Landlords – The importance of having an annual gas safety check on your tenanted property.

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This blog focuses on the importance of having an up to date annual landlord’s gas safety check on your property.   The law requires this to be done annually whilst you have a tenancy in place.

If it is not done and you allow the certificate to expire then you are putting lives at risk and breaking the law. HSE gives gas safety a high priority and will take the appropriate action to ensure compliance with the regulations; this could result in a substantial fine and/or a custodial sentence.

It really is that serious.

If you let a property equipped with gas appliances, you have three main responsibilities:

  1. Maintenance: pipework, appliances and chimney/flues need to be maintained safely. Gas appliances should be serviced in accordance with the frequency given in the manufacturer’s instructions. If these are not available, you should ask a Gas Safe registered engineer to service them annually.
  2. Gas safety checks: An annual gas safety check should be carried out on each gas appliance/flue. This will ensure gas appliances and fittings are safe to use. There is a legal requirement on you to have all gas appliances safety checked by a registered engineer annually and you also need to maintain gas pipework and flues in a safe condition. This is UK law.
  3. Record: A record of the annual gas safety check should be provided to your existing tenants within 28 days of completion, or to new tenants upon the start of their tenancy. If the rental period is less than 28 days at a time you may display a copy of the record in a prominent position within the dwelling. You’ll need to keep copies of the record for at least 2 years.

Some landlord/tenant relationships can become problematic, and tenants may refuse to give you access to the property. If this is the case, you should have a previously drawn up agreement with the tenant allowing you access to the property to ensure any maintenance or safety work is carried out. You’ll have to take (and demonstrate that you have taken) all ‘reasonable steps’ to ensure the work is carried out – this can involve giving a tenant notice. If a tenant does refuse access, be sure to keep a record of any action taken as you may need this at a later date. The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations do not give powers to ‘force disconnection’ of the gas supply in these circumstances and you may need to seek legal advice.

I once again stress that if you are a landlord and you wish to carry out your own landlords gas safety check then please make sure that it has been done before the expiry of the latest one.  There is no “cooling off period”.   It is also your responsibility to evidence that you have tried all possible ways of getting access to the property if the expiry date passes and there is a gap between the checks.

Should you wish Crucible to take over the management of your gas safety checks then please contact Dawn Watts (Property Manager) who would be more than happy to undertake this for you.

d.watts@cruciblesalesandlettings.co.uk – 01709 300333

dawn-watts

Job Vacancy – Lettings Manager

Due to our continued growth we have an exciting position available within our lettings department

Lettings Manager

40 hours per week

Salary £20,000 – £25,000 dependent on experience + benefits

To develop and grow the lettings business through a well-motivated team, give effective leadership and be accountable for results and people, whilst complying with Crucible Sales & Letting’s procedures and policies at all times

Key responsibilities include:
  • To maximise the overall income and profitability of both the Sheffield and Rotherham branches and achieve budgeted income, profit and other targets set by Head Office.
  • Demonstrate the standards required from reporting staff through personal performance and results.
  • Provide on-going coaching, training and development of team.
  • View and take on all property instructions from landlords. Maintain and run an effective follow up system for withdrawn instructions, lost instructions and Market Appraisal’s that have not been instructed.
  • Ensure all offers and conditions are communicated immediately to the landlord.
  • Ensure that terms agreed at the commencement of a tenancy are put in writing to the landlord and applicant.
  • Maintain regular contact with instructing landlords with activity report.
  • Brief staff immediately of any changes in landlord’s instructions.
  • Maintain and update an efficient record of all applicant enquiries through our software system (Jupix)
  • Implement and maintain an advertising / canvassing programme, to be regularly appraised and updated.
  • Ensure on-going and regular liaison with sales staff over potential clients / instructions
  • Communicate regularly with the Property Management Department to ensure issues/problems are dealt with swiftly and effectively providing the highest level of service for our clients.
  • Holding effective daily and more formal weekly team meetings, to include the update of the applicant and landlord registers.
  • Effectively manage the office diary to ensure appropriate cover in branch at all times.
  • Ensure staff compliance with all company administrative procedures and effect additional work systems where necessary.
  • At all times to project a smart, friendly, polite and professional image providing the highest standard of customer care in order to secure recommendations and further business for the Company.
  • To demonstrate by practice a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the Fees and Terms of Business, Tenancy Agreement and associated legislation.
  • To ensure that no tenancy commences without cleared funds and a gas safety record in place and all relevant compliance standards are met.
  • To ensure office banking procedures are adhered to by staff.
  • To ensure that all complaints are dealt with under the Company Complaints Procedure.
  • To ensure that the office and desks are kept clean, tidy and that the overall presentation of the office is maintained to reflect the professional image and profile of the company.
  • To maintain a high standard of written presentation within the office and ensure all promotional material is accurate and consistent with the company image, the Estate Agents Act and the Property Misdescriptions Act (i.e. correspondence, window cards, boards, property particulars, lettings lists, office displays).
  • To ensure that staff are always punctual and that their personal presentation, standard of dress and telephone manner are in accord with the Company’s professional standards
  • Ensure, by at least monthly inspection, that staff cars are kept clean and tidy inside and out, and are maintained in accordance with the Company Car Policy.
  • To maintain an accurate Attendance Diary for holidays and sickness, and arrange cover when staff are on leave or absent.
  • To ensure the proper running of the office at all times.
  • To maintain a Saturday roster and ensure staff are present.
  • To attend and ensure staff attendance of any formal training sessions.
  • To ensure that all office equipment is maintained in good working order.
  • Process landlord payments, contractor payments and tenant refunds in the absence of the Lettings Operations Manager.
  • Ensure that all invoices have been correctly input onto our software system (Jupix).
  • Provide a daily report to the Lettings Operations Manager regarding any queries as requested.
  • Any other duties as directed by the Lettings Operations Manager.
PERSON SPECIFICATION   

