Information for landlords
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, any of which may be assessed during a Housing Standards inspection, including:
- damp and mold growth (this is a frequently encountered problem - condensation advice [PDF])
- excess cold
- crowding and space (explanation of statutory overcrowding [PDF])
- domestic hygiene, pests and refuse (recycling information for landlords and managing agents)
- personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage
- fire - read Lacors' fire safety guidance [PDF, 1.4MB]
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 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: £314
- Prohibition Order: £292
- Emergency Remedial Action: £271
- Review of Suspended Notices & Orders: £97
- 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.
Owners and managers of rented accommodation have a responsibility to ensure that the electrical installation in their properties is regularly inspected and maintained to ensure that it is safe. Visit the Electrical Safety Council's website for handy guides
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 currently set at £945.00
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].
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.