Publication - Guidance

Private residential tenancy statutory terms: supporting notes (December 2017)

Published: 5 Dec 2017
Directorate:
Housing and Social Justice Directorate
Part of:
Housing
ISBN:
9781788514750

Notes to be used where the written terms of the tenancy are in an agreement drafted by the landlord. These notes supersede previous versions of this guidance.

42 page PDF

484.3 kB

42 page PDF

484.3 kB

Contents
Private residential tenancy statutory terms: supporting notes (December 2017)
Other Essential Housing Information

42 page PDF

484.3 kB

Other Essential Housing Information

The following essential housing information has been included in here to help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a tenant:

Tenant

If there is more than one person named on the Agreement as the Tenant the tenancy will be a joint tenancy. This means that each person is responsible on their own individually - as well as equally along with all of the others - for all of the payments and other things the tenant is required to do under the tenancy. For example, if any of the tenants in a joint tenancy fell into rent arrears, the landlord could ask one of the other named tenants to pay the money owed.

That person must pay the landlord the full sum that is owed and then try to get the other people who are also joint tenants to repay them their share.

The Agreement could include details of tenant email addresses and telephone numbers.

  • If the Landlord and Tenant agree that formal written notices will be given by email instead of by letter (see note on Communication), then email addresses must be provided. If the Agreement does not allow notices to be given by email then it is not essential for email addresses to be given.
  • It is not essential for telephone numbers to be given, but it might be useful to have telephone numbers available in an emergency or to speed up communications between the landlord and tenant.

Letting Agent

The landlord might use an agent to manage the tenancy. The Agreement will then have details of how to contact the agent.

From 2 October 2018, all businesses who carry out "letting agency work" as defined by section 61 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 must have applied to join a register of letting agents. Where this applies, the registration number should be provided in the Agreement. Not all agents will be carrying out letting agency work as defined by this Act so not all agents will have a registration number. All agents will still need to be assessed by the local authority under the landlord registration scheme. The idea of this scheme is to make sure that a private landlord and their agents are "fit and proper persons" to be involved in letting properties. Tenants can check if their landlord and/or their agent have registered by looking them up at https://www.landlordregistrationscotland.gov.uk/

The Agreement says which services the agent will be doing for the landlord. The landlord might use an agent for some things, for example sorting out repairs or cleaning of common areas.

The Agreement will state the matters the tenant should contact the agent about, instead of the landlord. For example, the landlord might want the tenant to contact the agent (instead of the landlord) if there is problem with water coming into the property or if something (like a cooker or fridge or boiler) has broken down.

Where the agent is a company, the Agreement should say which person is the first person that the tenant should try to contact.

Landlord

The names and addresses of the landlord(s) should be shown on your Agreement.

Landlord email addresses and telephone numbers might also be given.

  • If the Landlord and Tenant agree that formal written notices will be given by email instead of by letter (see note on Communication) then email addresses must be shown here. If the Agreement does not allow notices to be given by email then email addresses don’t need to be given.
  • The Agreement does not say that any formal notice or other type of contact can be made by phone, so phone numbers don’t need to be given. However, it might be useful to have phone numbers in an emergency or to speed up contact between the landlord and tenant.

The registration number of the landlord should be given. This is the landlord's number under the landlord registration scheme run by local councils. The idea of this scheme is to make sure that a private landlord is a "fit and proper person" before that landlord can rent out property. Landlords must register and you can check if your landlord has registered by looking them up at https://www.landlordregistrationscotland.gov.uk/

Communication

The Agreement should say whether notices and letters must be sent in paper letter form only or whether emails will be used instead.

You can sign the Agreement "electronically" by typing your name - instead of signing a paper copy. It will still be a legal document that the landlord and tenant must comply with by law.

The tenant does not need to agree to receive notices under the Agreement by email. If the tenant agrees to receive notices by email this could include important messages. For example telling the tenant that the rent is to go up or that the Tenancy is being brought to an end. You should think about whether email would be the right way to receive important information. The landlord and the tenant must tell each other about changes to their email addresses.

If you don’t inform your landlord about a change of email address you might miss an important email such as a Notice to Leave. That would mean that the Notice to Leave sent to the old email address would still be accepted by the Tribunal as having been properly sent even though the notice was not actually received by the tenant. In this case you can still be evicted.

When the notice is sent by email or recorded delivery post, then an extra 2 days should be added to the notice period to allow time for delivery. This is required by law, even if it is not stated in the tenancy agreement. This applies both when a tenant is sending a notice to their landlord, or when a landlord is sending a notice to their tenant.

For example, if one months' notice needs to be given before 31 December 2017, then if the notice is being given by post or by email, it should be posted or emailed no later than 28 November 2017. If the notice is being delivered by hand, it should be delivered no later than 30 November 2017.

