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This is Habitans Lettings guide for lettings in England. Any legal, financial or insurance information is not advice and shouldn’t be used as such. Advice from professionals should be sought for any legal, financial or insurance queries.

EPC – Energy Performance Certificate

It is a legal requirement to have an EPC for your property, and since April 2020 the rating must be E or above for all existing or new tenancies. An EPC calculates a score between 1-100 for your property based on how energy efficient it is, a letter rating between A-G is then determined from the numerical score. A breakdown of the scoring system can be seen below, current and potential scores are given. The current rating is for the property at the point of the EPC issue, the potential rating is what the maximum achievable rating for the property is (after having work done to the property). An EPC lasts 10 years from its original issue, the newer the EPC the more accurate its data and score will be. The EPC must be shown to the applicant before they sign any contracts, it will help them estimate how much the bills to run the property will cost and compare against other properties.

EPC certificates explained - Which?

How can I get an EPC for my property?

Having an EPC generated for your property involves a competent person visiting your property and completing an EPC survey. The certificate will then be generated using the data from the survey. There are many EPC providers out there, be sure to use an accredited and insured provider or your EPC may not be valid. Most lettings agents also provide this service.

Habitans Lettings can arrange an EPC for you! (£80) – The EPC survey will be completed by a fully accredited and insured provider. The generated certificate can be sent to your own and/or your lettings agent’s email.

Tips for a better EPC rating

  • Use energy efficient lamps in fixed light fittings
  • Use good insulation throughout but especially around a hot water tank Provide paperwork as evidence for the following:
  • Loft insulation that can’t be easily accessed
  • Cavity wall insulation that isn’t visible
  • Double glazed windows where the date isn’t visible
  • Any manuals or information relating to the boiler

For the latest information on EPC’s visit the gov.uk website

Landlords Gas Safety Report

If your property has a gas supply it is a legal requirement to have a Landlords Gas Safety Record for the property. Each gas appliance must be inspected as well as any pipework or flumes by an accredited gas safe engineer who will issue a certificate. A new gas safety certificate is required annually, as of April 2018 they operate like a cars MOT, meaning you can have the inspection done 10-12 months after the prior inspection and retain the previous certificates expiry date. The latest gas safety certificate must be shown to the applicant before signing any contacts and any new certificate must be provided to the tenant within 28 days of its issue. The two previous certificates must be kept as a record.

How can I get a Gas Safety Report for my property?

Having a gas safety report generated for your property requires a gas safe registered engineer visit your property and assess all appliances, pipework and flumes. The report will be generated based on their findings and should include the following:

  • A description and location of each appliance and/or flue checked
  • Name, registration number and signature of the engineer who carried out the check
  • A date on which the appliance and/or flue was checked
  • The address of the property at which the appliance and/or flue is installed
  • The name and address of the landlord (or their agent where appropriate)
  • Any defect identified and any action required or taken to fix it
  • Confirmation of the results of operational safety checks carried out on the appliances

Habitans Lettings can arrange a Gas Safety Report for you! (£65) – The assessment will be conducted and certificate generated by a fully accredited and insured gas safe engineer. The generated certificate can be sent to your own and/or your lettings agent’s email.

For the latest information on gas safety visit the hse.gov.uk website

EICR – Electrical Installation Condition Report

ECIR’s aren’t currently a legal requirement, however it is definitely recommended, as of July 2020 it will be a legal requirement. Any new or renewed tenancy will require an electrical inspection and report issued by a qualified electrician. These reports usually last 5 years, but it depends on the recommendation of the electrician who will consider the age of installation and component condition.

How can I get a ECIR for my property?

Having a ECIR generated for your property involves a qualified electrician inspecting your property and producing a report of their findings. They will analyse the condition of the wiring, boards and any fixed appliances. The report will state if the property is compliant to the relevant standards and make any suggestions for improvements. There are many electricians that will complete a ECIR for you, however we recommend using a NICEIC registered electrician, as they will carry out a thorough examination of all the outlets and appliances.

Habitans Lettings can arrange a ECIR for you! (Price depends on size of property) – The report will be issued by a NICEIC registered electrician who is fully insured. The report can be sent to your own and/or your lettings agent’s email.

