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Stockton Rental Standard

Introduction

Stockton-On-Tees Borough Council has a clear vision for the private rented housing sector in the Borough - for all private rented properties to be of a high quality and be consistently well managed.

We know the majority of landlords are good landlords and that they are already meeting the standards set. However, there are a few who are either not aware of the requirements or have no intention of raising their property and management standards. The purpose of the Stockton Rental Standard is to provide a quick and easy guide detailing what is expected of all private sector landlords operating within the Borough, whilst helping to ensure privately rented properties are of a consistently high quality.

Additional regulations apply to Houses in Multiple Occupation and for further information on these landlords are advised to call the Private Sector Housing Team on 01642 527797.

Throughout this document where a reference is made to a "landlord"it includes their agents or representatives.

How to use the Stockton Rental Standard

The Stockton Rental Standard covers both property and management standards.

The use of the word 'must' indicates a legal requirement while the word 'should' indicates best practice. Where a landlord 'should' do something and has not, they will need to justify their reasons for not doing it.

 

 

Property standards

1. Landlords must ensure that their properties provide a safe and healthy environment for any potential occupier visitor. This includes,but is not limited to ensuring that the property is:

  • free from damp and has adequate natural or mechanical ventilation where necessary to control moisture levels.
  • provided with adequate thermal insulation and a suitable and effective means of space heating so that the dwelling space can be economically maintained at a reasonable temperature.
  • free from Category 1 hazards with all other hazards managed to an acceptable risk level and that the property provides a safe and secure home for tenants

2. Landlords must ensure that all rental properties have at least one working smoke alarm installed on every storey of their rental property. They also must have a carbon monoxide alarm in any room where a solid fuel burning appliance is used and must ensure that the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.

3. Landlords must ensure that the electrical installation is safe and that adequate checks are undertaken on each property (best practice would include obtaining an electrical safety certificate).

4. Landlords must ensure any furnished properties comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.

5. Landlords should ensure all properties are provided in a clean decorative condition at the start of each tenancy.

6. Landlords should ensure that all gardens are in a clean and tidy state at the start of each tenancy.

     

    Management standards

    7. Landlords must comply with all relevant housing legislation and regulations, including but not limited to the following:

    • an annual gas safety inspection must be carried out in properties with gas installations
    • the property must have an Energy Performance Certificate; the rating should be "E" or better
    • where the tenancy is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) any deposits taken must be protected under a Government approved scheme.
    • correct legal procedures for possession must be followed in all cases

    8. Tenants should be provided with a written tenancy agreement at the start of a new tenancy and in any event must be provided with a copy of the Government Guide: How to rent; the checklist for renting in England. Here is a model tenancy agreement for your information.

    9. Landlords must check all tenants' right to rent.

    10. Landlords must respond to any reported repairs in a timely and professional manner.

    11. Landlords must give at least 24 hours written notice for access in all cases except where access is required in a genuine emergency.

    12. Landlords should try to minimise void periods or when this is unavoidable are encouraged to contact the Private Sector Housing's Empty Homes Team on 01642 527797 for advice and assistance.

    13. Landlords should always act in a fair, reasonable and professional manner in their dealings with tenants. Landlords must not discriminate because of colour, ethnicity, disability, age, sex, or sexuality.

    14. Landlords are encouraged to work in partnership with the Council and its partners (including for example the Police, Fire Brigade and UK Border Agency) on initiatives to ensure that properties and/ or tenants do not cause a nuisance to neighbours and the local community. This includes:

    • joining our free landlord accreditation scheme (LAS)
    • joining Private Landlords Supporting Stockton (PLuSS)
    • utilising the Council's free tenant referencing service (provided through the Landlord Liaison Scheme) before letting a property
    • working with us to address incidents of any illegal/criminal and anti-social behaviour, associated with your tenant/s and or property
    • working with the Council on future private sector improvement initiatives
    • seeking support from the Private Sector Housing Team if you have any queries about your obligations as a private landlord

    Finally, landlords are reminded that safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults is everyone's responsibility. Should you ever have any concerns regarding the health or well-being of a child please contact the Children's Hub on 01429 284284 or email: childrenshub@hartlepool.gcsx.gov.uk. And for any concerns regarding a vulnerable adult please contact the Council's First Contact Team on 01642 527764 or email: privatesectorhousing@stockton.gov.uk for advice and support.

