Private sector tenants

Problems with private rented property

The Private Sector Housing Team is concerned with improving the general housing stock, especially in the private rented sector. Any action taken by this team will be geared towards removing hazards to the health & safety of the tenant and therefore ensuring that the unit of accommodation is suitable for future occupation.

Although officers have a working knowledge of tenant and landlord responsibilities and the associated law, we cannot and do not offer an advice or intermediary service for contractual and civil disagreements between tenants and landlords.

If you have any questions about rent, tenancy agreements and rights, then you can contact the Housing Advice Team.

The following websites also provide useful advice and information:

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Letting agent and property management redress scheme

Letting agents and property management companies have until 1st October 2014 to register with one of three Government approved redress schemes. These schemes will ensure private rented sector tenants or landlords have a straightforward route to complain about their agents.

The three Government approved schemes are:

Each scheme will have its own rules and processes but some requirements, such as providing relevant information about the redress scheme when signing a tenancy agreement, will be common to all the schemes. If you feel you are not being treated fairly by your letting agent or property manager you will be able to approach their scheme, and your complaints should be addressed quickly and effectively, and you could also receive compensation.

Who does this apply to?

Lettings

  • Any individual or company who in the course of their business responds to instructions from a private rented sector landlord who wants to find a tenant to rent a property under a domestic tenancy (assured or assured shorthold).
  • Any individual or company who in the course of their business responds to instructions from a tenant who wants to find a property to rent under a domestic tenancy (assured or assured shorthold).
  • It does not apply to tied accommodation, student accommodation provided by higher and further education establishments and Registered Social Landlords.

Property Management

  • A person or company who engages in property management work by responding to instructions from another person who wants to arrange services, repairs, maintenance, improvement, insurance or deal with any other aspect of the management of premises.
  • The properties can be let under a long lease (leasehold), and assured tenancy or a protected tenancy.
  • It does not apply to land registered as common hold land, premises which are wholly or mainly for the accommodation of students, Council Housing, Registered Social Landlords (There are other exceptions relating to public bodies).

You can find more information on whether the redress scheme applies to your business on the gov.uk website:

What scheme does my agent belong to?

All applicable organisations or businesses must be registered with a redress scheme by 1 October 2014 but, depending on circumstances, the Councils will consider a grace period of up to 2 months for agents to find and join a suitable scheme. We will over the next few weeks be writing to all agents and property managers asking which scheme they are a member of. When this information is collated we will be publishing it on our website.

In the meantime, you can request this information directly from your letting agent and they should provide you with details of the scheme they belong to and how to contact them if you wish to make a complaint.

You can also read:

Enforcing the scheme

Adur & Worthing Councils are the Enforcement Authority for this new legislation which can be found here:

The Councils will have to be satisfied that on the balance of probabilities that a person or agent has failed to comply with the legal requirement to belong to one of the three Government approved schemes. The Councils can by notice require the person or agent to pay a fine. The maximum penalty fine is £5,000. There is an appeals process available to a person served with a notice to the First-tier Tribunal.

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MEES Regulations - The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015

The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015, ('the MEES Regulations') came into force on the 1st April 2018.

The MEES Regulations set out the minimum level of energy efficiency for private rented property in England and Wales. In relation to the domestic private rented sector (PRS) the minimum level is EPC E.

The minimum level of energy efficiency means that, subject to certain requirements and exemptions:

  • since 1st April 2018, landlords of relevant domestic private rented properties must not grant a tenancy to new or existing tenants if their property has an EPC rating of F or G (as shown on a valid EPC for the property);
  • from 1st April 2020, landlords must not continue letting a relevant domestic property which is already let if that property has an EPC rating F or G (as shown on a valid EPC for the property).

This requirement is referred to as “the prohibition on letting of sub-standard property”.

Where a property is sub-standard, landlords must normally make energy efficiency improvements which raise the EPC rate to minimum E before they let the property. In certain circumstances, landlords may be able to claim an exemption from this prohibition on letting sub-standard property.

The amended Regulations are clear that landlords only need to undertake improvements which can be made either using third-party funding, or for £3,500 (inc. VAT) or less if self-funding. If no improvements can be made under either of these scenarios, the landlord must register an exemption for that property rather than improve it to E. You can set up an account to register a property as exempt on the GOV.UK website.

