 – similarly to Scotland owners of privately rented homes have to declare criminal convictions and meet health and safety standards. Failure to obtain a license can carry a fine of up to £20,000, rent repayment orders or even the council stepping in to manage the property. Licensing fees have been set at £500 for a 5 year license.

For now, ministers oppose a national system for England and leave it to each council how best to target rogue landlords.