What are the main legal responsibilities for agents who fully manage?

Thursday 19 January 2017

There are now around 150 laws that apply when letting a property. Here we highlight some of the key areas of legal responsibilities that agents who fully manage properties on behalf of landlords must adhere to.

Gas safety

Landlords or their agent are legally responsible for the gas safety of their properties. They must make sure gas equipment is safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer. They must also have a registered engineer do an annual gas safety check and or service on each appliance and flue (boiler or gas fire). The copy of the Gas Safety Record must be given to each of the ingoing tenants before they move in and for any subsequent renewals, within 28 days of certification.

Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms

Since 1 October 2015, when properties are occupied by tenants, landlords or their agent must ensure that a smoke alarm is fitted on every floor of the property on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation and a Carbon Monoxide alarm in any room where a solid fuel is burnt (e.g. wood, coal or biomass). Checks must be made by the landlord (or letting agent) to make sure that each alarm is in proper working order on the first day of the tenancy.     

Electricity

Landlords or their agent have a legal duty to ensure that their rental property, and any electrical equipment provided, is safe before a tenancy begins and throughout its duration. They must ensure the electrical system (sockets, switches and light fittings) is safe and all appliances they supply are safe (e.g. cookers and kettles). Landlords should provide tenants with a record of any electrical inspections. Landlords are also responsible for communal areas of a house, block of flats, or estate that residents use in common with other tenants such as landings and kitchens.

Houses in Multiple Occupation

HMOs are usually properties in which unrelated people share facilities such as the kitchen or bathroom. Large HMOs (more than two floors and more than four unrelated people) need to be licensed. The landlord or their agent will need to contact their local council to apply. Licenses are generally valid for five years and landlords need a separate licence for each HMO they run.            

Things to keep an eye on     

In October the UK Government published proposals to extend mandatory licensing of HMOs in England, removing the current three storey rule. The proposals also include a minimum room size and a requirement for landlords of shared homes to provide decent storage and rubbish disposal facilities. The person threshold of five people in two households will remain unchanged. The consultation runs until 13 December 2016.

When the Housing and Planning Act 2016 was passed in May the UK Government introduced an enabling power to set requirements for electrical safety standards in private rented sector houses in England. ARLA has been one of the organisations on the Department for Communities and Local Government’s Working Group that has been tasked with shaping the proposals.

Use an ARLA agent

ARLA agents are experienced and trained professionals who understand and comply with complex legislative changes and best practice. Members attend regular training to keep their skills and experience up-to-date.