Domestic abuse webinar for private landlords
We hosted a free webinar from the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance on 24 November 2020. It focussed on domestic abuse in private rented accommodation, including:
- The impact of coronavirus on domestic abuse survivors
- Tips on supporting tenants affected by domestic abuse
- Where to get help and advice if you suspect domestic abuse
- Misconceptions about domestic abuse
- Evictions and domestic abuse
Watch the domestic abuse webinar.
- Domestic abuse webinar presentation slides [PDF, 0.9MB]
- Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance: Domestic abuse guidance for private-rented sector landlords [PDF, 0.3MB]
- Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance: Guidance and resources for the private-rented sector
- Advice for people affected by domestic abuse
Coronavirus webinar for private landlords
We presented a free webinar on 23 September 2020 about how the coronavirus pandemic will affect your rental properties. It focussed on how coronavirus will change the way you manage your properties, including:
- What coronavirus is, and how we can reduce the risk of infection
- Self-isolation rules and how to manage coronavirus in your properties
- Cleaning, repairs and maintenance
- The latest government guidance updates
- Eviction proceedings
- Rent arrears and mortgage payment holidays
Watch the coronavirus webinar
- Coronavirus webinar presentation slides [PDF, 0.4MB]
- Coronavirus webinar frequently asked questions [PDF, 37Kb]
- ‘Stopping coronavirus spreading at home’ poster [PDF, 2MB]
- ‘How do we work together to prevent ourselves getting coronavirus?’ poster [PDF, 0.6MB]
- Cambridge City Council coronavirus information
- Cambridgeshire County Council coronavirus overview
Housing health and safety rating system
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) gives us powers and duties to target properties in the worst condition, which often house some of the most vulnerable people.
There are 29 hazards [PDF, 0.3MB], any of which may be assessed during a Housing Standards inspection, including:
- damp and mold growth – read our condensation advice notes [PDF, 36Kb]
- excess cold
- crowding and space – read an explanation of statutory overcrowding [PDF, 89Kb]
- domestic hygiene, pests and refuse – read recycling information for landlords and managing agents
- personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage
- fire – read LACORS' fire safety guidance [PDF, 1.5MB]
The courses of action available to us where we have a duty or a power to act include:
- serving a hazard awareness notice
- serving an improvement notice requiring remedial works
- making a prohibition order, which closes the whole or part of a dwelling or restricts the number of permitted occupants
- taking emergency action
- making a demolition order
The HHSRS hazard rating is based on the most vulnerable potential occupant. We will be able to take account of the vulnerability of the actual occupant in deciding the best course of action. We retain the power to act in default and prosecute for lack of compliance. We are also able to recover charges for enforcement actions.
Further guidance for landlords and other property-related professionals can be found on the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government website.
In accordance with section 49 of the Housing Act 2004, we will charge for service of certain formal enforcement notices:
- Improvement notice: £344
- Prohibition order: £312
- Emergency remedial action: £292
- Review of suspended notices and orders: £104
- Hazard awareness notice: No charge
The amount charged may be subject to annual review. Please note, in certain circumstances, where it has been necessary to serve multiple notices relating to the same property, this charge applies to each individual notice. The charge(s) will become a local land charge on the property until full costs are recovered by us.
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
As a landlord any accommodation you have tenants in must by law have at least one smoke alarm installed on each storey of the property (excluding mezzanines), and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid-fuel burning appliance such as a coal fire or wood-burning stove.
As a landlord you are obliged to check that these alarms are in working order on the day a new tenancy begins. It is important to remember legislation applies to existing tenancies as well as new ones.
Where we believe that a landlord is in breach of one or more of the above duties, we have a duty to serve a remedial notice on the landlord. The landlord then has 28 days to comply with the requirements of the notice.
If the landlord, then fails to take the remedial action specified in the notice the Council can require a landlord to pay a penalty charge and undertake the works themselves.
Statement of principles for determining financial penalties
This statement sets out the principles that Cambridge City Council (the Council) will follow in determining the amount of penalty charge and when to apply it for a breach of the duty imposed by the above regulations.
A financial penalty charge will be imposed where the Council is satisfied (on the balance of probabilities) that:
- the landlord has failed to comply with the requirements of the regulations
- the Council has served the landlords with a remedial notice
- the landlord has failed to take the remedial action specified in the notice within the time period specified
- the Council has undertaken works in default of the landlord to comply with the requirements of the notice
The Regulations state the amount of the penalty charge must not exceed £5,000. The penalty charge has been set at a level to increase compliance with the regulations and to ensure that the costs related to the investigation and administration of the case and also the costs associated with undertaking formal action (including any remedial action) are covered by the charge.
The charges have been set at a level proportionate to the rental income of the property, this is set at double the monthly local housing rate for the property (subject to the maximum of £5,000). The penalty charge shall be reduced by half where the sum is paid within 14 days.
If a landlord does not agree with the penalty charge they may request that the Council undertake a review of the charge. The request for a review must be made in writing and if the penalty charge is confirmed following the review an appeal exists to the First-Tier Tribunal.
GOV.UK has published a helpful booklet giving landlords and tenants more information on the regulations and their enforcement.