Details of the property

The Agreement will contain the address and other details about the property - for example whether the property is a flat or a bungalow.

The Agreement should make it clear:

  • what areas and facilities are included in the property and if any of those are to be shared; and
  • what (if any) areas are not included.

This information is helpful if the property is part of a larger building where it might not be obvious which parts of the larger building are included in the property being let.

The Agreement may list shared areas, such as a shared garden or communal entrance area.

The Agreement may list parts not included in the property being let, such as, for example, a part of the garden or a parking space which is only to be used by another tenant of the building.

The Agreement should say whether or not the property is to have any furniture provided by the landlord. If there is furniture, it will probably be listed in an Inventory and Record of Condition. This is a list of all the items included so that the landlord and tenant can agree what was there at the start of the Agreement, and the condition of these things at the start of the Agreement.

The Agreement should say whether the property is in a Rent Pressure Zone. If it is, then the landlord will only be allowed to increase the rent by a certain amount each year. More information on this can be found on the Scottish Government’s website: https://beta.gov.scot/publications/private-residential-tenancies-tenants-guide/#rent-and-other-charges

The Agreement should say whether the property is a House in Multiple Occupation ( HMO). A home is an HMO:

  • if it is occupied by three or more adults (aged 16 or over)
  • they are from three or more families
  • the home is their only or main residence
  • it is either a house, premises or a group of premises owned by the same person with shared basic amenities (a toilet, personal washing facilities, and facilities for the preparation or provision of cooked food) (as defined in section 125 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006)

If the property is an HMO, the Agreement should give the 24 hour contact number and the date on which the licence for the HMO will finish.

HMO landlords must have a licence from the local authority to make sure that the property is managed properly and meets legal safety standards. Because the landlord needs to get a licence if the property is an HMO, it is important that the tenant tells the landlord if extra people move into the property (see note on Notification about other Residents).

Start date of the Tenancy

The Agreement must state the date when the tenancy begins, which will be when the tenant can move into the property.

Occupation & Use of the property

The tenant is to live at the property as the tenant's home.

The tenant must get the landlord's written consent, in advance, if the tenant wants to use the property for any work or business, in addition to living in the property.

There are many reasons why a landlord might not agree to allow any work or business use of the property, including for example:

  • the deeds which set out the landlord's ownership of the property do not allow that use; or
  • the planning permission (from the local council) for use of the property does not allow work or business use; or
  • the landlord thinks that the actual work or business which the tenant wants to do at the property would be likely to disturb or annoy neighbours; or
  • use of the property for any work or business might make the landlord's insurance for the property more expensive or even invalid; or
  • the terms of the landlord’s mortgage policy do not allow the property to be used for work or business.

Rent

The Agreement should specify the amount of rent, and how often that amount is to be paid. The payment times might be weekly, every 2 weeks, every 4 weeks, monthly, 4 times a year or once every 6 months.

The rent payments could be due to be paid in advance (at the beginning of each such amount of time) or in arrears (after that amount of time has passed). The maximum amount of rent which a landlord can ask their tenant to pay in advance is 6 months’ rent.

The Agreement should say:

  • the date on which the first payment is to be made and how long that amount of money will cover; and
  • on which date rent will next need to be paid.

The Agreement lets the landlord say how the rent should be paid. For example, the landlord might want the rent payments to be paid by bank transfer or by cheque. It is possible for the tenant to pay using another way, if that is fair. For instance, it might not be considered fair to pay the rent by a method which would result in a high bank charge to the landlord, such as payments made using some credit cards.

The Agreement should also state if any services are to be included in the rent. This is to make it clear that the tenant would not have to pay extra for those services. For example, the rent might include the cost of lighting a shared hall or stair cleaning costs. Any services which are paid monthly should be included as part of the rent. For example, if a landlord pays for stair and window cleaning and charges the tenant monthly for this cleaning that would be included. The services which are included in the rent should be listed in the Agreement along with the amount for each service.

Where there are one-off payments throughout a tenancy, such as where the landlord agrees to carry out a repair for the tenant for a fee, then this will not form part of the rent.

The landlord is not allowed to charge a tenant for other services - such as the cost of preparing a lease, 'key money', administration charges, or for the cost of preparing an inventory etc. These charges are known as 'premiums'. If the landlord charges a premium, the tenant should write and ask for a refund. If the landlord refuses to provide a refund, then a claim could be made through the Tribunal. The tenant could also contact the local council’s landlord registration team, or, if the landlord holds a HMO licence, the tenant could contact the local council’s licensing team to help with this.

