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Attention Landlords: Legionnaires Disease

What is Legionnaires disease?

Legionnaires disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia which can affect anybody.  It is caused by the inhalation of small droplets of water from contaminated sources containing legionella bacteria.

The law is clear, according to the Health and Safety Executive, if a landlord rents out a property they have a legal responsibility to ensure the Health and Safety of tenants and their visitors, by maintaining the property as safe and free from health hazards, including the risk of Legionnaires disease.

Legionnaires disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia caused by the inhalation of small droplets of contaminated water containing Legionella bacteria.  All man made hot and cold water systems are likely to provide an environment where Legionella grow.  Where conditions are favourable (i.e. suitable growth temperature range, water droplets (aerosols) produced and dispersed; water stored and/or recirculated, some “food” for the organism to grow such as rust, sludge, scale, biofilm etc.) then the bacteria may multiply, thus increasing the risk of exposure.  It is a simple fact that the organism will colonise both large and small systems so both require risks to be managed effectively.

At Bowes Mitchell we can offer a Legionnaires disease assessment.  Whilst we are not experts in Legionnaires disease &/or water quality testing we will not be accountable as this issue is still the Landlord’s responsibility.  What our report, with photographs will identify, as seen, is:

  1. What water systems are evident in the property
  2. What water temperatures are measured
  3. Whether there is observable evidence of any dirt
  4. Scaling, sludging or other nutrients which can promote Legionella bacterial growth
  5. A summary of what possible follow up action may be needed.

The Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations 2015

From 1st October 2015 the regulations require private rented sector landlords to have:

  1. At least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their rental property which is used as living accommodation, and
  2. A carbon monoxide alarm in any room used as living accommodation where solid fuel is used.  However, as gas appliances can emit carbon monoxide, we would expect and encourage reputable landlords to ensure that working carbon monoxide alarms are installed in rooms with these.

Landlords must test on the first day of the tenancy, tenants should then take responsibility for their own safety and test all alarms regularly to make sure they are in working order.

Bowes Mitchell can provide a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm record certificate at the beginning of each tenancy or changeover.  This document is a record that on the day of inspection the alarms responded to artificial smoke in respect of smoke alarms and a calibrated source of carbon monoxide test gas at the higher level of the alarm point required by BS EN50291 in respect of the carbon monoxide alarms. 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/smoke-and-carbon-monoxide-alarms-explanatory-booklet-for-landlords/the-smoke-and-carbon-monoxide-alarm-england-regulations-2015-qa-booklet-for-the-private-rented-sector-landlords-and-tenants

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 places a continuous duty on landlords in England to maintain their property to the electrical safety standards and to have evidence of this. This means electrical inspection and testing in the private rented sector becomes mandatory as your property must meet the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations and you must have a report that shows this from a qualified person.

The full guidance for Landlords can be found:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/electrical-safety-standards-in-the-private-rented-sector-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities/guide-for-landlords-electrical-safety-standards-in-the-private-rented-sector

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 place an obligation on private landlords to ensure that electrical installations in the private rented sector are safe for continued use by checking compliance with the relevant electrical safety standards.

To whom do these regulations apply?

The regulations apply to private landlords for all new specified tenancies from 1 July 2020 and all existing tenancies from 1 April 2021. An ‘existing specified tenancy’ means a tenancy for a specified period of time that was granted before the regulations come into force, whereas a ‘new specified tenancy’ means a tenancy specified for a period of time granted on or after these regulations come into force.

In the UK, any property that is privately owned and being rented out as housing is classified as Private Rented Sector housing and the owner is considered to be the landlord. This includes houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), with the new regulations replacing the existing requirements for electrical testing of HMOs. A house is considered to be an HMO when it has at least three tenants forming more than one household, with the tenants sharing a toilet, bathroom or kitchen with the other tenants.

