Posts with tag: Health and safety

Review of Housing Health and Safety Rating System Needed for PRS, says PayProp

Published On: February 20, 2019 at 9:06 am


Categories: Law News

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A review by the Government of the housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS) is happening at a very pertinent time for the lettings industry, PayProp believes.

Over the last decade, the private rented sector (PRS) has grown rapidly. The UK is in desperate need of housing, but there is still the major issue of sub-standard property. The automated rental payment provider has pointed out that the review has, therefore, made it crucial for the sector to get its house in order now.

What is the HHSRS?

Brought about in 2006, the HHSRS was introduced under the Housing Act 2004. Local authorities have been provided with the means to check health and safety in residential properties. The HHSRS can be used by councils to recover any costs from landlords for repair works or order them to carry out necessary improvements.

Certain hazards can be flagged for attention by an HHSRS assessment. This includes damp, overcrowding and fire risks. These issues are ranked in categories, with a ‘category 1’ hazard representing the most dangerous.

It was in October that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) announced its on-going HHSRS review.

Another factor that is under consideration is the possible need for an updated system. This HHSRS review will determine whether or not to introduce minimum standards for common health and safety problems in rental accommodation.

Sub-standard homes remain an issue in the PRS

In January, the most recent English Housing Survey (EHS) was published. It shows that the PRS has accounted for the highest proportion of non-decent homes, which sits at 25%.

The HHSRS deems a home to be ‘decent’ as long as it conforms to certain criteria, which includes meeting its minimum standard and containing no category 1 hazards.

In 2017, the EHS revealed that 14% of PRS homes had a category 1 hazard. This is down from 31% in 2008.

Neil Cobbold, chief operating officer of PayProp UK, has commented: “With the PRS accounting for the highest proportion of non-decent homes, the review of the HHSRS will be important in determining if criteria need to be tightened in order to reduce the number of sub-standard rental homes.

“It’s pleasing to see that the number of rental homes with serious hazards is declining, but that is another reason why the HHSRS needs updating.

“As newer homes enter the sector and energy efficiency continues to improve, there could be entirely different health and safety issues which now merit closer attention.”

The market has evolved since 2006

PayProp believes that the HHSRS needs to be updated. It is essential for the PRS, due to the significant change that the market has undergone, since the system was originally introduced.

The EHS shows that, in the last decade, the total of PRS households with dependent children has increased by 795,000. Meanwhile, during the same period, the number of private renters aged 35-44 has more than doubled, increasing from 13% to 28%.

Cobbold went on to say: “As well as changing demographics, which have an impact on property standards, the sector has become much larger since 2006, now accounting for around a fifth of all households.

“This means more tenants need protection from rogue landlords with increased opportunities to let sub-standard homes.

“Moreover, the introduction this year of the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 – which will give tenants the opportunity to take legal action against landlords letting hazardous homes – means that a HHSRS which reflects the current market is vital.

“This will help landlords and letting agents to meet their compliance obligations, while offering the required protection for the nation’s renters.”

Tenants Look Set to be Given Powers to Sue Landlords over Property Conditions

Published On: October 30, 2018 at 9:05 am


Categories: Tenant News

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Tenants look set to be given powers to sue their landlords if their property conditions are unfit for human habitation, following a key vote by MPs.

The Homes (Fitness) for Human Habitation Bill had its third reading in the House of Commons on Friday, and was passed without division. The House of Lords will now consider the private member’s bill, which would apply in England and Wales.

The bill, tabled by Karen Buck MP, would give tenants in the private and social rental sectors the powers to take their landlords to court if their property conditions are deemed not fit for human habitation at the start of, and throughout, a tenancy.

Private tenants can currently take action against their landlords if their property is in serious disrepair, but not when the property conditions are unfit.

The proposed legislation would change this, by requiring all tenancy agreements to include an implied covenant stating that landlords must ensure that their properties are inhabitable at the start of, and throughout, the tenancy. Tenants would be able to seek legal redress through the courts, without having to first go through their local councils, if landlords fail to do this.

Under the proposed legislation, negligent landlords would be required to remove hazards or pay compensation to their tenants.

According to Buck, around 750,000 homes in the private rental sector and 250,000 in the social rental sector have category one hazards.

