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Advice for private tenants and landlords

Housing advice for tenants and landlords

We provide housing advice to tenants and landlords as well as ensuring rented homes meet minimum standards. We can take enforcement action to improve the condition and safety of private properties.

Sherwood Forest Area Private Landlord Forum

Repairs - private rented housing

Reporting repairs

What is the Housing Health and Safety Rating System?

General advice on housing standards

Retaliatory Evictions

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms

Harassment and illegal eviction

Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme

Tenants rights and responsibilities

Top tips when looking for a rented property

How to rent

Right to rent

Decent and Safe Home East Midlands (DASH)

Landlord accreditation

Sherwood Forest Area Private Landlord Forum

Mansfield, Ashfield, and Newark and Sherwood District Council are working together to provide a joint landlord forum to benefit private landlords in all our areas.  The event is to be held on 20 September 2017 at the offices of Ashfield District Council, Urban Road, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, NG17 8DA and all landlords who operate within any of the three districts are invited to attend this FREE event.  The forum has operated for a number of years now and provides a valuable resource for landlords to discuss and share common issues both with fellow landlords and officers of the three district councils.  

The event will begin at 12pm with refreshments and a light buffet prior to presentations beginning at 1pm.  The event will finish at about 4pm.

As usual, we plan to provide a mix of networking and formal presentations with question and answer sessions.  Topics include:

  • Recent changes to housing legislation including the Housing and Planning Act 2016 plus an update on the proposed extension of the mandatory HMO licensing regime.

  • How to identify and source a suitably qualified and competent electrician.

  • An update from Ashfield District Council on the progress and future of their Selective Licensing scheme.

  • How to assist a vulnerable tenant.

  • Landlord accreditation with DASH/EMPO.

If you would like to attend please confirm your place at this free event by contacting:

The Private Sector Housing Team at Mansfield District Council on 01623 463389 or email plord@mansfield.gov.uk.

The forum is now operating an electronic invite system; this will help the forum keep running costs down.  It is proposed that all invites for this and future events will only be sent via email.  To ensure you continue to receive the invites please provide an email address so we can add you to our electronic mailing list.  This can be done by sending your name and preferred email address to plord@mansfield.gov.uk.  In the event that you do not have access to email please contact us on the above number.

Repairs - private rented housing

The landlord (or owner) is responsible for making sure the property is safe to live in.

The property must be:

  • dry and
  • structurally stable.

With fully working:

  • heating
  • hot and cold water
  • lighting
  • ventilation
  • gas and electricity
  • bathrooms
  • kitchens, and
  • drainage.

Your landlord has the right to come into your home to check what repairs are needed. However they must give you 24 hours notice and must agree a suitable time with you.

As a tenant, it is your responsibility to carry out minor repairs such as replacing light bulbs or clearing a blocked sink. You are also responsible for any damage you or a visitor has caused to the property such as a broken window. Your tenancy agreement will normally detail such responsibilities. More detailed is available from an officer by calling the council's strategic housing team

Reporting repairs

If you live in a private rented property and your home needs repairing, you should:

  • Contact your landlord (see your tenancy agreement for contact details).
  • Allow a reasonable amount of time to carry out repairs. Certain jobs should be carried out more quickly than others (e.g. a toilet should be unblocked within 24 hours whereas a dripping tap may be repaired within a much longer timescale).
  • If you require immediate assistance (e.g. there is a strong smell of gas or faulty electrics), inform your landlord. If they are unable to offer help immediately then phone the relevant emergency number for those services.

If your feel home is dangerous and your landlord fails to carry out the repairs, you should contact the strategic housing team on 01623 463212 who will arrange to inspect the property. 

What is the Housing Health and Safety Rating System?

Local councils in England use the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to assess housing under Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004.

HHSRS allows a local council's inspecting officer to identify defects in a property, by assessing against 29 hazards.

The hazards are categorised as:

  • dampness, which may be caused by condensation  
  • excessive cold / heat
  • pollutants, for example asbestos, carbon monoxide, lead  
  • lack of space, security or lighting, or excessive noise
  • poor hygiene, sanitation, water supply
  • accidents - falls, electric shocks, fires, burns, scalds
  • and collisions, explosions, structural collapse.