Newcastle City Council Licencing

You may or may not be aware that Newcastle City Council have managed to get a bill through Parliament to introduce a Proposed Selective and Additional Licensing scheme into the housing market in certain areas of Newcastle. The purpose of this legislation is to improve the standard of housing and help eradicate rogue landlords in the area. 

During the period of consultation local representation from the industry argued that they wouldn’t achieve their objective as rogue landlords simply ignore the law and would continue to do so.  Apart from being a money-making exercise it was felt that it would also financially penalise the good law-abiding landlords like yourself.  

Despite never having received any prior notification from the Council we now know that the new Property Licensing enactment will give them with the power to make landlords accountable for the management of their property and tenants. 

So, if you are receiving this email it’s because it will directly affect you as a landlord of a property in one of the Council’s designated areas that we manage on your behalf.

As the new legislation is due to come into force on 6th April 2020, I have attached to this email documentation and links to the Council’s website to keep you updated.  Could you please read these at your earliest convenience so that you’re aware of the changes and implications to you?

The links below not only outline the original proposal, but the compliance guide issued by Newcastle City Council within which are Appendices highlighting the streets and the fees involved.

https://www.newcastle.gov.uk/services/environment-and-waste/environmental-health-and-pollution/private-sector-housing-5
https://www.newcastle.gov.uk/sites/default/files/Property%20Licensing%20Guidance%20Feb%202020%20v2%20(2).pdf

To summarise:

  • Should you hold an existing HMO Licence then you do not need to apply for a Selective or Additional Licence.
  • A Licence will be granted for a maximum of 5 years.
  • For overseas landlords.  As licence holders must be based in the UK then we, as your agent, can be the Licence holder.
  • Licence applications should be made before commencement of the scheme.
  • Failure to do so may result in a criminal conviction and an unlimited fine, or a civil penalty of up to £30,000.
  • DO NOT forget the legislation comes into force on 6th April 2020.

A Landlord’s Responsibilities:

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1994 (as amended)

All gas equipment, pipework and appliances must accord with these Regulations including annual inspection by a Gas Safe registered installer and records maintained of work undertaken. A safety inspection must be completed satisfactorily prior to any letting and a Report provided to the Tenant and/or displayed at the Property. You warrant to Bowes Mitchell Estate Agents that, the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1994 as amended by the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) (Amendment) Regulations 1996 and (Amendment) (no.2) Regulations 1996, have and will continue to be fully complied with by you, as the Landlord. Please note, failure to comply with these Regulations is a criminal offence. A Landlord’s Gas Safety Record (CP12) is required by law to be given to the tenant at the commencement of their tenancy and a further test must be carried out each year upon expiry and given to the Tenant.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPC’s)

From 1 st October 2008, landlords in England and Wales must, by law, be required to provide their tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).  The landlord is responsible for ensuring a valid certificate is made available, even if a letting agent is managing their property and must reach a minimum 'E' rating on their EPC assessment. Once the certificate has been issued it is valid for 10 years, subject to any further legislation being introduced.

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 places a continuous duty on landlords in England to maintain their property to the electrical safety standards and to have evidence of this. This means electrical inspection and testing in the private rented sector becomes mandatory as your property must meet the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations and you must have a report that shows this from a qualified person.

The full guidance for Landlords can be found:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/electrical-safety-standards-in-the-private- rented-sector-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities/guide-for-landlords- electrical-safety-standards-in-the-private-rented-sector

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 place an obligation on private landlords to ensure that electrical installations in the private rented sector are safe for continued use by checking compliance with the relevant electrical safety standards.

To whom do these regulations apply?

The regulations apply to private landlords for all new specified tenancies from 1 July 2020 and all existing tenancies from 1 April 2021. An ‘existing specified tenancy’ means a tenancy for a specified period of time that was granted before the regulations come into force, whereas a ‘new specified tenancy’ means a tenancy specified for a period of time granted on or after these regulations come into force.