Rents of tenants with a private residential tenancy in a rent pressure zone can only rise, each year, by an amount set by Scottish Ministers which is linked to inflation (rises in the cost of living generally). More detailed information on this is available at https://beta.gov.scot/publications/private-residential-tenancies-tenants-guide/#rent-and-other-charges

A landlord in a Rent Pressure Zone can also apply to the Rent Officer to allow a further increase to your rent because the landlord has done work to improve the property. This increase in rent would be in addition to any inflation related increase in the rent.

Deposit

When a tenant moves into a rented home, most landlords will ask for a deposit. This is a sum of money which acts as a guarantee against various things. These are things like damage that the tenant may do to the property, costs for any cleaning which may be needed, bills (for example electricity) that are left unpaid, as well as any unpaid rent.

The total amount of the deposit cannot be more than 2 months' rent. If you are charged more than two months' rent, then you can contact Shelter Scotland or a Citizens Advice Bureau for advice about claiming back the extra amount.

A deposit must be held by a tenancy deposit scheme until the end of the tenancy. This is to stop the landlord using a deposit as if it was the landlord's own money. Tenancy deposit schemes are run by independent companies which are approved by the Scottish Government. The landlord has to pay the deposit to one of the schemes within 30 working days from the start of the tenancy. (Working days are usually Monday to Friday - so 30 working days is usually 6 weeks.) There will be no charge to the tenant or landlord to pay the deposit into one of the schemes.

The tenant should receive a letter or email from the tenancy deposit scheme confirming that their deposit has been lodged. The letter will set out the amount of the deposit and explain how it will be repaid and how any disputes can be settled.

If the tenant does not receive a letter from an approved deposit scheme after 6 weeks, they should contact their landlord. If the landlord has not lodged their deposit, the tenant should raise a complaint with the Tribunal. If the landlord has not used one of the schemes, the Tribunal can order the landlord to pay up to 3 times the deposit to the tenant.

Within 30 working days after the start of the tenancy the landlord must give the tenant all of this information about the deposit:

  • the amount of the deposit;
  • the date that the landlord received the deposit and the date that the landlord paid the deposit into a scheme;
  • the address of the property to which the deposit relates - so the property let to the tenant;
  • a statement from the landlord confirming the landlord is registered or has applied to be registered with the local council;
  • the name and contact details of the tenancy deposit scheme where the deposit was paid; and
  • the terms on which the deposit is held - including (1) when the deposit is to be returned to the tenant and (2) the circumstances where the landlord can be paid some or all of the deposit at the end of the tenancy, instead of the deposit being paid back to the tenant.

Examples of money that the landlord can ask to be paid by the scheme (and not paid back to the tenant) are:

  • unpaid rent
  • other amounts not paid or the cost of any repairs needed if the tenant caused the damage
  • to pay bills left unpaid by the tenant

If there are no issues like that at the end of the tenancy, then the landlord should ask the scheme to pay the full amount of the deposit back to the tenant.

At the end of the tenancy the landlord should ask the tenancy deposit scheme to release the deposit and the amounts payable to the tenant and the Landlord.

The deposit scheme will contact the tenant to check whether the tenant agrees with the landlord's figures.

Different things happen, depending on whether the tenant agrees with the landlord's figures or not:

  • If the tenant agrees with the landlord's figures, then the scheme will pay those amounts to the landlord and tenant.
  • If the tenant does not agree with the landlord's figures, then the tenant must contact the landlord. The landlord and the tenant need to try to agree what, if any amount, is to be deducted from the deposit and kept by the landlord. If the landlord and tenant cannot agree, the tenant can ask the Tenancy Deposit Scheme which holds their deposit to use their dispute resolution process. The dispute will be sent to an independent adjudicator who has the role of reaching a decision in a dispute. The adjudicator will be given any evidence (for example photographs or receipts) and will come to a decision about the amount (if any) to be given by the scheme to the landlord and the amount to be repaid to the tenant.

If the tenant does not respond within 30 days, then the landlord will be paid the amount that the landlord requested be deducted for rent, repairs and other costs - and the rest (if anything is left) will be repaid to the tenant.

If the landlord has not, by the time that the tenancy ends, asked the scheme to release the deposit, then the tenant can apply to the deposit scheme for repayment. In that case, the deposit scheme will contact the landlord to ask whether the landlord agrees that the whole deposit should be repaid to the tenant or whether the landlord thinks that an amount should be taken off and paid to the landlord.

If the landlord does not agree that the whole deposit should be repaid to the tenant, then the landlord can try to agree the figures with the tenant. But if the landlord and tenant cannot agree the figures, then the decision is referred to an independent decision-maker.

Overcrowding

The tenant must not allow the property to become overcrowded. If the tenant does allow this to happen, then the landlord can evict the tenant.

What counts as overcrowding for a property depends on the number and size of the rooms, as well as the age, gender (male or female) and relationships of the people that live there.

