THE PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR LANDLORDS
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In order to be able to let a property the landlord needs to ensure it is fit for purpose, and as free from potential hazards as possible.
There are various bits of legislation that cover this:-
The Fitness Standard, introduced in the 1985 Landlord & Tenant Act, and given a new lease of life in the recent Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, whereby a home has to be fit for habitation at the outset of the let, and the landlord has an ongoing repairing obligation that cannot be ignored.
This was supplemented by the Decent Homes Standard in 2000, updated in 2006.
The problem was that the legislation is quite vague in places and open to misinterpretation. In an attempt to bring greater clarity the Housing Act of 2004 introduced HHSRS.
HHSRS (Housing Health and Rating System). HHSRS, often referred to as the Rating System is a system for assessing housing conditions by looking at 29 different hazards, and trying to recommend ways to minimise problems. It recognises the fact that a property cannot be hazard free. The full list of the 29 hazards can be seen here; they are broken down into 4 main categories:-
– Physiological, including damp and mould; excess cold and heat; asbestos; lead and others.
– Psychological, including crowding; lighting; noise and entry by intruders.
– Protection against infection, describing how to avoid vermin and pests; food safety; and keeping the property and the occupants clean.
– Protection against accidents. Looking at various different ways to fall; electrical and fire hazards; and the danger from poor structural elements.
An operating guide can be seen here.
Electrical Safety. It is also necessary for any electrical installations in property to be fit for purpose. Currently (March 2019) it is only necessary for a landlord or manager to carry out a visual inspection of the visible electrical elements of the property at the outset of the let. This would include any portable items supplied. The very best way of testing portable items is to have them PAT tested (Portable Appliance Testing), but this currently is not a legal requirement.
If the property is an HMO it is necessary for the manager of the HMO (normally the landlord) to have a valid electrical safety inspection certificate.
It is proposed that sometime in 2019 all rental property will need some kind of test certificate.
Note that a tenant can now complain direct to a court if they believe they have a problem.