For more information on electrical safety visit the gov.uk website

PAT – Portable Appliance Testing

PAT testing is again not a legal requirement but we recommend testing any portable appliances included with your property. The law expects you to maintain any electrical appliances in a manor where they are safe for the tenants to use, failure to do so could be classed as negligence. Testing is recommended annually and can be done by anyone considered competent. There are online courses available that will qualify you to PAT test, such as Virtual College. Depending on the appliance it may require just a visual check or specialist testing equipment, which you would typically hire as it requires regular calibration. Equipment can be hired online from between £50-80 per week, or can be purchased for £250-500. If conducting testing yourself you will need to keep a record and keep in mind that if disputes arise then having an external competent person perform the testing might provide a better case.

Things to look out for when doing a visual inspection

  • Fraying, cuts or heavy scuffing to the lead
  • Damage to the plug such as bent pins
  • Tape applied to the lead to join leads together
  • Visible wires where the lead joins the plug
  • Loose parts or screws
  • Signs of overheating, such as burn marks or staining on the plug
  • Equipment being stored in dusty or wet environments
  • Cables trapped under furniture or in floor boxes

How do I get my appliances PAT tested?

You can do it yourself! but please keep in mind the points above. If you don’t want to do it yourself you can arrange for a qualified person to PAT test your appliances. It will require the person with calibrated equipment to visit the property and conduct testing on each appliance. Each appliance tested should be marked with a sticker stating the date of the test. It can be a good idea to get this done by the same person generating an ECIR for the property, it just makes your record keeping easier and they will usually be qualified.

Habitans Lettings can arrange PAT testing for you! (Price depends on the number of appliances) – The testing will be carried out by a qualified and insured electrician. All appliances tested will be marked with a sticker stating the date of the test and next due date.

Insurance

It is not a legal requirement for you to have landlords insurance, it is however strongly recommended that you do. Most buy to let mortgages specify this as a requirement, so you could be in breach of your mortgage terms if you don’t have it. There are two types of insurances for landlords.

Buildings Insurance – This usually covers the structure of the building and any fixed items, eg. kitchens and bathrooms. The cost to rebuild the property is calculated for this cover, which is often different to the market value if the property.

Contents Insurance – This cover is ideal if you’re property is let furnished. Any furniture (Bed, Wardrobe, Table, ect..) or appliances (Washing Machine, Dryer, Fridge, ect…) included with the property is covered with this insurance. The cost to replace all contents is calculated for this insurance.

Most landlord insurance policies will include both of the above insurances as well as public liability insurance. Public liability insurance covers any injury to tenants or visitors to the property. These injuries may not be the fault of the landlord, however if they are found to be, you will be covered with public liability and legal fees should be covered.

Landlord Licences

In some areas it is a legal requirement for you to have a licence to let your property. You should check with your local authority for more information about landlords licences and any costs involved. In order to be granted a landlord licence you must show that you abide with the regulations of the area and can adequately manage the property (Self managed or through a letting agent). If you let your property in an area that requires a landlords licence without a licence, you could face hefty fines.

If you operate a HMO you may require a HMO licence. In some areas it is a legal requirement to have a current HMO licence to let a property with multiple tenants sharing common spaces. Again you should check with your local authority for more information about HMO licences and any costs involved. If your property is classified as a ‘Large HMO’ then you require a licence anywhere in England or Wales. A property is classed as a ‘Large HMO’ if all of the following apply:

  • it is rented to 5 or more people who form more than 1 household
  • some or all tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities
  • at least 1 tenant pays rent (or their employer pays it for them)

You can apply for either of the above licences through your local council. It usually involves filling out a form and returning it to the council. They will then request supporting documents from you, which may include:

  • Gas Safety Certificate
  • EICR
  • EPC
  • PAT records
  • Fire safety records

There will be a cost, usually around £500, to apply for either licence and once granted is typically valid for 5 years.

Legionnaire Risk Assessment

The law expects landlords to ensure the safety of their tenants, legionnaire’s disease is included in this. To demonstrate you have taken precautions to reduce the risk of your tenants contracting legionnaire’s disease, it is advised a legionnaire’s risk assessment is complete for the property.

How can I get a legionnaire’s risk assessment for on my property?