In the UK, any property that is privately owned and being rented out as housing is classified as Private Rented Sector housing and the owner is considered to be the landlord. This includes houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), with the new regulations replacing the existing requirements for electrical testing of HMOs. A house is considered to be an HMO when it has at least three tenants forming more than one household, with the tenants sharing a toilet, bathroom or kitchen with the other tenants.

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994

These regulations apply to the electrical supply along with new and second-hand equipment including mobile and fixed appliances e.g. kettles, irons, vacuum cleaners, cookers, etc. and require that the property and electrical contents are in safe working order.  You must arrange for such checks to be carried out in accordance with the Regulations.

Furniture & Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988/9(amended in 1993 & 2010)

You, as the Landlord, warrant to Bowes Mitchell Estate Agents that all furniture and furnishings in the property to be let and included in the letting (whether originally provided or added during the Tenancy) fully comply with the requirements of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 and all statutory instruments made under it including  the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 as amended by the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) (Amendment) Regulations 1989 and 1993.  Please note, failure to comply with these Regulations is a criminal offence.

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations 2015

From the 1st October 2015 the regulations require at least one smoke alarm installed on every floor of the rented property which is used as living accommodation, and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room used as living accommodation where solid fuel is used.  However, as gas appliances can emit carbon monoxide, we would expect a landlord to ensure that working carbon monoxide alarms are installed where appropriate.

Landlords must test alarms on the first day of the tenancy, tenants should then take responsibility for their own safety and test all alarms regularly to make sure they are in working order.

Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018

With effect from 20 th March 2019 there is a legal obligation on a landlord to make sure that the dwelling is fit for human habitation at the time the lease is granted and will remain fit for human habitation during the term of the lease. 

Legionnaires' Disease

In order to comply with the Health and Safety Executive's Code of Practice Landlords are strongly advised to carry out a risk assessment at the Property prior to letting especially if there are for example, open water tanks, cooling systems or a hot tub.  Bowes Mitchell requests that a copy of any written risk assessment is provided upon instruction. At Bowes Mitchell we can offer a Legionnaires’ disease assessment.  Whilst we are not experts in Legionnaires’ disease &/or water quality testing we will not be accountable as this issue is still the Landlord’s responsibility. By signing these Terms of Business, the Landlord acknowledges responsibility for the safety of the Tenant at the Property and confirms all risks regarding Legionnaires Disease have been considered and an assessment carried out.

HHSRS Assessment Report

The law is clear, according to the Health and Safety Executive, if a landlord rents out a property, they have a legal responsibility to ensure the Health and Safety of tenants and their visitors. All parts of a dwelling and associated surroundings (including structure, outbuildings, paths, garden or amenity space, boundaries and means of access) should provide a safe and healthy environment for any resident or visitor.

We now offer an assessment at the start of each tenancy which is chargeable. This document is a simplified view, designed to give landlords and agents an early warning to enable quick remedial work to head off any problems and to make the dwelling safer, using the same higher risk broad categories under which a local council might consider acting. You warrant to Bowes Mitchell Estate Agents that the legislation has and will continue to be fully complied with by you, the landlord and that an HHSRS Assessment is to be undertaken on your behalf.

Property Licensing for Landlords

From 6 April 2020 an additional 13,000 properties in the private rented sector will need to be licensed in Newcastle.  Landlords who are affected and fail to licence their property could be fined or even taken to court. To find out if you will need a licence visit www.newcastle.gov.uk/propertylicensing 

GENERAL INFORMATION:

Legal/Tax Advice – It must be stressed that this document is intended as a brief guide only. Bowes Mitchell cannot be held liable for any legal inaccuracies or omissions contained herein. We advise our clients to take appropriate professional advice.

Instructions to Solicitors – You, as the Landlord, will be informed of any arrears or breaches of the Tenancy brought to our attention. However, if legal action is required, you will be responsible for instructing your own Solicitor and for all fees involved unless you have opted for our Guarantee.

