Don’t sit on your obligations.
A landlord has certain responsibilities when renting out a private property, many of which differ depending on the type of the property. Failure to meet these obligations may result in a fine or even prosecution. Previously, we discussed the unique obligations imposed upon landlords of HMOs and sole occupancies, this article will tackle the responsibilities of a landlord of a bedsit.
A bedsit is a form of accommodation made up of a single unit (typically one room) in a property with shared facilities. The unit will be a bedroom, perhaps even one with an en-suite toilet or a kitchenette, and will usually be rented out to individuals or couples. The person occupying the bedsit will share other facilities, such as a living room or bathroom, with other tenants in the same building. These other tenants will likely be occupying their own respective bedsits.
If a property comprises separate bedsits, and has 3 or more tenants who make up more than one “household”, then the property will be classified as an HMO. A household is basically a family unit; it can be made up of a person living on their own or a couple who live together. If the landlord of a bedsit is also the landlord of an HMO, then there will be an overlap of responsibilities. You can learn more about the differences between bedsits and HMOs.
What responsibilities are imposed by law on a landlord of a bedsit?
- Obtain a “landlord license” from your local council if they confirm that your property is in a selective licensing area.
- Get consent to let the property from any superior landlord, mortgagee, lender or insurer.
- Register with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) here if you intend to collect, process, or store the personal data of your tenants on any electrical device. Personal data includes names, phone numbers, and addresses.
- Conduct a ‘right to rent’ check on potential tenants if the property is in England..
- Give the tenant a copy of the government’s How to rent guide.
- Give the tenant a copy of a valid Gas Safety Certificate before they move in.
- Within 30 days of receiving the deposit from a tenant, provide them with details (including a certificate) of your chosen government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme.
- Give the tenant a copy of the latest Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) if the property is in England. You don’t need to give one if the bedsit is occupied by someone on a long lease, a lodger, or someone sharing the property with your family.
State of the bedsit:
- Must adhere to your local council’s rules on the minimum size of the room per occupant, and the ratio of amenities to occupants.
- Bedsit must be fit for human habitation and safe from any health hazards.
- Bedsit must be in a property with a minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E.
- All furniture and upholstery provided by the landlord must meet current fire resistance requirements. Please note that furniture manufactured after March 1989 will comply with these regulations and most will even have a label to prove it.
- All electrical appliances provided by the landlord must be in safe working order – a qualified electrician will ideally be hired to conduct Portable Appliance Testing (a “PAT”).
- All plugs, sockets, and adapters that you provide must comply with BS 1363, the current UK standard.
- A carbon monoxide alarm must be installed if there is a combustion appliance in the bedsit (i.e. an appliance such as a heater or furnace which is powered by a solid fuel like coal or wood), and the property is in England.
- If the bedsit is in England, there must be at least one smoke detector on the storey where the bedsit is located. The landlord must make a record of testing it on the first day of the tenancy.
- Depending on factors such as the number of storeys of the property the bedsit is located in, there are different guidelines on fire safety which can be accessed here (page 43-6). In general though, the tenant must know the evacuation plan in case of a fire, and all fire escape routes such as hallways, landings, and staircases, must always be free from obstructions.
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Extra obligations imposed on landlord if the bedsits are in a property which classifies as an HMO:
- Obtain an HMO license if your local council needs one. Note that you will definitely need a license if you are operating a large HMO i.e. where five or more tenants who are not from the same household live together, at least one or more tenants share some of the facilities (toilet, bathroom or kitchen) and at least one of them or their employer pays rent.
- Maintain the cleanliness and repair of the communal areas and facilities.
- Complete a fire risk assessment; further information can be obtained from your local council to ensure this is done properly.
- Install fire doors if they are likely to be used as an escape route.
- Check and maintain electrical fixtures and fittings such as sockets or light fittings over the course of the tenancy, and provide safety certificates for all electrical appliances when requested.
- Provide adequate bins for the storage of refuse, having regard to the disposal services provided by the local authority.
- Ensure the property is not overcrowded.
- Display or provide to the tenant contact information for you, your agent or your property manager.
- Ensure you meet all other requirements for operating an HMO, as we discuss here.
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