She insists: “Living in a cold, damp or unsafe home is hell. It damages people’s physical and mental well-being. It erodes the income of the poorest households. It impacts on children’s education.

“The most vulnerable tenants are those most at risk of being trapped in sub-standard accommodation and they are often least able to withstand the damage such conditions do.”

The Government has already introduced a range of powers for local authorities, which enable them to crack down on rogue landlords that let unsafe or substandard rental housing.

This includes being able to fine landlords up to £30,000 and allowing councils to issue banning orders to the worst offenders.

Last week, MPs also discussed making it a legal requirement for lenders to take tenants’ rent payment history into account when assessing their credit scores.

Government to Review Safety Standards of Rental Housing

Published On: October 29, 2018 at 11:02 am


Categories: Law News

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Industry bodies are welcoming the news that the Government will review the safety standards expected of rental housing.

The Housing, Health and Safety Ratings System (HHSRS) is used by local authorities to assess the health and safety of residential properties, including both private rental and social rental housing.

The Policy Director of the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), David Smith, says: “We welcome the Government’s decision to review the safety standards around rented housing, which the RLA has long called for. The current system has not been updated for 12 years, with the guidance alongside it equally out of date.

“This review provides an important opportunity to improve enforcement against the minority of landlords who bring the sector into disrepute and fail to provide the safe accommodation they should.”

David Cox, the Chief Executive of ARLA Propertymark (the Association of Residential Letting Agents), also responds: “It’s excellent news that the Government will review the existing HHSRS, which we have long said is too complicated, and poorly understood by tenants, landlords, agents and enforcement officers.

“We need to create a practical system with criteria which are easy to use, and fully support the recommendation in the Rugg review for a property MOT, which will ensure that a home meets a minimum set of requirements and that the landlord understands what is expected of them.”

The RLA has also spoken out today about its support of NatWest’s announcement to review the issue of landlords being prevented from letting to benefit claimants.

We wait to hear from the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, of any developments to buy-to-let and housing in his highly awaited Autumn Budget announcement today. We will be covering all of the industry experts’ opinions and reactions to the statement throughout the rest of the week.

Stay tuned to Landlord News for your daily property updates.

Gas Safety Week May be Coming to an End, but it Still Matters

Published On: September 22, 2017 at 8:13 am


Categories: Landlord News

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Gas Safety Week May be Coming to an End, but it Still Matters

Gas Safety Week May be Coming to an End, but it Still Matters

This weekend may mark the end of 2017’s Gas Safety Week, but landlords must remember that gas safety still matters going forward.

Earlier this week, when Gas Safe Register’s Gas Safety Week 2017 began, we reminded all landlords of their legal obligations regarding gas safety, to ensure that you keep your tenants safe when they’re living in your properties.

Although gas safety is important all year round, Gas Safety Week is the perfect opportunity to raise awareness amongst homeowners, landlords and tenants of their responsibilities concerning gas safety.

Our partner Just Landlords has also highlighted this week how costly failing to comply with your legal duties can be – watch out!

To help all landlords keep their properties gas safe and protect their tenants’ health and safety, we have created a comprehensive guide to your responsibilities. Read it for free here: /landlords-guide-gas-safety/

Although Gas Safety Week comes to a close on Sunday, we are calling on all landlords to stick to the law and comply with all of the regulations regarding gas safety.

The Chief Executive of ARLA Propertymark (the Association of Residential Letting Agents), David Cox, reiterates the organisation’s support for gas safety awareness: “As Gas Safety Week draws to a close, ARLA Propertymark highlights the campaign and the importance of gas safety. Agents and landlords are legally responsible for the safety of their tenants, so it’s important they ensure that maintenance and annual safety checks on gas appliances are carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer. In the last three years, there have been 22 deaths and nearly 1,000 gas-related injuries, and Gas Safety Week gives us an opportunity to reiterate the need for better safety measures in rental properties.

“Providing a Gas Safety Certificate to tenants is already a legal requirement for landlords, and provides peace of mind for tenants that the property and its appliances are safe. Renters shouldn’t be afraid to demand this document if they aren’t given it at the start of an agreement. It’s now time for the Government to make best practice legal, and enforce compulsory carbon monoxide alarms in every rented property. At the moment, they only need to be in rooms with solid fuel burning, but we should be doing all we can to protect tenants.”

