Obligation and Best Practice
Cleaning Guidelines for Landlords
The state of a property serves three purposes; firstly, it has been shown that Tenants look after properties given to them in a good condition; secondly, it is easier for the Inventory Clerk at the end of the tenancy to prove damage, markings, early wear and tear caused by the Tenant; and thirdly, the Landlord will receive the property back in a clean condition. A Tenants deposit is held in lieu of any additional cleaning that needs to take place.
- Steam, dry or shampoo clean the following: all carpets, upholstery and curtains – if done professionally, receipts to be retained
- Polish/wash all wooden floor and tiled floors
- All woodwork to be wiped down and touched up if necessary i.e. Doors, skirting boards, banisters, sills, etc.
- All kitchen appliances to be thoroughly cleaned inside and out, extractor fans and hobs not to be left out
- Bathroom suites to be cleaned, removal of lime scale on showers, baths and tiles. Any necessary re-grouting to be carried out
- All fireplaces to be professionally swept
- Any lofts, garages and sheds to be cleared out with exception of any agreed lawnmowers, garden tools, etc.
- General house cleaning i.e. windows (inside and out), cupboards, cobwebs, paintwork and UPVC windows (inside and out), etc.
- Label stopcocks
- Leave instructions for appliances left at the property
- Entrance hall
At the commencement of every Tenancy the property is to be in a professionally clean state. If the property is a new instruction for D&S, it is the Landlords’ responsibility to arrange for all necessary works, décor and cleaning to be completed so that the property is ready for the Inventory and Schedule of Condition to be carried out on the agreed date.
Recent legislation has served to emphasise the importance placed by the Government on safety in the home. Various regulations covering furniture, gas and electrical apparatus have been introduced which place obligations on Landlords as set out below.
It is important that you are aware of your potential liability under the various pieces of legislation, which are now in force. We cannot over-emphasise the importance of ensuring that the premises you are letting together with any furniture and equipment supplied as part of the letting, comply fully with the law.
The purpose of these notes is to outline the main points of the legislation and Landlords obligations thereunder. If you find yourself in any doubt with regards to your liability, D&G staff will be happy to provide information upon request.
Gas Safe Certification
It is a criminal offence to let a property with gas appliances, installation and pipe-work that have not been checked by a GAS SAFE registered engineer. The certificate issued lasts for twelve months and must be renewed annually whilst the property remains let.
Our property management team, ensure that all current legislation is complied with and advise fully, Landlords of the requirements. We have negotiated favourable rates for safety testing from reputable local companies and are happy to undertake the organisation of the inspections on behalf of our Landlords.
D&S do not commence marketing of any property unless we are in receipt of a valid Gas Safety Certificate. If a Landlord chooses to use their own contractor, we will require proof of the GAS SAFE registration.
Gas Safety Certificates are held on file and a copy is provided to the Tenants prior to occupation.
Equally those properties with Oil or Solid Fuel heating must be regularly serviced to ensure their safety.
Update to Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Legislation
The Government has introduced the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations (2015) to ensure landlords in private rented sector in England are responsible for ensuring that the smoke and carbon monoxide detectros are appropriately installed and are in proper working order at the start of a new tenancy.
As of 1st October 015 landlords will have to ensure that a smoke alarm is fitted on every floor of their property where is a room used wholly or partly as living accomodation. They will also have to put a carbon monoxide alarm any where a solid fuel is burnty, such as coal or biomass and includes open fires. It does not include gas, oil or LPG.
Further information regarding Gas Safety may be found at www.hse.gov.uk/gas/
Electrical Safety, Rental Property and The Law
Whilst the legislation for electrical safety is less explicit than that of gas safety and there is no GAS SAFE equivalent for inspection standards, it is nevertheless a statutory duty for Landlords and agents to ensure that all electrical wiring and equipment present in a rental property is safe for use and maintained adequately.
Mains Installation and Fixed Wiring
The two main Acts of Parliament that impose a statutory duty on Landlords with respect to safety, including electrics are:
- The Consumer Protection Act 1987
- The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (section 11)
The only way a Landlord can check that the electrical installation (the fixed wiring) in the property is safe is by having a Periodic Inspection and Report (PIR) carried out. This report identifies any deficiencies against the safety standard for electrical installations. Any areas that require attention will be detailed in the report, together with a recommendation of remedial works required, if any, in order of priority. It is considered best practice to have a PIR carried out when a property is first prepared for letting and every five years thereafter.
There are also several items of secondary legislation under the umbrella of the Consumer Protection Act which are directly relevant to the supply of electrical goods, including:
- The Low Voltage Electrical Equipment Regulations 1989
- The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994
- The General Product (Safety) Regulations 1994
- The Plugs and Sockets (Safety) Regulations 1994
D&S require that mains installation and fixed wiring and all portable appliances (any item with an accessible plug) to be tested prior to the commencement of the initial tenancy and a Portable Appliance Test (PAT) to be completed annually thereafter.