You can conduct the risk assessment yourself! We have created a legionnaire’s risk assessment form that you can populate and keep as a documented record. It is also a good idea to provide your tenant with this legionnaire’s disease advice leaflet. As long as the risk assessment and any actions that became apparent from the risk assessment are complete and documented you have done what is needed to ensure your tenants safety. If you don’t want to do the risk assessment yourself, you can arrange for a competent professional to do it for you. The risk assessment will provide required or suggested improvements, these can include:

  • Removing any redundant pipework from the system
  • More adequate temperature control parameters
  • New hot or cold water tank

Habitans Lettings can arrange a legionnaire’s risk assessment for you! (Cost depends on size of property) – The risk assessment will be carried out by a competent, insured professional. The risk assessment can be sent to your own and/or your lettings agent’s email.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors

It is a requirement by law to have a smoke detector on every floor which is used as living space in a single let property. Any room where a solid fuel burner is used must have a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm. It is also the responsibility of the landlord to ensure the detector alarms are working at the start of a new tenancy. After the start of a tenancy it is usually the tenants responsibility to ensure the detectors are in working order, to make sure of this we include it in our AST. We recommend testing the detectors on the first day of a new tenancy in front of the new tenants and showing them how to test themselves. It is also good practice to test the detectors at every inspection of the property.

For more information on smoke and carbon monoxide alarms visit the gov.uk website 

Fire Risk Assessment

Fire safety is of upmost importance when ensuring the safety of your tenants, a documented fire risk assessment is the best way to demonstrate this. A fire risk assessment is a methodical approach to determine the risk of a fire starting and its impact on people. It involves identifying potential fire hazards and people at risk, then resolving or reducing the risks to peoples safety. It is a good idea to keep a fire safety test log for your property especially if its a block of flats or a HMO, we have created one for you. It is also advised that you provide all tenants with this fire safety book.

How can I get a fire risk assessment for my property?

You can do it yourself! We have created a fire risk assessment form that you can populate and retain as evidence in case of a dispute. If you don’t feel confident doing this yourself you can arrange for a competent professional to do it for you. The actions that fall out of the fire risk assessment will need to be completed/ arranged by yourself.

Habitans Lettings can arrange a fire risk assessment for you! (Cost depends on size of property) – The risk assessment will be complete by a competent and insured professional. The risk assessment can be sent to your own and/or your lettings agent’s email.

Fire safety regulations may differ for different areas and if you operate a HMO or block of flats, please contact your local authority for more information regarding fire safety.

Key things to consider

  • Ensure you have adequate smoke and carbon monoxide alarms for the size and location of property. In standard two story properties having a smoke detector at the top and bottom of the stairs is common, but having one in the kitchen is always a good idea if its far from the bottom of the stairs.
  • Escape routes that aren’t easy and obvious should be clearly displayed, and tenants should understand they need to be kept clear for their safety.
  • Electrical appliances should have the CE or Kitemark safety label or they need to be replaced. It is also a good idea to PAT test all appliances and label as such.
  • If a built in appliance is faulty or old such as a gas cooker that is lit using matches, then it should be replaced or repaired.

Interim Inspections

To ensure you fulfill your landlords obligations and your property remains compliant, it is important to carry out regular inspections. This is also a good opportunity for you to see how your tenants are treating your property and a chance for them to raise any small maintenance issues. We recommend an inspection after the first six months of a tenancy commencing, annual inspections at a minimum are then suggested. It is a good idea to take the inventory condition report when you visit the property for inspection, doing so means you can do a quick check against the original condition.

Habitans Lettings can do an interim inspection for you! (£90) – One of our team will visit your property to check compliance and assess the condition of the property. Ideally you can provide us with your original inventory condition report for us to compare against or even better if it’s one of our own that was completed by us or you. We can send our inspection report to your own and/or your lettings agent’s email.

General Pre-Tenancy Property Checks

Internal:

  • Drains clear well
  • Silicone is well adhered in all wet areas
  • Doors shut correctly (don’t catch on anything and latches work correctly)
  • Ensure white goods can be easily installed, outlets and inlets are in appropriate places
  • Bins are empty
  • There isn’t excess cold
  • No damp or mold growth is present
  • The property can be secured (doors and windows lock)
  • Limited risks of trips and falls
  • No loose fixtures or fittings
  • All appliances work and instructions for them
  • Decent water pressure
  • Shut off valves easily accessed and function correctly

External:

  • Ensure brickwork and mortar pointing is in good condition
  • No signs of moisture ingress
  • Guttering and downpipes in good condition and clean
  • All flashing and seals are of good condition
  • Shared entrances have functioning keypads and fobs/access cards
  • Communal areas have no trip hazards
  • All balconies and mezzanines are secure from falling risks
  • Sheds and outbuildings are empty and accessible
  • Gardens are neat and tidy

Read our guide on Marketing a Property

Want to know the best tips and tricks to market your property? Have a read of our guide on marketing a property, which includes the best places to advertise your property.

Marketing a Property

You can also see all of our guides for landlords and much more in our landlords area.

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