The inspecting officer will assess each hazard where there is a contributing defect, and give this a score.  If the score is high, the hazard is rated as a Category 1 hazard, which the council must deal with.  All other hazards are Category 2 hazards, which the council has discretionary powers to deal with.

A guide for landlords can be found at the following link. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/9425/150940.pdf

General advice on housing standards

It's important for landlords to meet required standards and make sure those standards are maintained.  Regular, good-quality maintenance of the property reduces the costs that will arise from long-term neglect and deterioration, and will help to attract and keep tenants.

The accommodation should be safe and suitable for use at the start of a tenancy and the landlord should continue to keep those standards.

Good management of the property by the landlord includes making sure that the behaviour of the tenants does not have a harmful impact on the immediate neighbours or the wider area.  For example, noise and accumulations of rubbish can be big causes of concern for local residents.

Where properties fail to meet the required standards, the local council will liaise with landlords or managing agents to carry out necessary works.  Where landlords or managing agents fail to cooperate with the local council, there are a number of enforcement options available, including:

  • serving an Improvement Notice, requiring the landlord to carry out works within a given time
  • making a prohibition order, forbidding the use of all or part of the dwelling.

Retaliatory Evictions

Tenants should always report any disrepair or poor conditions that may arise to the landlord as soon as possible. They should put their complaint in writing. In order to rely on the protection against retaliatory eviction that the Deregulation Act 2015 provides, a tenant must approach the landlord in the first instance.

If, after 14 days from the tenant making a complaint, the landlord does not reply, that reply is inadequate, or they respond by issuing a section 21 eviction notice, the tenant should approach their local authority and ask them to step in and carry out an inspection to verify the need for a repair. 

An Environmental Health Officer of the council will arrange to inspect the property. They will conduct a thorough check. There is a detailed assessment method (known as the Housing Health and Safety Rating System) that has been developed to help local authorities verify whether a property contains serious health or safety hazards. If the inspection verifies the tenant's complaint, the inspector will take appropriate action. There are a number of enforcement options open to local authorities, including Improvement Notices and Notices of Emergency Remedial Action, but they will almost always engage with the landlord first, in order to try and resolve the problem informally. 

If the local authority serves an Improvement Notice or Notice of Emergency Remedial Action, the landlord cannot evict the tenant for six months using the no-fault eviction procedure. Read the guidance here.

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms

New legislation came into force on 1 October 2015 for private landlords in England regarding smoke and Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarms. Landlords must fit a smoke alarm on every storey and fit a Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarm in every room with a solid fuel burning appliance, although the regulations do not stipulate the type of alarm to be installed. 

Alarms must be tested and working on the start of each tenancy.

Harassment and illegal eviction

A landlord must follow strict procedures if they want a tenant to leave their property (depending on the type of tenancy agreement in place).

If your landlord doesn't follow the procedure correctly, they may be guilty of illegally evicting or harassing you.

You can seek guidance about evictions and harassment through the Strategic Housing Team. 

More information can be found at the following link https://www.gov.uk/private-renting-evictions

Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme

If you started renting out a room after 6 April 2007, your landlord must place your deposit in a tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme and must inform you which scheme it has been placed into as well as other information. At the end of your tenancy agreement if both you and your landlord agree on how much deposit you'll get back then your deposit should be returned to you within 10 days. However, if you do not agree then your deposit will be held within the tenancy deposit scheme until the dispute has been resolved.

If your landlord has not protected your deposit within one of the TDP schemes then you can take civil action via the County Court.

For more information on this see www.gov.uk/deposit-protection-schemes-and-landlords

Tenants rights and responsibilities

The Government have provided a How to Rent guide which must be provided with each new tenancy https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/496709/How_to_Rent_Jan_16.pdf

As a tenant living in a private rented property you have certain rights, but you also have responsibilities to both your landlord and neighbours.