The Regulations provisions apply to all domestic private rented properties that are:

a) legally required to have an EPC, and

b) are let on a qualifying tenancy type.

Guidance issued by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) notes that an EPC is not required where the landlord (or the seller, if relevant) can demonstrate that the building is any of the following:

  • a building that is officially protected as part of a designated environment or because of their special architectural or historic merit where compliance with certain minimum energy efficiency requirements would unacceptably alter their character or appearance;
  • a building used as places of worship and for religious activities;
  • a temporary building with a planned time of use of two years or less;
  • Industrial sites, workshops, non-residential agricultural buildings with low energy demand and non-residential agricultural buildings which are in use by a sector covered by a national sectorial agreement on energy performance;
  • stand-alone buildings with a total useful floor area of less than 50m² (ie buildings entirely detached from any other building); or
  • HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation, for example these can be bedsits, hostels, shared houses etc) which have not been subject to a sale in the previous ten years, or which have not been let as a single rental in the past ten years.

A building will also not need an EPC where the landlord can demonstrate that it is furnished holiday accommodation as defined by HMRC and the holiday-maker is not responsible for meeting the energy costs.

Under certain circumstances buildings may also be exempt from the requirement to obtain an EPC where it may be demonstrated that they are to be demolished.

Adur & Worthing Councils are the enforcing authority for the MEES Regulations. If we suspect that a landlord may be in breach of the prohibition on letting a sub-standard property, or a landlord has been in breach of the prohibition at any time in the past 12 months, we may serve a compliance notice that requests information from that landlord to help us decide whether that landlord has in fact breached the prohibition.

If there is evidence that a landlord has breached the prohibition, we have the power to impose a financial penalty of up to £4,000.

MEES and HHSRS

Although the MEES Regulations are aimed at improving energy efficiency in the private rented sector, there is an overlap with the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HSSRS) of the Housing Act 2004, which deals poor housing conditions.

Landlords should be aware that properties that are on the exemption register or do not require an EPC and so do not have to comply with the MEES Regulations will be still be subject to the Housing Act 2004 and enforcement powers can be used to require energy efficiency measures where they impact on a hazard as identified in HHSRS.

See also: Housing Health and Safety Rating System

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Overcrowding

Crowding, space and the hazards associated with lack of space within the dwelling for living, sleeping and normal family/household life are covered by the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

The overcrowding standard is not high and is based upon law dated from 1935. More detail can be found on the following webpage:

If, after reading this guidance, you think that your rented property is overcrowded then you can ask for it to be assessed by the Private Sector Housing team.

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Landlords and Tenants: repairing obligations

If you have an assured short hold tenancy the landlord is responsible for certain repairs to the property even if it is not written in the tenancy agreement or you only have a verbal tenancy agreement.

These repairing rights are set out in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, Section 11.

See more about The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 - on the UK Legislation website.

Section 11 states the Landlords' responsibility to keep the property in good repair throughout the tenancy:

The landlord is responsible for maintaining installations:

  • supply of water, including tanks
  • gas (servicing once a year by a Gas safe registered engineer), including pipes
  • electricity, including electrical sockets
  • sanitation, including toilets, baths and sinks
  • space heating and heating water, including radiators and hot water cylinders

The landlord is responsible for the exterior of the property and any structural repairs:

  • Roof
  • Guttering
  • Drains and exterior pipes
  • Exterior walls
  • Windows and doors

See more about landlords responsibilities - on the TAS website.

Notify your landlord

Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 the landlord is not required to carry out repairs until the tenant reports the problem to them.

You can tell your landlord verbally, but we recommend you do it in writing, so you have evidence you have made the landlord aware of the repairs needed.

See more about How to report repairs to a private landlord - on the Shelter website.

My landlord won't do the repairs

If you have informed your landlord in writing about the repairs and you have not received a response contact your landlord again in writing. Keep a record of the repairs needed and what you have done to try and sort it out. Take photographs of what needs repairing.

If you have given your landlord a reasonable amount of time and they are still refusing to do the repairs, contact the Private Sector Housing team for further advice using our form below:

See more about landlords refusing to do repairs - on the Shelter website.

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