Rent Smart Wales
Are you ready for the new changes?
A new law has been introduced in Wales which applies to all landlords and estate agents of private residential property. If you own, rent out, manage and/or live in a rented property then this law will impact you.
- Landlords must now be registered and deemed fit and proper by Rent Smart Wales to be able to rent out their property. They must also provide the address and details of each rental property for which they are the landlord. There is also a fee to pay.
- During registration the landlord must state who undertakes the letting and management at each rental property. It is that person who will need a licence from Rent Smart Wales.
- If a landlord or agent cannot obtain a licence, or due to non-compliance the licence is removed, they are unable to undertake the letting and management of rental properties in Wales.
- If you are a landlord and would like us to manage your property, then please get in touch. As we are Fully Licenced, we can take the financial burden away and offer first rate management over your property.
TDP was introduced in April 2007 as part of the Housing Act 2004 for all assured shorthold tenancies in England and Wales where a deposit was taken. From April 2012 you must protect any deposit you receive within 30 calendar days of receiving it.
There are 2 ways of protecting your Deposit
- Physically placing the funds into a recognised Bond Scheme – 1 month cover
- An Insurance backed protection which requires a relatively small payment – 2 months cover (more on this can be found under “Warranties”
Introducing Tenancy Deposit Protection was identified as a way to raise standards in the lettings industry and ensure tenants are treated fairly at the end of the tenancy.
A deposit is considered ‘received’ from the moment you take the payment, not when the funds have cleared. This applies to all forms of payment, whether it’s a cheque, a bank transfer or cash.
If you fail to comply with your legal obligations, there are two possible sanctions:
You cannot end the tenancy or regain possession of your property under section 21 of the Housing Act 1998 until the deposit has been repaid or a court case has ended.
Your tenant can apply to a County Court to receive compensation between once and three times their deposit’s value if:
they think their deposit is not protected
they’ve not received information about the scheme you protected their deposit with.
If we Fully Manage your property, we will deal with this on your behalf.
An Energy Performance Certificate is required for properties when constructed, sold or let. The Energy Performance Certificate provides details on the energy performance of the property and what you can do to improve it.
By law, under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, it’s your responsibility to get a Gas Safety Certificate every twelve months. You must get this from a Gas Safe Registered engineer for all pipe work, gas appliances and flues installed at your property.
If you use an agent to manage your property, you need to make sure your contract clearly states in black and white whose responsibility it is to carry out maintenance on gas appliances. You must also keep copies of all the paperwork. You’ll need to keep a record of the safety inspection for two years, and give a copy to all of your tenants within 28 days of the inspection. If your tenants change, they’ll need a copy of the Gas Safety Certificate before they move in. If your contract says the agent is responsible, then the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 are passed on to them.
All electrical installations deteriorate with time and should be inspected and tested every 3 to 5 years for continued service. Such safety checks are commonly known as ‘periodic inspection’ or ‘domestic electrical installation condition report’.
An electrical inspection report will:
- Reveal if any of your electrical circuits or equipment are overloaded.
- Find any potential electric shock risks and fire hazards.
- Identify any defective electrical work.
- Highlight any lack of earthing or bonding.
Tests are also carried out on wiring and fixed electrical equipment to check that they are safe. A schedule of circuits is also provided, which is invaluable for a property.
Electrical inspection reports or certificates should be carried out only by an accredited, competent person, such as a registered electrician. They will check the condition of the electrics against the UK standard for the safety of electrical installations, BS 7671 – Requirements for Electrical Installations (IEE Wiring Regulations).
All our engineers are either NICEIC (external link), ELECSA (external link), or NAPIT (external link) registered and are fully qualified to carry out electrical certificates or domestic electrical installation condition reports.
Louvain Properties will only accept Electrical Certificates that have been signed off by a fully qualified and registered engineer. Also, if something should happen, such as an electrical shock, your insurance may not cover you without a valid electrical certificate.
If any dangerous or potentially dangerous condition or conditions are found, the overall condition of the electrical installation will be declared to be ‘unsatisfactory’, meaning that remedial action is required without delay to remove the risks to those in the premises.
(Landlords are under a duty to ensure that the risk of exposure to tenants, residents and visitors by Legionella is properly assessed and controlled.)
For most residential settings the risk assessment may well show the risks are low so long as simple control measures are put in place. This will apply to houses or flats with small domestic type water systems where the water turnover is high. Provided the risk assessment shows that the risks are insignificant and the control measures are being properly managed no further action would be necessary. It is important, however, to keep the assessment under review periodically in case anything changes to the system.
The legal requirement for conducting a legionella risk assessment is defined under the following legislation:
- The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH)
- The bacterium Legionella pneumophilaand related bacteria are common in natural water sources such as rivers, lakes and reservoirs, but usually in low numbers. They will also be found in purpose-built water systems such as cooling towers, evaporative condensers, hot and cold water systems within domestic properties and spa pools.
- Louvain Properties, have their own qualified person to complete the risk assessments on the Landlord’s behalf.
New duty on landlords to inform Welsh Water about tenants
Landlords in Wales and England whose rental properties receive their water and sewage services from Welsh Water will need to provide information about their tenants to the company under new regulations introduced by the Welsh Government.
These changes, which impact on landlords, letting agent or Local Authorities, came into effect on 1 January 2015 and require landlords to inform Welsh Water about tenants in their properties within 21 days of the tenants moving into the property. If this is not done, the landlord can become jointly and severally liable with the tenant for any outstanding water and sewerage charges.
Landlords will need to supply details to Welsh Water, which will include the property address, tenancy start date and title, name and date of birth of all adult residents. This can be done online.
Alternatively, landlords can also register these details on a dedicated website www.landlordtap.co.uk. This is a web portal developed by the water industry. It allows landlords to submit all of their tenancy changes via one system without them needing to notify different water companies about various tenancy changes or without landlords needing to know which water company to contact. The portal has been designed to issue notifications to the relevant water company for action and it will provide the landlord with a confirmation receipt for each notification as proof that they have made the notification within the required timescale.
Welsh Water’s Managing Director of Customer Services, Julia Cherrett said: “We are currently working to ensure landlords are aware of this new duty. We want to make the process as easy as possible for new landlords. Due to the short notice of the new legislation, landlords are being given three month ‘grace period’ by Welsh Water to help them prepare for the legislation and share the necessary details. This means that we will not take any action to enforce the regulations until 31 March 2015.”
When must the information be provided?
The information must be provided within 21 days of the date on which an occupier begins to occupy the premises. For existing occupiers as at 1 January 2015, the information must be provided within 21 days of commencement (so by 21 January 2015). The requirement to provide information extends to changes of occupiers during a tenancy because the requirement is within 21 days of when an occupier begins to occupy.
A failure to provide the information will result in the owner of the property becoming jointly and severally liable for the occupiers water charges. However, where the information is provided within 21 days, the owner will not be liable for any of the water charges.
If the information is provided late (after 21 days), the owners joint and several liability will continue until the information is provided and will only cease from the point of providing the information onwards.
Landlords who use a managing agent should check that the agent is aware of these changes and what procedures are in place to ensure the information of existing tenants is provided to the relevant water authorities before 21 January 2015.
The potential costs to landlord owners are immense for a failure to provide the information. If you take a landlord with 5 properties, the average annual water bill being £434.00 and an average tenancy length of 20 months, it’s easy to see how quickly a large amount could quickly become payable. Using these averages, for just one average tenancy on all properties, the amount the owner could be liable to pay would be £3,616.66.
The information required to be provided by the legislation is exempt from the non-disclosure provisions by section 35 Data Protection Act 1998 so consent is not required. However, the occupier must be notified that the information will be provided before an owner provides the information to the water authority.
Landlords and agents using our application for accommodation and tenancy agreement are already notifying tenants so no further action is required. However, it is worthy of note that if there are adult occupiers not being named on the tenancy agreement (which we would never recommend) or sub-tenants, the owner will need to ensure they have been notified prior to the information being passed to the water authority.
Louvain Properties Ltd are not responsible for