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Publication - Consultation Paper

Landlord registration: consultation on a review of applications and fees

Published: 15 Mar 2018
Part of:
Housing, Law and order
ISBN:
9781788516846

The consultation invites views on proposals to ask landlords for additional information to demonstrate that they meet their legal responsibilities.

41 page PDF

477.2kB

41 page PDF

477.2kB

Contents
Landlord registration: consultation on a review of applications and fees
Annex C: Information about proposed additional prescribed information

41 page PDF

477.2kB

Annex C: Information about proposed additional prescribed information

Tolerable Standard

The Tolerable Standard is a minimum standard for habitability introduced in the 1969 Housing (Scotland) Act, and updated by the 1987, 2001 and 2006 Acts. The standard has been the principal measure of housing quality in Scotland for almost 40 years. It is a "condemnatory" standard; a house that falls below it is not acceptable as living accommodation. Whilst it is local authorities that have a statutory duty and specific powers to deal with houses that fall below the tolerable standard, private landlords should not be letting houses that do not meet this basic standard.

A dwelling meets the tolerable standard if it:

  • is structurally stable;
  • is substantially free from rising or penetrating damp;
  • has satisfactory provision for lighting, ventilation and heating;
  • has an adequate piped supply of wholesome water available within the house;
  • has a sink provided with a satisfactory supply of both hot and cold water within the house;
  • has a water closet or waterless closet available for the exclusive use of the occupants of the house and suitably located within the house;
  • has a fixed bath or shower and a wash-hand basin, each provided with a satisfactory supply of both hot and cold water and suitably located within the house;
  • has an effective system for the drainage and disposal of foul and surface water;
  • has satisfactory facilities for the cooking of food within the house;
  • has satisfactory access to all external doors and outbuildings;
  • has electrical installations that are adequate and safe to use. The
  • "electrical installation" is the electrical wiring and associated components and fittings, but excludes equipment and appliances;
  • has satisfactory thermal insulation.

Repairing Standard

The Repairing Standard, contained in the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006, covers the legal and contractual obligations of private landlords to ensure that a property meets a minimum physical standard. Landlords also have a duty to repair and maintain their property from the tenancy start date and throughout the tenancy.

A privately rented property must meet the Repairing Standard as follows:

  • the property must be wind and water tight and in all other respects reasonably fit for people to live in.
  • the structure and exterior (including drains, gutters and external pipes) must be in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order.
  • installations for supplying water, gas and electricity and for sanitation, space heating and heating water must 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.
  • any furnishings that the landlord provides under the tenancy must be capable of being used safely for the purpose for which they are designed.
  • the property must have a satisfactory way of detecting fires and for giving warning in the event of a fire or suspected fire.
  • the property must have satisfactory provision for giving warning if carbon monoxide is present in a concentration that is hazardous to health.

The Repairing Standard includes a duty to ensure that homes have smoke and fire detectors. This requires more than one alarm. Current guidance advises that all alarms must be mains wired with battery back-up. Alarms must be interlinked but this can be wireless.

Landlords also have a duty to ensure that homes have carbon monoxide ( CO) detectors. CO alarms must have a battery that lasts the life of the alarm in each room housing a gas appliance (other than those used solely for cooking) and in any living room or bedroom if a flue from these appliances runs through it.

The Repairing Standard also requires landlords to carry out an electrical safety inspection which has two parts, an Electrical Installation Condition Report ( EICR) completed by an approved electrician and a Portable Appliance Test ( PAT) which can be carried out by an approved electrician or a landlord who has completed a relevant training course.

Private landlords should have regard to guidance issued by Scottish Ministers on:

Energy Performance Certificates

The Energy Performance of Buildings (Scotland) Regulations 2008, as amended, place obligations on owners of buildings to provide prospective and new tenants with a domestic Energy Performance Certificate ( EPC) when a property is rented out. EPCs are only required for a 'dwelling', not part of a dwelling. For example, where a lease is for a bedroom and shared access to bathroom and kitchen facilities an EPC would not be required. Any property which has been continuously left empty since before 1 Jan 2009 would not need to have an EPC.

An EPC shows a property's energy efficiency and also highlights potential improvements that could be made to save energy. An EPC has a unique 20 digit reference number and is valid for a period of 10 years. It does not have to be updated during this time. EPCs are lodged on a central database. If a tenant has not been provided with a copy of the certificate, they can search the central register using the postcode for the address. Any concerns relating to the provision or authenticity of the EPC should be raised by the tenant with the relevant local authority.

Property advertisements

Details of the EPC rating must be included in commercial media when advertising the property for rent. Building owners who fail to provide the EPC to the tenant or include the energy rating when advertising the property for rent could be subject to a penalty charge notice (minimum £500) in each case.

The Private Rented Housing (Scotland) Act 2011 requires registered landlords to include the registration number in communications to advertise a property. Where a landlord has applied to be registered, and does not yet have a registration number, the words "landlord registration pending" must be included in the advertisement.

