Landlords and The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015

On 1 October 2015, The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 came into force. This new law requires landlords to install smoke alarms on every storey of a rented property, and to ensure any room in a rented house which contains a solid fuel burning appliance is fitted with a carbon monoxide alarm. Landlords are also responsible for checking that these alarms are in full working order at the beginning of each new tenancy. This article details what you need to know about this new legislation as a private landlord.

What type of alarms should I install, and where?
The law does not stipulate any specific type of alarm, or where specifically they should be placed, only that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be fitted as above. There are a variety of options for smoke alarms which suit properties of different sizes and occupancies, so it is important to research what the best option is for your property. The Fire Service offers guidance on best practice on their website. General advice is that smoke alarms should be fitted to the ceiling in a circulation space, such as a hall or landing. Heat detectors cannot be fitted in lieu of smoke alarms.

Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Photo credit: safelincs

Carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are required by law to be fitted in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance, such as a coal fire or wood burning stove. While rooms containing gas appliances are not legally required to have an alarm, as these can also emit CO it is a sensible and conscientious option to fit one for the safety of your tenants. Generally speaking, CO alarms should be installed on a wall or shelf at head height, 1 to 3 metres from the appliance.

Who is responsible for testing and maintaining the alarms?
As landlord, you are responsible for testing the alarms on the first day of each new tenancy. You may wish to ask your new tenant to sign a document stating that they have witnessed the alarms being tested, for instance as part of an inventory. While the tenancy is in place, it is the tenant’s responsibility to check the alarms are in full working order, and it is advised that they do so once a month. If an alarm is found to be faulty, the tenant should contact the landlord, who is responsible for replacing batteries or the alarm if necessary. If there is any problem with gaining access to the property to carry out remedial work, you should advise the tenant that this is a legal requirement and, of course, important to their own safety.

Are there any exemptions to the new regulations?
Generally speaking, any privately rented property should comply with the new regulations as of October 2015, regardless of whether or not an ongoing tenancy is in progress. There are a few exemptions – for instance, long leases, live-in landlords and social housing – but if you think you may be exempt you should check the full legislation.

It is strongly recommended that you read the new regulations in full. The Department for Communities and Local Government has also produced a helpful FAQ document which can be accessed here.

You can call Cenultra to install Carbon Monoxide Alarm.

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Landlords Need A Gas Safety Certificate

While there are many challenges associated with being a landlord, meeting the legal requirements and duties of the role is one of the most important aspects of the role. This is not an area where you can plead ignorance or get away with overlooking an item because you are new to the role. If you are going to act as a landlord, you are expected to meet all of the requirements and regulations that are associated with the role, and this means ensuring that you meet all of the needs and regulations, including gas safety regulations.

The law, as stated in the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations of 1998, states that it is the responsibility to have a gas safety certificate every 12 months. This must be obtained from an engineer that is Gas Safety registered. This certificate must apply to all of the pipe work, gas appliances and flues that are installed at your property.Landlords Need Gas Safety Certificate

Take responsibility for your gas safety certificate
A landlord that has responsibility for the property will need to arrange this themselves but if you are hiring the services of a property management company, you should ensure that they are keeping up to date with this requirement. It is important that you check your agreement to see who ultimately holds responsibility for ensuring that a gas certificate is in place for a property. A lot of problems have arisen because people have assumed that the other party was taking care of business. As stated already, ignorance is no defence so make sure that you check your agreements and make sure you know who is responsible for hiring a registered gas engineer to carry out the work involved in obtaining a gas safety certificate.

At Cenultra, we can provide registered gas engineers to ensure that you and your home are up to date with all legal requirements. We have a good understanding of the legal requirements people have for gas work and fittings, so if you need any assistance in knowing what you need to do, get in touch and we will be happy to help.

It is important to retain all copies of paper work relating to the certificate and you will need to hold on to the record of the inspection for a two year period. A landlord is legally required to provide their tenant with 28 days’ notice of an inspection, so if you want to be prepared in advance, get in touch with Cenultra as early as you can, and we will make sure that you are complying with all of the legal requirements associated with this matter.

