Browsing all articles tagged with tenant rights Archives - LettingLinks - Connecting Landlords & Tenants
Nov
15

Getting Repairs Done While Renting

 

Tenants renting unfit properties leaking pipe

A water leak can cause rife between landlord and tenant -- landlords are responsible.

Both landlords and tenants have responsibilities which are usually set out in the Tenancy Agreement. Tenants have the right to live in an accommodation that is in good repair and landlords have the right to have their accommodations taken care of by their tenants.

There are several things you can do in order to get repairs done while living in a rental unit. The most obvious and least likely to be problematic would be to ask your landlord and for your landlord to agree to the repair. Unfortunately not all requests are met with positive responses from their landlords which usually means that you’ll have to go to different lengths in order to get the repairs done.

Of course the local authorities will undoubtedly step in if the property is in such disrepair as to cause a health hazard, such as a leaky roof or bug infested property, or if the condition is such that it is causing a ‘nuisance’ to other tenants or properties in the area. There are several authorities that can be contacted if it’s suspected that an unsafe or unhealthy situation exists, for example the Environmental Health Department. These agencies would demand that repairs be made by the landlord within a specific time frame, which would ensure that it was not left unattended.

Then there’s the “Right to Repair” scheme which is available in England, Wales and Scotland. Under this scheme if you are a local authority tenant you can ask your landlord for a different contractor if the repairs are not carried out under the prescribed time line. You can use this scheme if you have any emergency repairs that would cost up to £250, for which you could claim a compensation of £50.

Also in England and Wales there could be a possibility of getting Help with Home Improvements. The local authorities would be able to give you more information as to whom and how to qualify for such repairs. Although the law prohibits any form of discrimination, each local authority will have its own rules. For instance one might have a rule that says you can only get a grant or loan for the repairs if your savings is under a certain limit. Of course because you are renting, you will need to have your landlords approval for any repair or improvement before the local authority will even look at your application. If it is a reasonable request, or if you are disabled and the improvement would improve your way of life, your landlord will most likely be told he must comply and have the repair or improvement taken care of at his expense.

As was stated the first action that should be taken should be to negotiate with your landlord. If you try this and your landlord refuses, you could contact your Local Government Ombudsman. This should be considered only as a last resort as it can take a great deal of time for the Ombudsman to investigate your complaint and to have the local authority advised of the outcome.

Make sure that when making a request of your landlord that you are being reasonable in your expectations. Most landlords will consider these requests as beneficial to keeping their properties in good condition and will have most repairs and improvements done in a timely fashion.

 

Nov
13

Landlord Law – Lesser known Regulations you should be aware of!

As you may already know, the two most important and vital regulations that a landlord needs be in compliance with are The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulation 1988 – as amended 1993.

However there are several lesser known regulations, laws and acts that as a landlord you must have up-to-date information in order to be compliant. The following are a few of those regulations:

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 was introduced in order for the electrical equipment that is to be supplied by the landlord to be in good working order and safe to use. Although there is no mandatory equipment testing requirement, unlike the Gas Safety regulation, the responsibility of the landlord is no different. The best practice for landlords is to include the testing of all electronic appliances and electrics (wires, plugs and sockets) at the beginning of each tenancy, and annually thereafter, to ensure everything is in working order. If you are in the habit of having these items checked regularly you would not have any trouble proving due diligence in the event of a fire or any other problem or mishap.

As part of this regulation there is also the Plugs and Sockets (Safety) Regulation 1994 that states any plug, socket or adaptor that the landlord is supplying within a residential letting must comply with the appropriate current standard and that the plugs are prewired and insulated enough so that there would be no shock when removing plugs from the socket.

There are several other subsections of this regulation, so you would be wise to check out the entire document.

The other document you would be advised to have on hand for reference is the Landlord and Tenant Act. Unfortunately it’s an ever changing and expanding document that can be difficult to keep up with. The following are but a few examples that might be of interest to you:

Section 47, Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 is regarding the need for landlords to have an address in England or Wales, even if they reside outside of England or Wales. There must be an address in England or Wales for the rent to be sent as well as any notifications, this address could be that of an office rather than their home.

Section 11, Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 requires landlords to keep both the interior and exterior of the property, including drains, ducts, gutters and pipes, in good working order. They must also keep the installations for supplying water, gas, electricity, sanitation, space heating and water heating in good repair and working order. This would also imply that the landlord has the right to view all of the above in order to assess the conditions of his property, provided they give a 24 hour written notice to the tenant.