    Guidance

    In September 2014 the Government published the RICS Private Rented Sector Code. This cross-industry code is intended to promote best practice in the letting and management of private rented sector housing in England which landlords should familiarise themselves with. 

    Landlords are particularly encouraged to review the Landlords Checklist on page 25 of the Code of Practice.

    Additionally in September 2014 the Government published a model tenancy agreement for use in the private rented sector where a shorthold tenancy is being entered into. 

    Guidance on property standards

    Complying with statutory responsibilities

    All landlords must comply with their statutory responsibilities by ensuring their properties provide a safe and healthy environment for all occupants and visitors. Any landlord who fails to address any identified defects may be open to enforcement action.

    Guidance is available in the housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS): guidance for landlords and property-related professionals' booklet

    Fire safety risk assessments

    A full fire risk assessment will help to ensure that landlords are complying with their statutory obligations and should be conducted on each property taking into consideration the occupants. Further information is available on the National Residential Landlord's Association website

    Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015

    In addition to conducting fire safety risk assessments landlords must comply with the above regulations. An explanatory booklet can be found on the government website.

    Electrical installations

    Landlords must ensure that all electrical installations and appliances provided are maintained in a safe condition with an adequate number of sockets to prevent overloading. This can be verified by obtaining an Electrical Safety Certificate from a competent electrician who is a member of a nationally recognised body (i.e. NICEIC). The report may specify how often the installation must be re-inspected which must be followed. To meet the Stockton Rental Standard this should be at least every five years.

    Furniture and furnishings

    All furniture and furnishings supplied must carry a manufacturers label provided at the point of sale, which must be non-detachable. Landlords should keep all receipts to be able to prove that the furniture is compliant (for example if the non-detachable labels get ripped off/detached). Further information is available in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.

    Guidance on management standards

    Right to Rent

    Landlords must check that all tenants or lodgers can legally rent residential property in England. Before the start of a new tenancy, landlords must make checks for all tenants aged 18 and over, even if they are not named on the tenancy agreement, of there is no tenancy agreement or the tenancy agreement isn't in writing. Further information can be found by visiting www.gov.uk and entering Right to Rent in the search box.

    Gas Safety

    The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 deal with landlords duties to make sure gas appliances, fittings and flues provided for tenants are safe. Gas Safety checks must be completed annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer and any advice notices must be complied with. A copy of the certificate must be provided to the occupants and the landlord must retain their copy for a period of two years. Landlords can find a Gas Safe Registered engineer through the Gas Safe website.

    Energy Performance Certificates (EPC's)

    Energy Performance Certificates (EPC's) are valid for ten years and must be made available to perspective tenants when marketing a property. As EPC's are transferable recently purchased properties may already have one in place.

    Landlords can use the EPC register to check if a property has a current EPC or to find a Domestic Energy Assessor.

    Landlords can receive a fixed penalty of £200 per dwelling for not having a current EPC when required.

    Deposits

    Where a tenancy is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), landlords must protect any deposit received in a Government approved Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme and the prescribed information given to the tenant within 30 days of receipt. Failure to do so could result in landlords being ordered by the courts to pay up to 3 times the deposit amount to the tenants and being restricted from using a Section 21 notice for possession.

    Emergency repairs

    Repair response times will vary dependent on a number of factors but any emergency repairs (repairs required to avoid imminent danger to health, risk to the safety of the occupants or serious damage to the building or internal contents) should be addressed within 24 hours of report of the defect. An example of an emergency repair is an interruption to the supply of water or heating.

    Non-emergency repairs, outside of issues to be addressed as part of ongoing maintenance, should be addressed within a reasonable time period, usually between one and four weeks.

    Tenancy agreements

    Tenants must be supplied with a point of contact in case of emergencies as part of a written tenancy agreement. Landlords should also provide a written inventory at the start each new tenancy.

    Ending a tenancy

    Landlords are advised to act with diligence and caution to protect themselves against accusations of harassment or illegal eviction. In all cases the correct legal procedure to acquire possession must be followed. Landlords should seek legal advice if in any doubt.

    Landlord Accreditation Scheme

    All landlords operating in the Borough are encouraged to join our free voluntary scheme. We will actively support landlords to gain accreditation status and offer support and advice on queries related to the private rented sector and landlord/tenant matters.

    For further information, visit our accreditation for landlords page.

    Tenant referencing

    Landlords should conduct tenant referencing on all prospective tenants to help protect themselves, their property and neighbours of the rental property.

    Rental standard contacts