There is a room standard and a space standard when working out if there is overcrowding. The Scottish Government's Guidance to local authorities gives details of the standards at Annex A. This guidance can be accessed here:

http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0038/00387514.pdf

If too many people do live at a property, the local authority might do something to stop the overcrowding.

A home is an HMO:

  • if it is occupied by three or more adults (aged 16 or over)
  • they are from three or more families
  • the home is their only or main residence
  • it is either a house, premises or a group of premises owned by the same person with shared basic amenities (a toilet, personal washing facilities, and facilities for the preparation or provision of cooked food) (as defined in section 125 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006)

The local authority will tell the landlord how many people are allowed to live in any HMO property.

More advice on overcrowding is available from Shelter Scotland or the council.

Insurance

The landlord will pay the premiums if they insure the property and any items which belong to the landlord, for example any furniture on the inventory.

The tenant can choose whether or not to insure the things that the tenant brings into the property. Insuring the tenant's belongings is not the responsibility of the landlord.

The tenant must pay for the cost of any damage caused by the tenant (or by any visitors) to the property or fixtures and fittings, for example kitchen cupboards, fitted wardrobes and fitted kitchen appliances.

Any defect or breakdown caused by normal wear and tear does not need to be paid for by the tenant. Wear and tear is allowed, because if you use something in the normal way, then it will become worn out over time. The tenant should not have to pay to replace things which have just been worn out by being used in a normal way.

Absences

A long absence from the property may affect the landlord’s insurance costs. If the tenant is not going to be at the property for more than 2 weeks at a time, then the tenant must do three things:

  • Before the property is left unoccupied, the tenant must tell the landlord that they won’t be there and for how long;
  • Before leaving, the tenant must do anything reasonable that the landlord has asked the tenant to do to keep the property secure during the tenant's absence - this means to stop the property being broken into or lived in by anyone else; and
  • Before leaving, the tenant must have checked the property to be sure that, during the tenant's absence, reasonable care will still be taken of the property, as set out in Note 17 – Reasonable Care. For example, if the property is going to be empty during the winter time the tenant should make sure that (1) the heating is on timer, to stop the property getting damp inside and (2) the water is turned off, to prevent damage that might be caused by burst pipes.

Reasonable Care

The tenant must take reasonable care of the property and of any common areas that the tenant is allowed to use.

"Reasonable care" is the sort of care that a reasonable occupier would take to keep the property in good condition, to keep safety systems in working order and to limit the risk of any harm being done to other properties or to neighbours.

Such "reasonable care" under the Agreement includes, for example, the tenant taking all reasonable steps to:

  • keep the property adequately ventilated (aired out) and heated;
  • not bring any hazardous (dangerous) or combustible (easily catch fire) goods or material into the property. The tenant can keep petrol and gas for garden appliances (mowers etc.), barbecues or other commonly used household goods or appliances in the property (or garden shed) provided that these things are safely stored in appropriate containers;
  • not put any oil, grease or other harmful or corrosive substance into any toilet, sink, bath, shower, washing machine, dishwasher or drain;
  • prevent water pipes freezing in cold weather - by not removing any lagging and by keeping the property appropriately heated;
  • avoid danger to the property or neighbouring properties by way of fire or flooding - for example, not leaving lit candles unattended or overloading electricity sockets with too many plugs or leaving taps running;
  • keep the property and its fitted items clean;
  • not to do anything to stop the smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, heat detectors or the fire alarm system from working as they should; and
  • not to remove or prevent the working of or do anything else to door closer mechanisms.

The Repairing Standard Etc & Other Information

1. The Repairing Standard

The landlord must ensure that the property is in the condition, and has the facilities, set out in the Repairing Standard.

If the property is not in that condition, or does not have any of those facilities, the tenant or the local council can apply to the Tribunal to tell the landlord to do what is needed.

The Repairing Standard means:

  • The property must be wind and water tight and in all other respects fit for people to live in. For example, there should not be any gaps between window or door frames and walls or any missing roof slates or tiles, which result in wind or rain getting into the property.
  • The structure and exterior (including drains, gutters and external pipes) must be in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order. For example, walls must be in a reasonable condition, as must roofs so as to avoid water leaking through the roof into the property.
  • Installations for water supply, gas and electricity and for sanitation, heating and heating water must be in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order.
  • Pipes, tanks, boilers, meters and cables, toilets, radiators and other heaters - must all be in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order.
  • Any fixtures, fittings and appliances that the landlord provides under the tenancy must be in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order. Appliances include, for example, kitchen and laundry equipment such as cookers, microwave ovens, fridges and freezers, washing machines, tumble dryers, kettles, toasters and the like.
  • Any furnishings (such as chairs, settees and beds) that the landlord provides under the tenancy must be capable of being used safely for the purpose for which they are designed. One thing that this will mean is that they meet fire retardant standards.
  • The property must have a way (such as smoke alarms wired to the mains electricity supply - not battery powered) of detecting fires and for giving warning in the event of a fire or suspected fire. (The Scottish Government guidance on this is found at https://beta.gov.scot/publications/fire-safety-guidance-private-rented-properties/)
  • The property must have a way to warn if carbon monoxide is present in a concentration that is dangerous for people. (The Scottish Government guidance on this is found at https://beta.gov.scot/publications/carbon-monoxide-alarms-in-private-rented-properties-guidance/)

