Browsing all articles from August, 2011

What Can Tenants Renting a Flat Do About Unfit Properties?


Tenants renting unfit properties leaking pipe
A water leak can cause rife between landlord and tenant — landlords are responsible.

When a tenant renting a flat moves in to a rental property they expect staying in and making it their home, it is in their best interest that the flat or house be in good working order. Checking the inventory such as; appliances, furniture and fixtures before moving in is the best procedure to note and have noted in the let agreement. Making sure the décor is how the tenant renting a flat likes it and knowing what changes can be made by the tenant renting a flat is also advised. There are at times unforeseen circumstances that may arise will letting the unit and knowing who is responsible for any repairs or damages should also be noted in the agreement before moving into the flat.

It is typical that the landlord is responsible for the structure of the flat while it is being let to a tenant. Items such as; electrical, structural, plumbing, fixtures should be maintained and repaired by the landlord during any time of the rental period. If a rental property should sustain such a repair where it can be hazardous to the tenant renting a flat or a health issue, the landlord should be notified immediately. Most landlords will respond to such repairs and unfit properties immediately so that the tenant renting a flat does not suffer both physically and or emotionally. A tenant renting a flat needs to state the unfit portion of the unit in writing to
the landlord when the issue is observed or noted. The landlord inspects the area and gives 24 hours notice to enter the premises to repair and resolve the issue. If there was an emergency the landlord may enter the flat immediately.

There are times when the landlord will not oblige to these unfit rental property conditions when the tenant renting a flat takes appropriate action to rectify the situation.

If a tenant renting a flat has given notice to the landlord and has not had a response, the tenant renting a flat has a few options. If it is stated in the let agreement, the tenant renting a flat may fix and repair the flat and the cost of
the repairs are to be reimbursed by the landlord. A tenant renting a flat may not withhold rent for the cost of the repairs and is required to continue paying the full let amount or they can face eviction. If the landlord does not reimburse the tenant renting a flat for the repairs the tenant renting a flat brings the landlord to court and has costs awarded through the court.

When the unfit rental property falls under the health and safety issues, the tenant renting a flat can contact the local council who will investigate the unfit rental property. It is the local council that takes further action against the landlord to
ensure the flat or house is in good working condition for a tenant renting a flat.



Renting Out Houses In Multiple Occupation (HMO’s)


A rental house which is occupied by three of more unrelated persons, who do not form a single household is considered a HMO.  This form of letting is beneficial to the tenant in helping to keep the costs down.  The facilities are shared among the parties, although the sleeping quarters are separate.  Sharing on costs is convenient for many single people, couples and students attending school.


When a house is being let as multiple occupations, the landlord has many rules and guidelines that must be followed.  Their landlord must also have a HMO registration certificate.  This certificate proves that the landlord is up to regulation with the gas and electrical status of the building.  Having the house and installations in the house service and maintained provides security to the tenant letting the house or flat.


There are many specifications and regulations that the landlord must comply with when letting to multiple occupants.  Having the proper space when referring to sleeping, cooking, bathing, and common areas are set out in black and white and must be adhered to.  Having the building up to code and having proper safety devices installed and in working order are of the utmost importance.  More accidents and safety concerns happen in HMO houses.  There are many health and environmental issues when more than two people of separate families live in one house.  From cleaning issues and taking out the garbage to the appropriate areas outside the building to theft inside the flat or house.


Tenants that let this from of housing must also accept that his form of letting is of higher incidence of safety issues.  When tenants share a house, they may choose to lock their personal belongings in their bedroom.  When a bedroom is locked, there is a higher fire safety concern for the other tenants.  Common sense when it comes to candles, smoking and using appliances may not be equal with all the tenants sharing the same house.  For this and many other reasons the incidence rates are higher.


Many students and workers choose this form of habitation.  It makes monetary sense for students to pay lower costs for let of a house or flat.  It also can contribute to a noisy house when many students are living beneath one roof.  The landlords need to be informed and stick to guidelines to have a successful house rented to HMO’s.  Tenants moving in with other tenants, that are not family related, need to know the possible safety issues.  Saving money seems like a great deal, but in the end, being safe and free from health, theft and environmental issues are also of great importance in choosing a rental home.


Fire Safety In Properties – Landlords Beware!


Proper fire safety measures must be taken when letting or going to let a flat or house.  A few simple steps can be taken to help avoid fires.  The proper installation of a smoke alarm and carbon dioxide detector should be installed on all floors of a flat to ensure there is a proper awareness should a fire break out.  These detectors can be purchased and installed by the landlord or tenant at minimal cost. Regular checking of batteries for the detectors need to be done to ensure they are in good working order. The Building Regulations (1991) state that all properties built since June 1992 must be fitted with mains operated interlinked smoke detectors/alarms with at least one detector per floor level.

It is also the case that all Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are required to supply mains operated interlinked smoke alarm system.

Also having fire extinguishers, fire blankets and a proper fire escape are all key components when it comes to safety in properties.  Before moving into a flat or letting a flat to a tenant, these items should be regulated and checked and put on the inventory list as working before the let agreement is signed by both parties.


Landlords must maintain the electrical and gas fixtures so none of them are faulty therefore causing a possible fire.  If a tenant sees an issue with any of these items, it must be given in writing to the landlord immediately so they may rectify the situation.  Disrepair can be rectified quickly and will help overcome possible fires within a reasonable duration.


There are many other reasons fire can start within a flat or house.  Many accidents and fires occur through negligence and can be avoided with a few simple rules.  If the tenant is a smoker all cigarettes should be disposed of in the appropriate tin.  Never empty a tin into the trash without making sure the tin is cold or filled with some liquid.  Refrain from smoking in bed, as lying down to sleep makes for many fire related injuries and losses.  Never drape wet laundry items over heating elements to dry them.  Candles should be used with caution and be in view always.  Unplugging appliances when not in use is another way to prevent a possible fire from happening.


Make sure the furniture in the flat is fire resistant.  The landlord is responsible for seeing that all furniture and material is fire resistant, confirming the resistance with a symbol in each piece.  If a tenant finds furniture that is not resistant, then contact the landlord to have this procedure done or replaced with the appropriate furniture.  If a tenant does not have a landlord that is compliant with the fire regulations, contact the local council or fire service.  The council and fire service will contact the landlord and take the appropriate actions needed to make sure the rules are followed.


By landlords and tenants following the safety rules and guidelines along with common sense, almost all fires can be avoided.  When in doubt, seek legal advice and know your rights.




August 2011
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