Landlords Responsibilities – The rent quoted to prospective tenants is inclusive of all outgoings for which landlords are legally responsible. This includes the payment of ground rent, service charge/maintenance costs, buildings insurance, mortgage repayments etc. The landlord is responsible for informing the relevant authorities of any change of tenancy (e.g. Water Rates and Council Tax).

GDPR (Data Protection) – All information held on file will be held in line with the new Data Protection Act 2017 which brings into law the provisions and requirements of the EU General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). 

Bowes Mitchell Estate Agents respect your privacy. We may collect your personal information such as name, email address, postal address, contact telephone numbers, gender & date of birth as you hereby authorise us to provide your contact details to the tenant/occupants of the property and to any utility company. Please note that this will include all telephone numbers including mobiles unless you, the Landlord, write instructing us not to.

We may also disclose your personal information to any competent law enforcement body, regulatory government agency, court or other third party where we believe disclosure is necessary:

  1. as a matter of applicable law or regulation.
  2. to exercise, establish or defend our legal rights.
  3. to protect your interests or those of any other person.
  4.  

Houses in Multiple Occupation – We are unable to apply for licenses for an HMO for Landlords and strongly recommend that if your property meets the criteria of being an HMO you ensure you have complied with the new legal requirements as the penalties are severe. In brief as a guide your house may be a licensable HMO if you have five or more person residing in the property, which consists of two or more families, and the house is three or more storeys (including habitable basements). If you are in any doubt as to whether your property is an HMO and further information is available on the government   website. Please note, criteria for HMO’s may vary between local authorities. It is your responsibility to ensure compliance with the relevant legislation.

Possession – Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 provides Landlords with rights of repossession at the expiration of an assured shorthold tenancy provided the Landlord has given the Tenant at least two months’ notice stating that repossession is required.  Similarly, two months’ notice is required to gain possession of Ground 1 Assured Tenancies and Statutory Periodic Tenancies. It is therefore imperative that a Landlord intending to repossess their property at the expiration of a tenancy gives appropriate notice in the prescribed form in writing prior to the expiration of the tenancy.

References – Unless specifically instructed otherwise (and agreed by us in writing) all references for tenants will be obtained from a specialist referencing company. We cannot be held liable for information obtained from any referencing agency. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of any reference, nor can we accept any responsibility resulting from the non- disclosure or inaccuracy of facts from the reference provider. Notwithstanding the obtaining of references, the final decision as to whether the tenant is suitable is yours. You may require the provision of a guarantee in addition or in substitution to satisfactory references being provided. This is, however, a matter for you to arrange should you so require. Copies of all references are available to Landlords upon request.

Taxes Act 1988 & Taxation of Income from Land (Non-Residents) Regulations 1995 - You, as the Landlord, are responsible for notifying HM Revenue and Customs of the tenancy.  Where the Landlord of a property resides abroad, HMRC will hold us, as your Agents, responsible for the payment of any tax liability which arises on rents collected by us on your behalf, unless as Exemption Certificate is provided by HMRC pursuant to the Finance Act 1995.  Bowes Mitchell Estate Agents can supply you with any Exemption Certificate application form (currently NRL1) for you to complete and send to HMRC. However, the Certificate can take up to two months to be issued. Accordingly, if you, as the Landlord, are resident abroad it will be necessary for us to deduct monies at the appropriate rate and hold such an amount so deducted to your credit until either an Exemption Certificate has been received or until these monies are forwarded to HMRC which we are now obliged to do on an annual basis.

Similarly, if at the present you live within the UK but subsequently move abroad, it will be necessary for us to commence this deduction from the time you leave this country. The monies deducted will be placed in a current account and will not earn interest on your behalf. The eventual liability for tax may be less than the amount forwarded to HMRC. In this event you must liaise with HMRC directly and Bowes Mitchell Estate Agents will not be liable for any refunds.

You must let us know as soon as possible who will be dealing with your tax affairs in this country.

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