Before the tenancy begins, the landlord must check whether the property meets the Repairing Standard. If it does not, the landlord must notify the tenant of any work that needs to be done to make the property meet the Repairing Standard - and the landlord must then get that work done (at the landlord's cost) within a reasonable time.

The landlord must also make sure the property meets the Repairing Standard throughout the tenancy - except that the landlord does not have to repair any damage that was caused by the tenant (which goes beyond normal wear and tear).

If the tenant tells the landlord about a defect, then the landlord must fix it within a reasonable time. If the landlord causes any damage when they are carrying out repairs, the landlord must also repair that damage.

If the tenant thinks the landlord has failed to make sure the property meets the Repairing Standard, then the tenant should first contact the landlord. If the landlord does not sort the problem out, then the tenant can apply to the Tribunal.

The Tribunal might do one of three things:

  • It might reject the application; or
  • It might agree with the tenant and order the landlord to carry out repairs; or
  • It might suggest that the dispute could be resolved by both the tenant and the landlord, perhaps with the help of mediation - which is a third person meeting with the landlord and tenant to try to find a way of sorting things out.

If the landlord is ordered to carry out repairs, the order will give them a reasonable amount of time to carry out the repairs. If they do not do so, the Tribunal can issue a rent relief order. The rent relief order is an order reducing the rent the tenant has to pay by an amount not exceeding 90%. The tenant should not withhold rent without a rent relief order being issued by the Tribunal.

2. Structure & Exterior

The landlord must keep the structure of the building in good repair.

This includes:

  • drains, gutters and outside pipes;
  • roof;
  • outside walls, doors, windowsills, window catches, sash cords, and window frames;
  • inside walls, floors, ceilings, doors, door frames, inside stair cases and landings;
  • chimneys, chimney stacks, and flues;
  • pathways, steps or other means of access;
  • plaster work;
  • boundary walls and fences.

Sometimes the landlord might be responsible, along with owners of homes nearby, to keep certain common parts of a building or walls between two properties in good repair. Examples of this might be where the property is a flat in a tenement building. In that case the common parts would usually include items such as the roof, common doors, the staircase giving access to all flats and the back court area. The landlord would need to carry out repairs to these things - but this would be shared with the owners of all of the other flats within the tenement.

3. Gas Safety

If the property has a gas supply, then the landlord must arrange for a gas safety check to be carried out, by a gas safe registered engineer, on all gas pipes and appliances (for example fire, hob, oven and boiler) in the property which have been supplied by the landlord. This must be done every year.

After each yearly check, the engineer signs a Landlord Gas Safety Record, which notes the results of the checks and confirms whether each gas appliance meets the safety standard it needs to.

The landlord must make sure that the property is safe. If the tenant has any concerns about the safety of any gas item in the property, or knows that any gas appliances or pipework are not working properly - for example, there’s a smell of gas or the pilot light in a boiler does not stay lit - then the tenant must tell the landlord.

The landlord must give the tenant a copy of each yearly Landlord Gas Safety Record which is issued by the gas safe registered engineer. If the landlord does not do this, the tenant can contact the Health & Safety Executive for advice or can get gas safety advice at www.gassaferegister.co.uk. Also, the tenant could contact the local council, which could require the landlord to provide the Record to the tenant or face losing their registration as a landlord with the local council.

If a gas engineer decides that any gas appliance is unsafe - which is often called "condemned" - then the tenant must not use that appliance.

Carbon monoxide detectors go off (so the alarm sounds) if carbon monoxide is present in a property. Carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas which can cause illness or even death. Unlike the gas which powers the appliances in a property (like the boiler and hob), carbon monoxide does not have any smell - the only way to know that carbon monoxide is in a property is by having a carbon monoxide detector. Because of this, the landlord must have carbon monoxide detectors installed in the property if there are appliances which use carbon based fuel - which would be gas, wood, coal, other solid fuel or oil.

A carbon monoxide detector must be in:

  • each room or inter-connected space such as a garage, that has
    a fixed carbon based fuel powered appliance (except one solely used for cooking) - so, for example, every room or inter-connected space that has a fire, heater or a boiler; and
  • if the flue from any carbon based fuel powered appliance passes through any bedroom or living room, then in each of those rooms too.