Our property management team, ensure that all current legislation is complied with and fully advise Landlords of the requirements. We have negotiated favourable rates for safety testing from reputable local companies and are happy to undertake the organization of the inspections on behalf of our Landlords.
The PIR and PAT is held on our records and a copy provided to the Tenant prior to occupation.
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988
All upholstery and upholstered furnishings supplied as part of a tenancy must comply with current fire resistance standards. It is a criminal offence, punishable by a fine and/or a prison term, to let premises with furniture or soft furnishings which cannot be proven to comply with the above fire safety regulations. The regulations apply to the following which must be match resistant, cigarette resistant and carry a permanent label:
- All upholstered furniture
- Three piece suites
- Beds and divans including the upholstered bases
- Padded headboards
- Furniture with loose or fitted covers
- Children's furniture
- Cots and other items used by a baby or small child
- High Chairs
- Mattresses of any size
- Garden Furniture which may be used indoors
Items such as carpets and curtains are not included. Any furniture manufactured prior to 1950 will be exempt, provided that they have not been re-upholstered with an illegal filling. All furnishings must carry the appropriate permanent labels to show that they comply. Any furnishings that do not comply with the regulations must be removed prior to the start of the tenancy.
Landlords must have buildings and contents insurance for their rental property, and should be careful to choose an insurance policy that is designed specifically for their needs and obligations.
Tenants must have insurance which covers accidental damage to the Landlord’s property and personal liability cover should their negligence cause damage. This will help to protect a Tenant's deposit in the event of an insured incident. This cover is typically available under a contents policy.
Under the terms of the tenancy agreement Tenants are required to have suitable insurance cover for accidental damage that may occur to Landlord’s contents, fixtures and fittings in place for the duration of the tenancy. Proof of insurance cover must be provided before the start date of the tenancy.
The Tenant has the legal right to have a water meter installed under the Water Act 2003. The Landlord cannot object.
Control of Legionella
It is the Landlord responsibility to ensure the property is safe from bacteria found in water systems. Particularly in systems that have become stale or stagnant through lack of use or irregular use. Most commonly found in air conditioning systems, humidifiers, whirlpool spas, hot water systems, showers, ice making machines internally and freshwater ponds, reeks and ornamental fountains externally. A risk assessment should be carried out by the Landlord to assess whether the conditions are right for bacteria to flourish in water temperatures from 20 to 45°C and areas of stagnant water, infrequently used outlets, debris in the system, as well as thermostatic mixing valves needing to be inspected.
Steps which can be taken;
- To raise the temperature of warm water – but not to cause scalding
- Disinfect the system
- Insulate pipework
- Keep water systems covered and free from debris
- Flush through rarely used showers and taps
It is now law that Landlords carry out an assessment on all hot and cold water systems or pay a penalty of up to £20,000 to take place every 2 years or at the change of a tenancy.
Energy Performance Certificates (“EPC”)
As from October 1st 2008 all properties going on the market for letting must have an EPC. The Landlord must provide us with an EPC when first giving instructions. The Premises cannot be marketed without an EPC. We can arrange an EPC at cost, on your behalf.
Inventory and Schedule of Condition
An Inventory and Schedule of Condition is essential for the proper conduct of your premises, whether they are let furnished or unfurnished, to reduce the risk of a dispute arising about the Deposit. If you do not have an inventory and Schedule of Condition you will not be able to prove the condition of the premises at the start of the Tenancy and may not be able to obtain compensation from the Tenant either through any Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme or through the County Court. We have no liability for any loss suffered if you do not have a fully comprehensive inventory.
- Upon the Tenants vacation;
- If the other party breaks any important term or condition of this Agreement during a Tenancy where thirty days written notice of the breach has been given by the other party, the breach has not been remedied and monetary compensation is wholly inadequate;
- We may terminate our retainer immediately if you are in major breach of any of the terms contained in this Agreement or if you do or do not do something which makes it impossible, impracticable or illegal to continue providing these services.
We reserve the right to assign our rights or obligations under this Agreement upon giving you 3 months written notice.
Data Protection Act 1998
In order to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 to prevent any unauthorised access to or use of personal data we have the responsibility to keep information confidential and will only use it if fees are not paid and we wish to refer the matter to a debt collector or solicitor; or if we are specifically required to so by law; or to pass it to a government agency by law; when instructing solicitors; or to change account details for utility suppliers and the council tax into or out of your name; or when a contractors invoice has not been settled by you.
"Douglas and Simmons have been very helpful to us; in our case we were buyers and they supported us for a good 3 months while solicitors sorted things out. They were always approachable and happy to talk to us and helped explain what solicitors were doing, which was very useful. They obviously work as a team and if we ever sell our lovely home we will definitely use them."