Essential

Qualifications    – Grade A – C in G.C.S.E Mathematics & English or equivalent

Experience      

Management experience across a broad range of functions with a successful record of high quality customer care

Successful record of staff management, support and team development

Multi skilled with a track record of achieving objectives and meeting targets

Writing and presenting reports

Knowledge of Health and Safety regulations

A demonstrable record of adding value to the organisation

At least 12 months experience of working in a busy lettings environment

Knowledge      

Ability to understand and improve business systems and support processes

Ability to interpret and apply the legislative and regulatory requirements within a letting agency and to implement systems that ensure these are met

Sound knowledge of housing  legislation, regulation, policies and procedures

Skills    

Evidence of Leadership skills within a working environment

Skilled in organising and prioritising work to deliver against deadlines, often under pressure

Performance management skills  – setting, monitoring and reviewing goals and objectives

Clear ability to analyse and interpret data/information and produce performance and other reports

IT literate and track record of developing internal business systems

Sound working knowledge of MS Office applications and social media in a business environment

Qualities      

Stamina, drive and resilience and a track record of delivering performance improvement

Flexible and adaptable with a positive “can do” attitude and a focus on getting things done

A highly motivated self-starter taking responsibility for own and team training and development

Commitment to Crucible Sales and letting’s values

Appetite and ability to deliver a wide and varied workload in the context of a small business operating environment

To apply

Please email Ben Johnson – b.johnson@cruciblesalesandlettings.co.uk for an application form.
Please note – CV’s won’t be considered. 

 

Guidance for landlords

Alex Cook, Partner at Helix Law, describes how the court gives guidance to help landlords avoid inadvertently accepting surrender of a lease in his guest blog for us below.

 

A landlord wishing to avoid allegations that its conduct inadvertently amounts to accepting surrender of a lease should ensure it has records showing why, for example, it is accepting the return of keys and on what terms, and should respond to letters and record phone calls to make its position clear, a court has ruled.

 

A company had acted as guarantor for a tenant under a lease. When the tenant went into administration the landlord argued that the tenant’s guarantor had to take over the lease instead. The guarantor argued that the tenant had surrendered its lease automatically by ‘operation of law’, and the landlord had, by its conduct, accepted the surrender. If there had been a surrender, the guarantor had no obligation to take over the lease.

 

There is a surrender by operation of law if there is unequivocal conduct by both landlord and tenant which is inconsistent with continuation of the relevant lease, and which evidences an intention by the landlord to take back possession of the premises.

 

The circumstances were that the administrators had, after vacating the property, sent the keys to the landlord and offered to surrender the lease. The landlord took receipt of the keys (but without responding to the letter enclosing them), changed the locks to secure the property, and marketed it. While doing so, it entered into several phone calls about a possible surrender, although these had not been adequately recorded.

 

The High Court found that, looking at the landlord’s behaviour as a whole, it had not accepted the surrender. It had merely been protecting its interest in the property, and had told the administrators what it was doing. The lease therefore continued and the guarantor had to take it on under the terms of its guarantee, and pay compensation.

 

Helix Law are a specialist litigation firm based in the South East who act for landlords nationwide, also offering a free landlord advice line for landlords who instruct Crucible Sales and Lettings. More information on Helix Law can be found here (www.helix-law.com) together with further blogs regarding property law, landlord & tenant and employment issues which can all be accessed free of charge here (www.helix-law.com/blog). Alex, or any member of the Helix Law team, can be contacted on 01273 761990 or via email to ac@helix-law.com.

 

Recommendation

 

  • Any landlord wishing to avoid allegations that its conduct may amount to acceptance of the surrender of a lease should ensure it has records showing, for example, why it is accepting the return of keys and on what terms, and should respond to letters and record phone calls to make its position clear.

 

Case ref: Padwick Properties Limited v Punj Lloyd Limited [2016] EWHC 502

Landlord licensing scheme

Have you heard about the new landlord licensing scheme?

In an attempt to cleanse the community of rogue landlords the government has implemented a new landlord licensing scheme, which means that landlords who operate in certain areas will need the license to ensure they remain legally compliant.

In Rotherham the designated areas are Eastwood, Masbrough, Dinnington and Maltby South East and came into force on the 1st May this year. Landlords who have properties in these areas will now have to have a five-year license, costing up to £625. However, there is a discount of up to £100 if landlords are accredited, the property has been assessed independently against the Housing Health and Safety Rating system in the last 6 months, and is shown to be free of Category 1 hazards.

The penalties for not obtaining a license can also be pretty steep. In an area subject to selective licensing, all private landlords must obtain a licence and if they fail to do so, or fail to achieve acceptable management standards, the authority can take enforcement action, e.g. issuing a fine of up to £20,000 or in some cases, assuming management control of the property.

According to the council the license will benefit tenants and the wider community in the following ways:

• Reduce the turnover of occupiers in domestic properties
• Ensure private landlords are managing and maintaining the property
• Reduce crime and anti-social behaviour
• Make sure minimum standards for rented housing are met.
• Reduce the number of empty properties

How will it benefit Landlords?
• Selective licensing will create a clear set of rules that all landlords must follow.
• Landlords will also have to give and ask for references for their tenants, hopefully ensuring that the tenants they choose will pay the rent and look after their property.

Let us know your thoughts. Do you feel this is a fair way to monitor landlords and ensure they are looking after their tenants and property?