Apply good practice when caring for your property
While you only need to have a gas safety inspection carried out every 12 months, it is good practice to have your gas appliances tested in between old tenants moving out and new tenants moving in. Depending on how frequently this happens, you may decide against it but there is a lot to be said for starting each new tenancy with a fresh slate with everything in good working order.
It is also of benefit to be able to present a new tenant with up to date paperwork stating that your property is up to the highest possible standard. In fact, if you obtain this service when a tenant moves out, details of your safety certificate can form part of your promotional pitch to potential tenants. Safety is very important and if you can indicate your property is safe, you are likely to receive more interest.

Another related step you can take to improve the service for your tenants, and helping to ensure that your home is properly looked after, is to install a Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarm. This is something that the HSE recommends and for many landlords, the peace of mind that comes from taking precautions like this will help to ensure you feel happy and comfortable in your role.
While the legal requirement behind obtaining a gas certificate ensures the need to get one, it is something that will be of benefit to landlords and their tenants. Owning a property is an investment and anything which helps to keep that investment safe and secure for many years to come can be seen as being money well spent. Hiring a registered gas engineer from Cenultra ensures that you receive a great value for money service and an all-important gas certificate that will provide you with the confidence you need to ensure you look after your property and tenants.

Understanding Section 21 Notice

The Section 21 notice is the procedure put in place for a landlord to commence a 3 step eviction process – for tenants with an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) contract.

First step – Issuing a Section 21 notice

The landlord does not have to give a reason for wanting the property vacated, but the landlord must give at least 2 months’ notice.
However, the landlord CANNOT use a Section 21 notice to evict the tenant during a fixed term contract, only at the end of the fixed term can 2 months’ notice then be issued.

For the Section 21 to be legal it must:

be delivered to the tenant in writing and give the tenant at least 2 months to vacate the propertysection 21 notice
it must be on s special form IF the tenant signed or renewed a contract after 1st October 2015

Next step – Going through court

If the tenant fails to vacate the property by the agreed date, the landlord can then apply for an Accelerated Possession Order. The eviction process through this possession order normally takes 4 – 6 months.

The tenant has the right to challenge the eviction procedure if they feel the Section 21 notice was not issued correctly or is invalid. The tenant can fill out a defence form to explain to the court why they feel the landlord cannot use the Section 21 notice to evict them (for example a tenant complaining about condition/repairs of the property or the rental deposit was not protected). The tenant will only have 14 days to submit the deference form to the court, if it is not submitted within that time the landlord may proceed with the accelerated possession procedure without the need of a court hearing.

If the court receives a defence form within 14 days,the court will arrange a hearing for both tenant and landlord, in order to evaluate the circumstances, then a judge will make the decision to either dismiss the possession order (in the case of a Section 21 not being valid by the landlord) or the tenant will be given a date to vacate the property.

Final Step – Court Bailiffs

If the case goes through the court and the court then issues a date for the tenant to vacate the property, if the tenant fails to vacate by this date, the landlord can then apply to the court for a bailiff to evict the tenant.

Only court bailiffs have the authority to evict the tenant and remove their belongings from the property – but not by force.
Changes to Section valid from 1st October 2015

These apply for all new assured shorthold tenancies starting after 1 October 2015 (and then after 3 years to all tenancies). By new, that means new, but will include a ‘renewal’ tenancy – a newly produced AST – granted on or after 1 October 2015
Retaliatory Eviction – the provisions of Deregulation Act will come into effect for all new assured shorthold tenancies granted on or after 1 October 2015
A section 21 cannot be served in the first 4 months of a tenancy (but this is not applicable to a statutory periodic arising, or a replacement tenancy)
A possession claim cannot be started on a section 21 after the end of 6 months from the date the notice was given
End date for a section 21 notice. The new section 21(4ZA) Housing Act 1988 removes the need for any section 21 notice to expire on the last date of a period of a tenancy (at least in England). Two months notice (for a weekly or monthly rent period) is all that is required. To accompany this is the requirement to repay the tenant pro-rata the ‘unused’ proportion of any rent paid in advance – where the section 21 expires in the course of a rent period

Differences between a Section 21 and Section 8

The differences between a Section 21 and a Section 8 seeking possession are:

For a Section 21 the landlord does not need to give a reason for the tenant eviction, whereas for a Section 8 notice the landlord must meet one of the statutory points for eviction of the tenant (there are 8 mandatory grounds, and the landlord must also adhere to the legislation Schedule 2 of 1988 Housing act).

The landlord can give anything from 2 weeks to 2 months’ notice, depending which mandatory point the tenant has broken.

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