Common repairs and Buildings Insurance

In flats and tenements, landlords share the responsibility with all owners within the building to maintain any part of the building that provides, or is intended to provide, support or shelter to any other part. The repairing standard includes work any part of the building which the tenant is entitled to use which is adversely affected by the disrepair. For more information about rights and responsibilities in relation to common parts see the guidance at

http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Justice/law/17975/CommonRepairCommonSense.

Section 18 of the Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004 imposes an obligation on the owners of flats within a tenement to insure their flats for the reinstatement value. A tenement is a building comprising two or more related flats which are owned or designed to be owned separately and which are divided horizontally. Examples of the type of properties are large houses which have been converted into flats. High rise blocks, "four in a block" and modern blocks of flats will also qualify as tenements, as well as the traditional sandstone or granite buildings of three or four storeys.

The obligation to insure will be met if the insurance cover is provided in whole or in part by a common policy of insurance. This will allow owners to have a combination of common and individual policies of insurance whether or not there was any provision for a common policy in the title deeds.

An owner won't be obliged to insure against a particular risk, if after reasonable efforts, they're unable to obtain insurance or the cost of obtaining that insurance is unreasonably high. The risks which owners should insure against are prescribed in legislation.

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2007/16/contents/made

Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation

Mandatory licensing applies to houses or flats occupied by three or more unrelated people, who share bathroom or kitchen facilities. Houses in Multiple Occupation ( HMOs) must meet physical standards set by the licensing local authority under Part 5 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006.

The owner of an HMO must have a licence from the local authority where the property is situated. Licensing helps ensure that accommodation is safe, well managed and of good quality.

Before granting a licence the local authority must be satisfied that:

  • the owner and any manager of the property is 'fit and proper' to hold a licence
  • the property meets required physical standards
  • the property is suitable for use as an HMO (or could be made so by including conditions in the licence)

HMOs are also covered by fire safety legislation.

The local authority sets the standards required and also sets the fees charged for a licence application. Scottish Ministers have issued guidance to local authorities on the licensing of HMOs at

https://beta.gov.scot/publications/licensing-multiple-occupied-housing-statutory-guidance-for-scottish-local-authorities/

Legionnaires' disease

Landlords have a duty to carry out a risk assessment of hot and cold water systems for Legionnaires' disease. Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002, landlords are responsible for ensuring that the risk of exposure to legionella in rented property is properly assessed and controlled. Part 2 of the HSE guidance published at http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg274.htm

gives information on landlord's duties. You can also get information on legionella from Scottish Water at

http://www.scottishwater.co.uk/business/our-services/scottish-water-scientific/scientific-services/legionella

Mortgage, insurance and taxation

Private landlords should be aware of the impact of letting houses on mortgage and insurance commitments. Landlords should tell their mortgage lender about plans to rent the mortgaged property out. Some lenders have restrictions on who the property can be let to. Some mortgages may have terms and conditions that stop the property from being rented out to anyone. Letting the property without consulting the mortgage provider could lead to a break in contract.

Renting out property may also have an impact on existing buildings and contents insurance. Landlords should talk to their insurers and let them know that they plan to rent out their property. They will give advice on what steps to take regarding:

  • buildings insurance
  • contents insurance
  • property owners liability

For tax purposes, landlords will be treated as running a business if they are letting out one or more properties and so it is important that landlords understand their tax obligations. HM Revenue and Customs have a range of resources to help landlords establish the correct taxable status and what might be allowed as expenses. Further information can be found on the Renting Scotland website at

https://rentingscotland.org/articles/landlords-and-tax

and on the HM Revenue and Customs website at

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/income-tax-when-you-rent-out-a-property-working-out-your-rental-income

Tenancy Deposit Protection

When a landlord rents out a property, a tenancy deposit may be taken from the new tenant before they move in. A deposit is a sum of money which acts as a guarantee against:

  • damage to the property
  • cleaning bills if the property is left in poor condition
  • bills that are left unpaid, like fuel or telephone bills
  • unpaid rent

If any of the above happens, the deposit may be used to cover costs. If there are no issues when the tenant moves out, the deposit should be paid back to them in full.

The amount that can be charged as a deposit cannot be more than two months' rent. For example, if the rent is £500 a month, the landlord cannot ask for more than a £1000 deposit.

Once the tenant has paid the deposit for the property, it must be lodged with one of three approved tenancy deposit scheme providers operating in Scotland within 30 working days of the tenancy starting. Once the deposit has been registered with one of these providers, the following written information must be given to the tenant:

  • the amount of the deposit and the date it was received
  • the date the deposit was paid into the tenancy deposit scheme
  • the address of the property
  • a statement confirming the landlord is registered (or has applied to be registered) with the local council that covers the area where the let property is located
  • the name and contact details of the tenancy deposit scheme provider used
  • the circumstances in which all or part of the deposit may be kept at the end of the tenancy

Further information about tenancy deposit protection can be found on the Scottish Government's website at

https://www.mygov.scot/tenancy-deposits-landlords/


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