The Protection from Eviction Act 1977, states that neither the landlord nor the agent has a right to reclaim possession of a property if the tenant refuses to leave without first obtaining a court order. It would be considered a criminal offense to harass, change the locks, cut off services or remove the tenant’s possessions.  

The Sex Discrimination Act 1975; the Disability Discrimination Act 1995; the Race Relations Act 1976. All of these Acts make it illegal to discriminate an application for tenancy on the grounds of sex, marital status, disability or race (including colour, nationality, creed, ethnicity or national origin).

So as you can see there is definitely more to becoming a landlord than just finding a tenant for a property you want to let. As many of these regulations, laws and acts carry the possibility of penalties and sometimes even imprisonment; you can see just how important it is to be aware, up-to-date and diligent about the condition of your property in order to protect your possessions.

 

 

Nov
8

Landlord Law – Essential Legislation Landlords Need To be Aware Of

Landlords are required to remain current as to their understanding and compliance with the many laws, regulations and acts that have been developed for the letting industry. It is an ever changing world and the laws that we live by therefore are constantly changing as well.

The following is just a sampling of such regulations that landlords and letting agents would be wise to study and ensure their properties are in compliance.

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1988 puts the responsibility of ensuring all gas appliances and fixtures, such as pipes and flues are maintained in good condition directly on the landlords of residential properties. Most importantly is to makes sure that the escape of Carbon Monoxide poison, which is odourless, silent and deadly, is avoided at all costs.

The regulation states that all properties need to have a valid Gas Safety Record at all times. This would also include pipework that has been capped and appliances removed. A CORGI registered engineer must inspect all gas appliances prior to the tenant moving into the property, who will issue the Gas Safety Record for which a copy must be given to the tenant. After the initial check an annual Gas Safety Check must be performed and again a copy goes to the tenant within 28 days of the check. The landlord is expected to keep a copy of the Gas Safety Check for a period of two years.

Both landlords and letting agents are liable for the compliance of this regulation and should be aware that non-compliance is a serious criminal offense and could carry with it monetary penalties and/or imprisonment. If a death were to occur due to a breach in the safety regulations, the charge could be manslaughter and both landlord and agent would be equally liable.

Another regulation that has become just as important is the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulation 1988 – as amended 1993, which states that the following furniture and furnishings that are supplied by the landlord must meet fire safety regulations.

These items include: Beds, headboards and mattresses; sofas, sofa-beds and futons; nursery furniture; garden furniture that is suitable to be used indoors; furniture used in new caravans; window seat, seat pads, scatter cushions and bean bags; padded stools and chests (ottomans); put-u-up beds and garden loungers/seats; and loose and stretch covers for furniture.

Most furniture that has been manufactured after 1989 will likely comply and will have a label showing their compliance. The items that are not covered by this regulation are: sleeping bags, bed clothes (including duvets) and pillowcases; loose covers for mattresses, curtains and carpets; furniture or furnishing manufactured prior to 1950, as the material used prior to this period was not flammable.

The consequences for non-compliance of this regulation are also a criminal offense and could lead to a fine of £5000 and/or 6 months in prison. The charge of manslaughter would also be imposed should a death occur due to negligence on the part of the landlord and/or letting agent.

There are several other regulations that landlords must adhere to, however these two are the most important and hold the strictest penalties for non-compliance. Landlords are required to be up-to-date on all of the literature that goes along with the regulations and laws for letting properties.

Nov
5

How To Rent a Property – The Tenant’s Guide

 

How To Rent a PropertyThe rental business is fast and finding the right letting agent or landlord is very important to assist in the process and sometimes using a property portal like Lettinglinks.com can help a great deal. Letting Links is trying to make the process of connecting tenants, landlords and/or agents smooth and painless.

Once you’ve made a connection with an agent, make sure they know exactly what it is you’re looking for in a property, including your budget, location and length of the term. Make sure he is aware of how serious you are so that he’s bound to put you at the top of the list when appropriate properties become available. It’s also very helpful if you can give specific feedback to the agent after each viewing so he’ll know when he’s on the right track and when he’s off base.

Letting agents will generally ask for an administration fee of between £25 and £150, as well as a deposit of around £50 to £200. This deposit will be used towards your first month’s rent unless you pull out of the deal in which case you would likely lose it all. For this reason you should ensure you have a reputable letting agent so you can be comfortable with handing over your money. You should also ask the age of the property and if it’s looking a little on the tired side, find out how long it’s been on the market – you may just be able to make a deal.