Rights

You have the right to:

  • Live in a property which provides a healthy and safe environment
  • Not be required to carry out repairs which are the landlord's responsibility
  • Have your deposit protected in one of the three tenancy deposit schemes available
  • Have a tenancy agreement
  • Not be threatened with harassment and illegal eviction
  • Have the name and contact details of your landlord

Responsibilities

Your responsibilities include:

  • Keeping up to date with your rent and bills
  • Taking care of the property and not causing damage
  • Being responsible for your household and visitors
  • Asking permission from your landlord where it is needed
  • Having consideration for your neighbours and not causing a nuisance or antisocial behaviour
  • Complying with the terms of your tenancy agreement and ending your tenancy agreement properly
  • Not causing any intentional damage to the property, as you will be responsible for putting this right or paying for the repairs
  • Not withholding your rent - even if you are waiting for repairs to be completed
  • Not storing excess rubbish in your garden
  • Not leaving your bins on the street
  • Not contaminating your recycling bin

More information can be found on the shelter website at http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/private_renting/about_private_renting/tenants_responsibilities

Top tips when looking for a rented property

When looking for a private rented home it is important to take your time when choosing and make sure you take a proper look at both the interior and exterior of the property as well as speaking to your landlord about the facilities and services offered. Some useful things to look for are:

  • Is there a working fixed form of heating that is controllable? Ask the landlord to show you how this works
  • Is the plumbing ok? Is there both hot and cold water? Try the taps, shower and flush the toilet.
  • Ask to see the energy performance certificate. Is the house affordable to keep warm? Is it well insulated? 
  • Are the windows in good condition? Do they open? Are any of the panes cracked or broken? Are the frames in good condition?
  • Is there any dampness within the property - look for signs of mould, staining, or smell of damp and mould or musty. If the property seems damp in the spring or summer then it will be much worse in the winter
  • Do any of the rooms need redecorating? If so, who will do it and who is going to pay?
  • Is the property effectively secured? Consider the type of locks and bolts on the doors; are there locks on the ground and first floor windows?   
  • Are there smoke alarms/detectors in the property? Are there fire doors and can the doors be opened from the inside without a key? 
  • Is the garden and/or yard tidy? Are any walls or fences in good repair? Checks whose responsibility it will be to keep it tidy
  • Is the rent and deposit fair? Check what this includes. The deposit will usually be equivalent to one month's rent but this can vary. Check the terms for the deposit's return and enquire about the tenancy deposit scheme that will be used
  • Ask for a copy of the gas safety certificate - this must have been completed by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. For further information please see www.gassaferegister.co.uk
  • Ask for a copy of the electrical safety certificate this must be completed as a minimum every 5 years in houses in multiple occupation
  • Is the furniture and furnishing containing upholstery labelled as fire resistant? Is the furniture provided and is it in a good condition?
  • Is there an inventory for the property when you move in? This will help with any disputes over the return of your deposit at the end of the tenancy
  • Speak with the current tenants and find out if they have had any problems with the property or owner/agent
  • If you ask the owner/agent to carry out repairs or redecoration then ask them to put this in writing with the date when it will be done by. Agree this in writing with the landlord before moving in. 
  • Is the letting agent a member of the  Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services Property and the Property Redress Schemes.

How to rent 

The Government have a How to Rent guide, which should be given to all new tenancies starting after the 1st October 2015. Section 21 notices are likely to be invalid if signed without giving a copy of the guide to the tenant. 

Right to rent

 The landlord must check that a tenant or lodger can legally rent residential property in England.

Before the start of a new tenancy, they must make checks for tenants aged 18 and over even if:

  • they're not named on the tenancy agreement
  • there's no tenancy agreement
  • the tenancy agreement isn't in writing

If the tenant is only allowed to stay in the UK for a limited time, they need to do the check in the 28 days before the start of the tenancy. More details can be found here

More information on renting in the private sector can be found at the Gov website.

Decent and Safe Home East Midlands (DASH)

DASH Services is a joint-working initiative with Local Authorities, property owners, landlords and tenants. DASH aims to improve housing conditions in the private sector, with particular emphasis on the private rented sector.

See the DASH Services website for lots of advice for Tenants and Landlords.

Landlord accreditation 

DASH operate a landlord accreditation scheme which Mansfield District Council support. Further information is available from the link on the right banner. 

 



Page last updated: 4 October 2017
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