Landlords' Conference 2018
Erewash Borough Council held its annual Landlords’ Conference Wednesday, 19 September 2018. The annual event was well attended and raised the knowledge of landlords, letting agents and those involved in the private rented sector. These topics discussed included
- Housing Benefit Updates,
- Current themes in the Private Rented Sector including the impact of the Housing and Planning Act 2016
The Housing Act 2004 introduced a way of assessing hazards in the home called the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). This replaced the old ‘fitness standard’ under the Housing Act 1985. It provides a method which enables risks from hazards to health and safety in dwellings to be removed or minimised.
The principle behind the system is that a dwelling, any associated outbuildings and outdoor amenity space should provide a safe and healthy environment for the occupants and any visitors to the dwelling.
The dwelling should be free from hazards or when they are unavoidable, they should be made as safe as is reasonably practicable. The HHSRS applies to both single dwellings and Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).
The HHSRS assesses 29 categories of housing hazard including those which were not covered or were inadequately covered by the old housing ‘fitness standard’.
The property is inspected and any defects and deficiencies which may pose a hazard are noted. A score for each hazard is then calculated.The score depends on the severity of the hazard and its potential to cause injury to a person who is most vulnerable to that hazard. For example, stairs constitute a greater risk to the elderly, so when assessing the hazard relating to stairs, the elderly are considered to be the vulnerable group.
Likewise the elderly and very young are at greater risk from cold so they are the vulnerable group for the hazard excess cold. The greater the likelihood of harm occurring or the more severe the outcome, then the higher the score for the hazard will be.
The scores are divided into 10 hazard bands, A to J, Band A is the most serious and Band J the least serious.
A hazard which falls into Bands A to C is termed a ‘Category 1’ hazard, we have a statutory duty to take enforcement action to deal with these hazards, while a hazard in bands D to F is a ‘Category 2’ hazard which we have the power to take enforcement action to deal with if it is deemed appropriate.
The decision on which type of action can be taken is based on several factors, the severity of the hazard score, whether we have a duty or just a power to act and a judgement about the best means of dealing with the hazard.
Any action will be taken in line with our Enforcement Policy. We are also able to charge and recover costs associated with taking enforcement action.
Appeals against Notices and Orders is now made by applying to the Residential Property Tribunal.
Further information is available from the DASH Services website.
DASH Services: Landlord accreditation schemes
Erewash Borough Council has long recognised the important role of the private rented sector in providing accommodation for a diverse range of households.
What is accreditation and what are the benefits for the landlords?
Accreditation is a set of standards (or code) relating to the management or physical condition of privately rented accommodation. Landlords who join a scheme and abide by the standards are 'accredited'. Accreditation schemes are voluntary. There is no compulsion for landlords to join, but there may be many advantages, including:
The status of being publicly identified as a good landlord
Distancing themselves from incompetent or unscrupulous landlords
The business advantage of advertising their accredited status to tenants who place emphasis on good quality and well managed accommodation.
Incentives offered vary from scheme to scheme but may include:
A liaison officer who can help landlords to deal with any department of the local authority
Consultation on proposals that may affect landlords, such as changes to legislation or local housing strategies
Access to grants and loans to renovate properties to relevant standards set by the scheme
Advice on how to tackle anti-social behaviour
Discounts and group purchase on goods and services such as property insurance.
What are the benefits for the tenants?
Tenants can benefit from knowing that if they choose to rent from an accredited landlord, the property will be in good condition and the tenancy will be managed to a high standard.
What is the Accreditation Scheme?
The aim of the scheme is to establish and promote good standards and practice, to encourage, acknowledge and raise awareness. The scheme covers the East Midlands, and is open to all landlords and managing agents in the region.
To be accredited, landlords and letting agents must abide by the DASH Code of Management, landlords must prove they are 'fit and proper', have competent hazard awareness and property management skills and have at least applied for any licences that they should hold by law.
Benefits of the scheme for landlords and letting agents:
Support to operate a profitable business in a highly regulated area
Briefing sessions on new legislation and regulations
Professional development courses
Inclusion in the DASH property database and website.
Benefits of the scheme for tenants:
Tenants can choose a quality assured private landlord
Properties covered by the scheme will be listed on the DASH website
Assurance that the property meets and will maintain all legal standards
A tenants' information booklet.
How will the scheme work?
The scheme relies on self-certification. Landlords and letting agents will agree to meet the Code of Management, attend an approved registered course and demonstrate a suitable level of ability. The scheme will inspect properties to make sure that landlords are complying with the Code.
Where can I find out more?
On the Dash Services website.
Address: Dash Services, The Council House, Corporation Street, Derby, DE1 2FSTelephone: 01332 64 03 24.