So now you’ve found the property you want to live in – now comes the signing of the tenancy agreement. This is a legally binding document and should be treated with respect and serious consideration. It will have a lot of information such as: party’s names, the address of the property, the term, how much rent is expected and when and what percentage of an increase can be expected, the responsibilities of both parties, information about the inventory, the deposit scheme and the notice period that either you or the landlord must give in order to end the tenancy.

Of course your new potential landlord will want to make sure you are a suitable tenant which means you will likely need to provide references such as previous landlords, bank reference, employment and possibly a credit check.

Generally you will be asked to pay a deposit which could be anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks’ worth of rent in order to safe guard your landlord should there be damage done to his property while you are living there. Since there are several discrepancies when it comes to what is wear and tear or what is damage, you need to have an accurate list of inventory and the condition of the property prior to signing an agreement. In April 2007 the Tenancy Deposit Protection was introduced to apply to all properties being let in England and Wales. This protection will help if there are any disputes between landlords and tenants. Also each deposit is to be held in one of three approved Tenancy Deposit Schemes.

The inventory that was mentioned is one of the most important documents that you will receive at the beginning of the tenancy. It takes careful notice of the condition of each room, the interior and exterior of the property and anything that is included in the rental such as a fridge, cookery, air conditioner or furniture if applicable. The difference between the inventor taken at the beginning of the tenancy and the end of the tenancy will determine how much of your deposit you will get back.

The most important form of course is the Tenancy Agreement and the most common is the Assured Shorthold Tenancies Agreement. The agreement outlines the responsibilities of the landlord and the tenant, but the most important aspect is the right of the landlord to repossess the property at the end of the tenancy. If all parties are happy the term does not have to be short, however if the term is more than 3 years a solicitor must draw up a deed.

Although it is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure the safety of the property and any appliances that are included, it is your responsibility to make sure that the landlord has secured the proper certificates so that your safety is never in question.

As we stated at the beginning finding the right landlord and/or letting agent is the key to a successful rental and we hope you can find that connection by looking into Letting Links. Don’t let the process give you too much pressure – just be diligent and careful so you can feel comfortable with your choices.

Lettinglinks.com is a social networking site that connects landlords with tenants. If you are interested in letting a property then visit the main site and create your account in seconds. The site is 100% FREE to use. Gain access to thousands of UK registered landlords and their properties NOW! 

Sep
19

Tenancy Agreements — Know Your Rights

When first moving into a new flat or rental unit, the excitement can be over-whelming. While this is always a good sign, it is always important to know and remember your rights as a tenant, should you need to exercise them in the event of a problem during the letting period. Likewise, as a landlord it is equally important to know and understand what the rights of both you and your tenants, should there be an issue down the road.

Insurance is the first right both the tenant and the landlord share equally. On the landlord side, maintaining adequate insurance on the rental property is the utmost important way to secure your investment, in the event of an accident. This means, while the tenant is living there, should a fire, flood arson etc. happen, your physical home is covered. Always check with an insurance agent about proper coverage for your unit. A tenant should always secure insurance on a rental property prior to moving in, for the same reasons. Should there be an accident or incident in the home, many times a landlords insurance will not cover your own private property (think you bed,television, computer or kitchen appliances.)

Rental upkeep is yet another common right both landlords and tenants share equally. In the event of repairs being needed on the rental unit, it is the landlords responsibility to make sure they are made in an orderly and prompt fashion. In order to notify the owner of such needed repairs, they are expected to provide accurate and current contact information to the tenant.

As a property owner, you have the right to ensure your property is being treated properly (not damaged or used for malicious purposes) and as such, you are entitled to enter the property after giving the tenant 24 hours notice.

In regards to monetary amounts, a landlord must put the rental deposit in trust immediately after approving the lease (see rental deposits for more information) and ensure the amount is returned promptly within 30 days of the lease being terminated. In the event of needed repairs, property owners need to justify withholding any monies from the tenant. Likewise, a landlord also has the right to collect any past due rent or arrears from the tenant. A landlord may visit their tenant at any time to request the amounts in full.

Subject to not receiving any compensation, a landlord also has the right to remove any tenant from their property (only following proper legal actions.)

Knowing and respecting tenancy rights is both a landlord and tenants responsibility meant to be shared equally. Knowing these rights can save hours of frustration down the road, should a problem arise.

Aug
30

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.

 

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