The Scottish Government guidance about carbon monoxide alarms in private rented homes is at https://beta.gov.scot/publications/carbon-monoxide-alarms-in-private-rented-properties-guidance/

4. Electrical Safety

The landlord must ensure that all electric fittings and items in the property are in a reasonable state of repair and in proper and safe working order.

As part of this duty to keep electric fittings and items in a reasonable state of repair, the landlord must arrange for an electrical safety inspection to be carried out at least every 5 years. That inspection must be carried out by a qualified person who then issues two reports:

  • an Electrical Installation Condition Report ( EICR) on any fixed installations; and
  • a Portable Appliance Testing Report ( PAT) on moveable appliances - and the inspector should also stick a label on each tested item which sets out the inspection date and when the next test is due, and each label should be signed by the inspector.

The landlord must give the tenant copies of both reports.

If the tester says that testing should be more frequent than once every five years (for example, once every 3 years), then the landlord must follow this advice.

The EICR must cover:

  • Installations for the supply of electricity,
  • Electrical fittings, such as switches, sockets and visible wiring
  • Visual inspection of fixed electrical equipment such as electric showers, hard-wired smoke and fire detectors, and storage or panel heaters.

The PAT covers movable appliances, which are any electrical items provided by the landlord, that are not fitted or fixed in, but can be moved about easily. These include appliances like kettles, lamps, vacuum cleaners, and white goods such as fridges or washing machines.

The Scottish Government statutory guidance on electrical installations and appliances in private rented property can be found at https://beta.gov.scot/publications/electrical-installations-and-appliances-private-rented-properties/

5. Smoke Detectors and heat alarms

The smoke and heat alarms in the property must be powered by the electrical mains - they must not be battery powered.

There must be one working smoke alarm in:

  • The room which is most often lived in during the daytime, which would likely be the living or dining room
  • Every circulation space, such as hallways and landings
  • There must also be a heat alarm in the kitchen.
  • All alarms should be linked (radio-linked alarms are acceptable).

The landlord also needs to make sure that the property is fit and safe for people to live in. Therefore, the landlord must make sure that there are no fire hazards in the property, like loose wiring.

If the tenant thinks there are fire risks in the property, then the tenant should contact the landlord. If the landlord refuses to fit smoke or heat alarms or to fix any fire risks, the tenant can contact the Tribunal or contact the local authority's Environmental Health Department.

6. Installations

Anything which was in the property (or is part of the property) at the start of the lease is something provided by the landlord. These items must be kept, by the landlord, in proper working order - and repaired when needed.

This duty on the landlord does not apply to things brought into the property by the tenant.

The installations in the Let Property may include the following:

  • basins, sinks, baths, toilets, and showers;
  • gas or electric fires and central heating systems;
  • electrical wiring;
  • door entry systems;
  • cookers;
  • extractor fans;
  • carbon monoxide detectors;
  • smoke alarms;
  • heat detectors;
  • fire extinguishers and blankets (but only if the property is a House in Multiple Occupation).

7. Energy Performance Certificate

Before the tenancy starts, the landlord must give the tenant a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate ( EPC) for the property if one is needed. If the tenancy is for renting a room with shared access to other rooms such as a kitchen, bathroom and living room, an EPC is not needed.

It is a requirement under law that the EPC must be ‘affixed’ to the building - it will often be located in the boiler or meter cupboard.

The EPC must not be more than 10 years old. The EPC has to be made available to a tenant free of charge.

The EPC tells the tenant about the energy efficiency of the property. If a property is energy efficient, the fuel bills for the person living in the home (for heating and lighting) will be lower than if the property is not energy efficient.

The EPC ratings can be A, B, C, D, E, F or G.

An "A" rating on an EPC is the best rating - this would be given to a home which was very energy efficient and should have low bills for fuel and lighting.

A "G" rating on an EPC is the worst - so the least energy efficient, which may have higher bills for fuel and lighting.

8. Furnishings

The landlord must make sure that:

  • all upholstered furniture (like settees, arm chairs and dining chairs with soft seat coverings) and
  • all mattresses

which are in the property at the start of the tenancy meet the standards set out in the Furniture & Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 as amended so should have labels attached to them which show that they meet these Regulations.

Tenants should report worn or broken furnishings and coverings to the landlord as these can make furniture unsafe and present a fire risk.

9. Defective Fixtures & Fittings

The landlord must keep all fixtures and fittings in the property at the start of the tenancy in a good state of repair. This applies, for example, to fitted kitchen units and fitted wardrobes, toilets, sinks, baths, showers and fitted kitchen appliances such as hobs and ovens.