Don’t forget to keep up with your gas safety requirements when Gas Safety Week finishes for another year!

Help us Fight for a Gas Safe Nation this Week

Published On: September 18, 2017 at 8:08 am


Categories: Landlord News

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Landlord News is proud to be working with Gas Safe Register to promote Gas Safety Week 2017, which starts today, to help fight for a gas safe nation.

Gas Safety Week is an annual safety week to raise awareness of gas safety and the importance of taking care of your gas appliances. It is co-ordinated by Gas Safe Register – the official list of gas engineers who are legally allowed to work on gas.

Landlords must understand that badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. Every year, thousands of people across the UK are diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning. It is a highly poisonous gas that can kill quickly, with no warning.

Landlords are legally responsible for the safety of their tenants. For this reason, you must make sure that a Gas Safe registered engineer conducts maintenance and annual safety checks on gas appliances in your rental properties.

Alongside Gas Safe Register, we have created a comprehensive and free guide to gas safety for landlords, explaining all of your obligations: /landlords-guide-gas-safety/

Help us Fight for a Gas Safe Nation this Week

Help us Fight for a Gas Safe Nation this Week

As it’s Gas Safety Week, here is a short summary of your legal duties as a landlord:

  • Pipe-work, appliances and flues provided for tenants must be maintained in a safe condition.
  • All appliances and flues provided for tenants’ use must have an annual safety check. It is important to set a reminder so that you don’t forget to arrange this.
  • An engineer registered with Gas Safe Register must carry out maintenance and annual safety checks.
  • All gas equipment (including any appliances left by a previous tenant) must be safe or otherwise removed before re-letting.
  • You must provide your tenant with a Gas Safety Record within 28 days of completing the check, or to any new tenant before they move in.
  • You must keep a copy of the Gas Safety Record for two years.

Before any gas work is undertaken, always check the engineer’s UD card and make sure that they are qualified for the work you need doing. You should also encourage your tenants to do the same.

Help us fight for a gas safe nation this Gas Safety Week by keeping on top of your responsibilities!

Substantial Fire Risks Uncovered at Blocks of Flats Across the UK

Published On: August 9, 2017 at 8:07 am


Categories: Property News

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Substantial fire risks that pose a threat to tenants’ lives have been uncovered at blocks of flats across the UK, as fire safety provisions face growing public scrutiny in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Substantial Fire Risks Uncovered at Blocks of Flats Across the UK

Substantial Fire Risks Uncovered at Blocks of Flats Across the UK

Failings were identified at the tower blocks between 2012 and 2017, including no fire doors and faulty smoke alarms.

Hundreds of other high-rise blocks were also found to have major safety flaws, according to analysis of fire risk assessments by Inside Housing magazine.

It comes after so-called flammable cladding fitted to Grenfell Tower raised serious concerns surrounding fire safety provisions in the wake of the tragedy.

It was widely speculated that materials installed during a 2016 refurbishment aided the rapid and “unprecedented” spread of the blaze that killed at least 80 people.

The disaster has renewed public focus on the state of Britain’s housing supply, particularly social homes, and whether building regulations are stringent enough to guarantee the safety of tenants in high-rise blocks of flats.

Some of the tower blocks found to pose substantial fire risks were located in Southampton, Camden, Guildford, Wigan, Stockport and Hatfield.

It comes as the Government announced an independent review of building regulations and fire safety, which experts said was “long overdue”.

In addition, more than 100 buildings have failed combustibility testing ordered by a Government fire safety panel in the wake of the disaster.

Positively, however, it appears that landlords are doing more to ensure the health and safety of their tenants following the dreadful fire. More than half of landlords have said they are taking action on fire safety in their rental properties.

We have put together a comprehensive guide that explains all of your fire safety responsibilities to protect your tenants and property: /guide-fire-safety-rental-property/

While you must prevent substantial fire risks in your properties, it is also important that you protect the buildings and contents of your investments. Choose Landlord Insurance from Just Landlords to ensure that you receive the widest cover available as standard: