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Landlords and the law                                                                                                  August Newsletter                                                                                                                         

If you’re a landlord you will already be aware that certain local authorities have introduced selective licensing in various parts of the country. This is so unscrupulous landlords can’t offer properties to let that are sub-standard or unsafe. To make sure landlords comply with certain aspects of electrical safety all portable appliances that are offered as part of the rental must be inspected and tested every year to prove they’re safe for ongoing use. In addition to this the electrical installation within the let property must be inspected and tested at least every 5 years.

When arranging for this important inspection make sure you choose a fully approved electrical contractor, most local authorities and insurance  companies will not be satisfied with a registered  domestic installer carrying out this vital inspection process. Registered domestic installers are able to certify installation work under Part P of the building regulations but are not assessed to carry out electrical inspections. As such you could find that your electrical inspection report is rejected by your local authority and you may be forced to pay again.  

ElectriciansOnCall are fully approved by NICEIC and as such are capable of providing you with this important service.


 Fire protection

Landlords have a responsibility for fire protection. They must make sure on the first day of the tenancy that adequate smoke detectors are installed and  working. Although the basic requirement is for battery operated detectors most landlords will opt for a mains powered system with a battery back up. This type of system is much more reliable and there is much less risk that the detectors will fail due to   battery expiry or be removed due to nuisance alarms. Modern mains powered systems have interlinked detectors making sure that if one detector signals a fire all detectors in the system sound together, thus giving adequate warning for tenants to escape. Although this type of system is more expensive than the basic battery type most landlords agree that it is worth the extra cost involved for peace of mind, for them and their tenants. However, if the property falls within a selective licencing area a mains powered system is the minimum accepted requirement. These systems need to be installed by a professional and maintained regularly. In addition to the risk of fire, if the let property has a solid fuel appliance (Log burner etc), the landlord must also make sure a CO2 detector is installed as part of the interlinked system.

ElectriciansOnCall have been advising landlords and installing these systems for over 20 years and can offer sound, up to date advice for any property.


 

Landlord prosecuted for ignoring selective licensing requirements                            

Thanet District Council has prosecuted a Dartford based landlord for breaching the selective licence of his Cliftonville property.

Selective licensing was introduced by the Council in 2011 to parts of Cliftonville and Margate. All privately rented properties in the designated area must be licensed with the Council, unless subject to exemption. This is part of the Council’s wider regeneration activity in Margate, and the scheme requires landlords to meet a range of conditions to help safeguard tenants through good property management.

Andrew Bellringer of Tilmans Mead, Farningham, Dartford, failed to provide a copy of an Electrical Installation Condition Report in respect of 5 Julian Court, 1-3 Edgar Road, Cliftonville, Margate. It is a requirement of selective licensing that all licence holders check the electrical safety of their rental properties at least once every five years.

 

The case was heard at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court on 24 July, where Andrew Bellringer pleaded not guilty to a charge of failing to comply with a condition of his licence. However, the Magistrates found Mr. Bellringer guilty and fined him £500 for the offence. He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £50 and contribute £300 towards the Council’s prosecution costs.

Cllr. Lin Fairbrass, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community Services said:

“Selective licensing requires landlords to manage their properties responsibly. This particular landlord chose not to take his management responsibilities seriously and failed, despite repeated Council requests, to provide the evidence that he had checked the property for electrical safety.

“Defective electrical installations increase the risk of  electric shock and fire, which can cause serious injury and death. This is why we are currently ensuring that all licence holders provide the electrical and gas safety certificates required by the conditions of their licence. Licence holders who choose to ignore their responsibilities will be prosecuted.”