Guide to Legal Legislation when Renting a Property

There is a lot of legislation pertaining to property and this guide incorporates a number but not all of them that relate to your responsibilities as a landlord. Please find below a number of important pieces of legislation that we feel should give you a taste of what is required of a landlord.

Cooke & Co keep up to date with all aspects of landlord and tenant law, as letting property demands a thorough knowledge of your obligations. As members of many professional bodies including ARLA and NALS. Cooke & Co will guide you through this potential minefield.

We are also regularly updated by the National Landlords Association and are fully subscribed members of The Letting Centre Guide which is an industry-standard for letting information that is regularly updated as the laws change. 

There are some very good reasons why landlords should check their properties are safe for tenants. Landlords should be aware of all the safety issues and the legal requirements surrounding the letting of property. Failure to abide by this legislation could result in a tenant becoming hurt or worse. Criminal proceedings could then follow which may involve jail time if a landlord is found guilty of neglecting their duty of care, as well as private compensation claims.

Using Cooke & Co an ARLA agent, means that you are being advised by a professional property management company and this will minimize your risks as long as you follow the advice given. If you feel that your property does not meet the standards set and you don’t want to do the work to bring them up to legal lettings standards required then Cooke & Co would respectfully decline the management and could not introduce tenants to your property.

We have listed below the most important legislation that you must comply with.

  • Annual Gas Safety checks including Carbon monoxide monitors for all properties.
  • Electrical safety for wiring and pac testing for appliances.
  • Fire safety including provision for Smoke Alarms
  • Furniture and Furnishings
  • Full Operating instructions and user warnings provided for all appliances and equipment.
  • General internal and external building safety for tenants, visitors and the general public.
  • Landlord and Public Liability insurance.

Landlords also have a duty of care to ensure the property is safe from obvious hazards. Here is a list that outline the most common of the items that have caused issues in the UK in the past.

  • Doors, entrances and free exit escape routes.
  • Fire doors (when fitted) their seals & closers.
  • Wiring/plug sockets, and fuses for correct size
  • Fittings and appliances for loose or dangerous parts.
  • Smoke alarms & fire equipment are fitted
  • Upper floor windows have safety bars/catches.
  • Roofs, chimneys, guttering and down spouts for possibility of falling objects.
  • Paths, driveways, stairways and fire escape surfaces for possibility of trips and falls.
  • Stairs and stairways, handrails and carpets for the possibility of causing trips and falls.
  • Gardens, walls, gates and fences, outhouses, garages, and any tools provided must be checked for general safety. 

Below are a number of Acts that outline your responsibilities in statutory law. One must remember that these statutes override any contractual law and so it does not matter what the tenancy agreement outlines, you cannot just override these laws using a contract and shirk responsibility.

Housing Acts 1988 and 1996

The 1988 legislation introduced assured and assured shorthold tenancies. Before that date most lettings were regulated tenancies under the Rents Act 1977. Under the provisions of the Housing Act 1996, tenancies that started on or after 28 February 1997 are automatically assured shorthold tenancies unless special steps are taken to set up an assured tenancy. The Housing Act 2004 introduces a number of measures that affect residential landlords, including mandatory licensing of a house in multiple occupation and selective licensing of privately rented properties in some areas.

Duty to Manage Asbestos

From May 2004 landlords and property managers of non-domestic properties must take active steps to identify, record and manage the risks from any asbestos present. We recommend a local firm called All About Asbestos and can furnish you with their details as required.

Finance Act 2003

This is provided for the introduction of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) from 1 December 2003. It largely replaces stamp duty on UK land and buildings. It covers residential and commercial property freeholds and leaseholds over seven years in length as well as other transactions.

Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988

Landlords must make sure that any furnishings and furniture provided comply with fire resistance requirements. Upholstered furniture included in lettings must comply. These Regulations impose the same stringent standards as apply to new and second-hand furniture in the shops.

The Regulations are applicable to the following:

  • All types of upholstered seating. This includes chairs, settees, padded stools, sofa beds, and padded headboards.
  • Children’s furniture, cots, carrycots, playpens, prams, pushchairs, high chairs.
  • Garden furniture suitable for indoor use.
  • Furniture in caravans.
  • Mattresses and padded bed bases.

Please contact us for more information on any of the above legislation as we would be very pleased to help and of course we would love to manage your property.