The tenant should tell the landlord if any fixtures and fittings need to be repaired. The landlord must get the repairs done within a reasonable time.

10. Repair Timetable

Often, a landlord will only find out that something in the property is not working or needs to be repaired when the tenant tells their landlord about it.

The tenant must tell the landlord as soon as they can about any repair being needed or if there is something urgent. The landlord then has to carry out any repairs as soon as they reasonably can.

The tenant must give the landlord reasonable access to get the repair work done.

What is a reasonable period to carry out repairs will vary depending on the type of repair which is needed and how dangerous or unsafe it might be to leave that item not repaired.

If the landlord does not carry out repairs within a reasonable period, the tenant can ask the Tribunal to order the landlord to carry out these repairs. Also, for some major repairs or those that cause a safety issue, the tenant might be able to get the local council to order the landlord to do the work or the local council might do the work and ask the landlord to pay the costs. The local council also has powers to report the landlord to the Tribunal for their failure to meet the Repairing Standard.

11. Payment for Repairs

If damage was caused by the fault or negligence of

  • the tenant or someone living with the tenant at the property or
  • someone visiting,

then the tenant is responsible.

This means that the tenant must pay for the damage to be fixed. The tenant should discuss with the landlord having the repair carried out. The landlord might prefer to arrange to get the damage fixed and send a bill for the costs to the tenant.

Damage would be caused by fault if it was done on purpose.

Damage would be caused by negligence if it was not done on purpose but the person who caused the damage did not take normal care to avoid the damage. For example, a person is negligent if he leaves a skylight window open all day when rain is forecast and this results in the carpet and furnishings in the room below being damaged by the rain. Another example might be a person causes a burn mark to appear on a kitchen table by placing a pot, straight from a hot burner on the cooker hob, onto the table top.

12. Information

The tenant will be asked by the landlord to meet the costs of any repairs and the landlord should supply them with copies of the receipts for such costs.

The landlord must give the tenant copies of:

  • the Landlord's Gas Safety Record (Note 0 - Gas Safety);
  • the Electrical Safety Inspection Report and the Portable Appliance Testing Report (Note 0 – Electrical Safety); and
  • the Energy Performance Certificate ( EPC) for the property (Note 7 – Energy Performance Certificate).

These must be given to the tenant before, or at the start of, the tenancy.

Legionella

The landlord must take all reasonable steps to reduce the risk of the presence of legionella bacteria.

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by legionella bacteria and is a kind of pneumonia (or lung infection).

The legionella bacteria which causes the disease is sometimes present in cold or hot water systems in buildings. It is therefore important to try to keep the risk as low as possible by taking certain steps.

The landlord must carry out a risk assessment.

Simple control measures can help to minimise the risk of exposure to Legionella. These include:

  • flushing out a water system before the start of a tenancy - so flushing all toilets and running water through all cold and hot water taps and showers for a period of time;
  • avoiding debris getting into the system - for example by making sure that any cold water tanks have a tight fitting lid; and
  • making sure any pipework which is no longer used is removed.

If a property is served directly by mains cold water, then there is only a low risk of legionella bacteria in the cold water, as it flows from a moving supply, not from stored water.

If a property is served by hot water:

  • from a tank which is regularly heated to over 60 degrees centigrade; or
  • from an instant hot water boiler - which does not store heated water, but heats it as it is used,

then, again, there is only a low risk of legionella bacteria in the hot water system.

To keep the risk of legionella bacteria being present in the property low, tenants:

  • should not alter the controls on any hot water system in a way which would increase the legionella risk (for example lowering the regular heat temperature to below 60 degrees); and
  • should regularly clean shower heads - as these result in a spray of tiny drops of water which might be breathed into the lungs.

Respect for Others

The tenant and anyone living at the property must not be involved in antisocial behaviour at the property.

“Antisocial behaviour” means behaving in a way:

  • which causes, or is likely to cause, alarm, upset, nuisance or annoyance; or
  • which is harassment.

‘At the property’ includes to other people in the property, any neighbour, any visitor, the landlord or those acting for the landlord or any tradesman.#

Examples of antisocial behaviour are:

  • making too much noise - including from televisions, CD players, digital media players, radios and musical instruments, DIY or power tools;
  • not controlling pets (including allowing them to bark too much) or allowing pets to foul or cause damage to other people’s property or common areas of the property such as the garden;
  • allowing visitors to the property to be too noisy;
  • vandalising or damaging the property or any part of the common areas or neighbourhood;
  • leaving rubbish other than in the bins provided or leaving rubbish out to be picked up on a day when it is not due to be picked up;
  • allowing the tenant and/or any other person (including children) living in or using the property to cause a nuisance or annoyance to other people;
  • harassing any other tenant or occupier, visitors, neighbours, family members of the landlord or employees of the landlord or agent, or any other person or persons in the house, or neighbourhood, for whatever reason. This includes behaviour due to that person’s race, colour or ethnic origin, nationality, gender, sexuality, disability, age, religion or other belief, or other status;
  • using or carrying weapons;
  • using, selling, growing, making or supplying unlawful drugs or selling alcohol;
  • storing or bringing onto the property any type of unlicensed firearm or firearm ammunition including any replica or decommissioned firearms;
  • using the property, or allowing it to be used, for illegal or immoral purposes - an example of an illegal purpose might be for carrying on a business for which local council consents have not been obtained; and
  • threatening or assaulting any other tenant or occupier, visitors, neighbours, family members of the landlord or employees of the landlord or agent, or any other person or persons in the house, or neighbourhood, for whatever reason.

The above list of examples does not include every sort of antisocial behaviour. There could be other actions, failures to act or words spoken (or shouted) which would amount to antisocial behaviour.

The landlord can take action against the tenant if there is a breach of the antisocial behaviour clause in the tenancy.

Landlords have a responsibility to try to stop antisocial behaviour taking place. So if the tenant is involved in antisocial behaviour the landlord must do something to try to stop it. This could include:

  • investigating complaints about the tenant's behaviour;
  • writing to the tenant to explain that the behaviour is causing concern and asking the tenant to stop the behaviour;
  • giving advice on how to reduce noise to an acceptable level;
  • asking the local council to apply for an Antisocial Behaviour Order or ASBO against the tenant;
  • going to court to get an order of the court (called an "interdict") to stop the tenant from behaving in a certain way; and
  • warning the tenant that they may be removed from the property if they do not stop the antisocial behaviour. (As antisocial behaviour is a discretionary ground for eviction – see note on Ending the Agreement).

If the landlord's attempts to deal with antisocial behaviour do not work, the landlord can ask the local council to step in to assist. If the antisocial behaviour continues, the landlord may begin the process to evict the tenant.

If a landlord does not try to stop the antisocial behaviour, the local council can serve an Antisocial Behaviour Notice on the landlord ordering the landlord to take action to deal with the problem, for example to evict the tenant, or at least warn the tenant that they may be evicted if they continue to behave in that way.

If the landlord does not do what the local council's Antisocial Behaviour Notice says, then the local council can ask the Court to stop rent payments to the landlord or to give the local council control of the property.

If a tenant is affected by other people's antisocial behaviour, the tenant should keep a written record of what happens, each time it happens, with dates and times. Depending on how bad things are, the tenant should contact:

  • the nearest Citizens' Advice Bureau or the Antisocial Behaviour team at the local authority - both of which can give the tenant advice on the tenant's rights and what might be the best action for the tenant to take (which could be to contact the police); or
  • the local authority’s antisocial behaviour team; or
  • the police - who can take action to stop certain behaviours.

Equality Requirements

Under the Equality Act 2010, the landlord is not allowed to show bias against a tenant, or against a person who wants to become a tenant of a property, on the basis of:

  • that person's disability, sex or gender reassignment; or
  • that person's pregnancy or the fact that the person has a baby or babies or child or children; or
  • that person's race, religion or belief or sexual orientation.

If a tenant thinks they have been unfairly treated by a landlord because of a protected characteristic, then the tenant can:

  • complain directly to the landlord; or
  • in some cases to make a claim through the Tribunal, if for example an Agreement contains a discriminatory clause that the Tribunal could remove or if that discrimination led to an unfair rent or unlawful eviction; or
  • contact the Equality Advisory Support Service for help and advice. https://www.gov.uk/equality-advisory-support-service

Data Protection

The landlord must comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 to ensure that the tenant's personal data is held where it’s secure and only disclosed in a legal manner.

Under data protection law, "personal data" is protected.

Landlords need to:

  • safeguard all tenants' data;
  • make sure that data is only passed on if the landlord can do so legally, and
  • not retain data for longer than they need to.

Landlords might need to give tenants a privacy notice to tell them what can be done with data which they hold and how they might use it.

There are some situations where the landlord can disclose data about the tenant. For example, they are allowed to give the tenant's details to the local council or utility companies.

Further guidance on data protection law in relation to tenancies can be found on the Information Commissioners Office website at https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/housing/landlords/

The Information Commissioners Office enforces these laws and deals with complaints about data protection.

Tenant's belongings to be removed

The tenant must remove the tenant's belongings when the tenancy ends. This will include everything that the tenant has brought into the property.

If the tenant leaves items behind, and the landlord then has to spend money removing them or storing them, then it is likely that the tenant will have to pay the costs of removal or storage.

The landlord should supply the tenant with copies of the receipts for such costs.


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