HOMESTAMP CONSORTIUM RELEASE MOBILE APP ‘CHECK BEFORE YOU RENT’
Renting a home in the private sector can have many hazards and pitfalls. Sometimes, making a few basic checks before you move into a property can save you from problems later on in a tenancy. Before you sign an agreement, you should be making sure that the home you are looking at is safe, secure and the right one for you.
The Homestamp Consortium has produced a mobile App –Check Before You Rent – the definitive guide to use when looking to rent property. The app contains three checklists which ask all the important questions including legal requirements, that prospective tenants should be asking landlords when they are considering a rental home.
Check Before You Rent has three sections:
- What you need to know before viewing the property – all the questions to ask before viewing a prospective property
- What to look out for when viewing the property – you can use the app when viewing a potential home to look for hazards or questions you need to ask.
- What you should check before you sign any contracts for the property – a checklist of all the areas you need to consider before you sign any contract.
The App records information for prospective tenants to review findings and decide if they want to rent. If they feel that the property is of concern there is an option to report it to the Local Authority.
Check Before You Rent has been produced in association with WMBUS – a public housing partnership group made up of local authorities and housing providers developing the best use of housing stock across the West Midlands.
The App is available as a free download for both Apple and Android devices.
Check Before You Rent complements the Homestamp publication Read This First – an award winning book which covers in detail all the aspects anyone needs to know when renting property.
Lesley Williams, Chair of the Homestamp Consortium said, “More people than ever are renting property from private landlords. A huge amount of work has gone into producing this App, which we hope will help those people looking to rent property and make sure they ask all the right questions. This is also a valuable resource for landlords, letting agents and other organisations who may find it a useful tool when letting property.
“Questions have been devised by private sector renting housing experts and cover all the legal aspects and requirements that need to be considered when viewing a property”.
“We’d like to thank WMBUS for their support in producing this important App”.
Gary Wright, Sandwell MBC said, “This new App for mobile devices builds on all the information in the Homestamp publication ‘Read This First’ – and allows for people to use the app as they go through the process of looking at renting a property.
“It is really important that people understand all the legal requirements placed on landlords, and all the vital questions that should be asked prior to renting property.”
The App has been launched at the West Midlands Private Landlords and Letting Agents Conference taking place at Banks’s Stadium, Walsall on 2 October 2015.
LEGISLATION UPDATES CONCERNING THE PRIVATE RENTED SECTOR FROM 1 OCTOBER 2015
A number of legislation changes come into force from the 1 October 2015.
On 1 October 2015 a number of provisions in the Deregulation Act 2015 will come into force. These provisions are designed to protect tenants against unfair eviction. From 1 October, where a tenant makes a genuine complaint about the condition of their property that has not been addressed by their landlord, their complaint has been verified by a local authority inspection, and the local authority has served either an improvement notice or a notice of emergency remedial action, a landlord cannot evict that tenant for 6 months. The landlord is also required to ensure that the repairs are completed.
Other changes to evictions
The Deregulation Act 2015 also makes it more straightforward for landlords to evict a tenant where they are allowed to do so. Landlords can face unnecessary costs when going to court to seek possession of their property, where the case is thrown out of court on a technical error in the notice (for example, specifying an incorrect date). We have introduced a new form that landlords must use when they are relying on a ‘no fault’ eviction (a section 21 eviction) which will help to reduce this, and to save time and inconvenience for landlords, helping them to get their property back as soon as possible. This form must be used for tenancies entered into on or after 1 October, and we encourage its use for tenancies entered into before that date as well in order to reduce the capacity for error. The form is contained in The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 No. 1725.
There are some additional new rules, particularly around the information which must be provided to tenants before landlords can serve the new section 21 form. Further information can be found by searching www.gov.uk.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Regulations
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 have been approved by Parliament and will come into force on 1 October 2015. These will require private sector landlords to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their properties, and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire, wood burning stove etc). After that, the landlord must make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.
The regulations aim to reduce the risk of injury or death to tenants caused by fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. An explanatory booklet for local authorities, giving further details and helping to prepare for enforcement, is available HERE .
How to Rent
The ‘How to Rent’ guide is a short, user-friendly booklet that details the key rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. The Model Tenancy Agreement has been produced for the benefit of landlords and tenants and includes clauses that encourage longer, more family friendly tenancies. Further information can be found by searching www.gov.uk.
RIGHT TO RENT SCHEME TO ROLL OUT ACROSS ENGLAND FROM 1 FEBRUARY 2016
The Home Office has announced that from 1 February 2016, the Right to Rent scheme will be extended across England. This means all private landlords in England, including those subletting or taking in lodgers, will have to check new tenants have the right to be in the UK before renting out their property.
The scheme is being extended following an evaluation of the first phase in the West Midlands (across Birmingham and the Black Country) which has been published on GOV.UK, and has received the continued input of a panel of industry experts, housing and homeless charities and local authorities.
Right to Rent is one part of the government’s ongoing reforms to the immigration system to make it harder for people to live in the UK illegally.
What this means for the private rented sector
As of 1 February 2016, anyone who rents out private property in England will need to see and make a copy of evidence that any new adult tenant has the right to rent in the UK (for example a passport or a biometric residence permit).
The process is simple and many organisations in the private rented sector already check the immigration status of tenants.
In most cases, checks can be carried out without contacting the Home Office. However, if a tenant has an outstanding immigration application or appeal with the Home Office, landlords can request a Home Office Right to Rent check. A yes or no answer will be provided within two working days.
Landlords who don’t make the checks could face a civil penalty of up to £3,000 per tenant if they are found to be renting out a property to someone who is in the UK illegally.
The Government is also making it easier for landlords to evict illegal migrants as part of the Immigration Bill.
For more information visit GOV.UK and search for Right to Rent.
Register your details HERE on GOV.UK for updates on the roll out of the scheme.