Energy Performance Certificates
As a landlord you are required to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). It must be made available free of charge at the earliest opportunity – for example, when you first provide written information about the property, or when it is viewed – and before any rental agreement is entered into.
The certificate gives information about the energy efficiency of the property such as its:
- Energy performance – from ‘A’ for very efficient properties to ‘G’ for very inefficient properties – based on the building’s age, layout, construction, heating, lighting, and insulation
- Environmental impact rating, based on how much carbon dioxide it releases into the environment
- Potential running costs, based on how long it is heated each day, average fuel prices at the time the EPC was produced, and more.
The certificate also recommends measures that could improve the property’s energy performance. EPCs are valid for 10 years and can be reused within that period.
Minimum energy efficiency standards in privately rented homes
Your privately rented property should have an Energy Performance Certificate rating of at least E before you grant or renew a tenancy there.
This was established in the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015.
From 1 April 2020 you will be required to ensure your domestic property meets this requirement even if there is no change in tenancy arrangement. This change will be applied in April 2023 for non-domestic privately rented properties.
If you cannot achieve an E rating without spending more than £3,500 (including VAT), you can register the property as exempt from the minimum standards. You must first install all the measures you can under the price cap.
Visit Gov.uk to find out more about the minimum energy efficiency standard for domestic private rented properties.
New regulations to help improve safety in private-rented accommodation will come into force on 1 July.
If you are a private landlord, you must have each of your properties inspected and tested every 5 years or less by a competent and qualified person. After each inspection you must obtain a report that lists any necessary work.
The law will apply to all properties with new tenancies from 1 July 2020. It will apply to properties with existing tenancies from 1 April 2021.
The Electrical Installation Condition Report will list any required remedial work or further investigation. You must complete this work within the specified time – usually 28 days.
You must then provide written confirmation that the work is done. You must send this to your tenants and to us within 28 days.
These reports should be sent to us at Residential.firstname.lastname@example.org.
If we have reasonable grounds to believe you are in breach of this duty, we will serve notice on you requiring remedial action.
If you do not comply with the notice, we can arrange the remedial action and recover the costs from you. We can also impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000.
The government’s guide provides more detail about the law and your responsibilities.
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on 1 June 2020.
All privately rented properties must be provided with an annual gas safety certificate. Visit Gas Safe for further information.
Tenancy deposit protection
As a landlord you are obliged to place your tenants deposit in a tenancy deposit protection scheme, to help ensure that any disputes about it are dealt with quickly and cheaply, reducing the need to go to court.
The government has chosen three companies to run the tenancy deposit schemes: the Tenancy Deposit Protection Service, the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, and Tenancy Deposit Solutions.
As a landlord if you do not protect your tenants deposit in this way, you may be taken to court, where you could be ordered to meet their legal requirements and pay compensation.
When tenancy deposit protection schemes don't apply
If your tenants are not on an assured short hold tenancy for example if
- they live in the same property as the landlord or in a student hall of residence, or
- if you they have an assured or regulated tenancy
This means as a landlord if you don’t return the deposit the tenant could take you to court.
Unlawful eviction and harassment
Private tenants are entitled to live peacefully in their home: as a landlord you cannot force them to leave the property unless you have followed the correct legal procedures.
If you threaten your tenant with unlawful eviction, either directly – for example, by changing the locks when you they are out – or through harassment – for example, by stopping the supply of power or water – they are entitled to contact one of our housing enforcement officers.
We will then contact you or your agent and take appropriate action. We may facilitate mediation between you and your tenant, but have powers to prosecute if necessary.
There are many benefits of joining a landlords’ association. Members can access legal advice and support to help them manage their properties responsibly and profitably. Many landlords’ associations run meetings where members can share experiences and good practice.
The Eastern Landlords Association is a membership organisation for landlords. Their small and friendly team of experienced staff have been advising and supporting landlords for more than 25 years.
The National Landlords Association is the UK’s largest association for private-residential landlords. They work with full-time landlords with large property portfolios to those with just a single letting.
Letting agent redress schemes provide a free, independent service for resolving disputes between landlords and tenants. Decisions made by redress schemes are binding on both parties.
The fine level in Cambridge for not being a member of one of the schemes is set at the monthly Local Housing Allowance rate for the property, up to a maximum of £5,000.
Standards for college properties
We have recently agreed a set of amenity and safety standards for accommodation owned or managed by providers of further or higher education. [PDF, 0.2MB]
The purpose of this guidance document is to establish an agreed set of standards between the council and educational establishments, in order to minimise the level of intervention by the council.
The document sets out advisory standards, which are acceptable to the council, to ensure the health and safety and wellbeing of student occupiers.
Certain domestic fire doors should be able to resist fire for up to 30 minutes.
The ongoing investigation into the Grenfell Tower tragedy highlighted that composite flat entrance fire doors manufactured by Manse Masterdor do not meet this standard. Manse Masterdor ceased trading in 2014, so this model of door is no longer being manufactured.
The National Fire Chiefs Council has advised that the risk to public safety remains low. But it recommends that owners of buildings with this type of door should review their fire risk assessments and consider replacing the doors.
The government provides advice for building owners on assurance and replacing of flat entrance fire doors.