Latest Lettings News Autumn edition
Shepherds Estate Agent Limited w w w. s h e p h e r d s e s t a t e s . c o . u k
Meet the Lettings Team
In this editions: COVID-19 update | Electrical Safety Standard in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) (England) Regulations 2020 | FIXFLO and how tenants are adapting | COVID-19 Virus update:
Most landlords know, a small ‘bubble’ of staff remained in office at Hoddesdon, holding the Since Mid-March, it has been truly challenging fort for sales in progress and for manfor everyone. Managing the family dynamic, agement duties on private and commercial let keeping safe, working under restrictions, or properties. being furloughed, suffering isolation anxiety or Whilst it has not been possible to instruct on loneliness. The impact has been huge on our interim inspections (see over the next page). Nation. We have kept up to date on safety checks and Whatever you have had to deal with, we are all certificates, whilst handling the latest changes aware the fallout and ramifications have not in legislation requiring ELECTRICAL safety tests come to an end. Towns, Cities are spiking again to be in place on: new lets, fixed renewals and and we are unsure if it will be a winter of ALL other property by April 2021. discontent?
Nicola Moore: Lettings Manager and work-ing at Shepherds for 18 years. Diane Sanders: At Shepherds for 22 years and oversees operations, as Director.
Shane Owens: Lettings Clerk Hodd & Cheshunt 2 years
Shanie Clark: Joined Shepherds from The Reid Partnership when Shepherds expanded 2016 in Cheshunt
Lydia Sanders: Lettings Intern and FIXFLO expert
Electrical Safety Standards in the PRS (England) Regs., 2020 What you should know? All new tenancies and fixed renewals from 1st July 2020 require a valid certificate in place before 1st day marketing.
number of tenancies through the property since the test was undertaken or any significant change to the property/electrics etc., since the test was done? Again, check the guidance or ask a member of staff if you have any questions. You may need to assess if you require a re-test or can hold off until expiry of the current certification. All other tenancies must hold a valid certificate by April 2021.
HODDESDON OFFICE: 01992 449501 email@example.com
Landlords should check or seek advice if they are in doubt whether their property holds a valid certificate. Shepherds are not qualified electricians and are not able to confirm this for Important point of law: if an inspection is carlandlords. We are however, happy to organize ried out and the property fails the test. THE any inspection for managed properties. LANDLORD only has 28 days to correct failings If you have previously undertaken or instructed & issue a valid certificate. There is no legal abila safety test the validity may depend on; time ity to delay or defer carrying out repairs to bring the property up to standard. of issue (required standards at the time),
CHESHUNT OFFICE: 01992 637351 Cheshunt@shepherdsestates.co.uk
Shepherds have pledged £100 per sale or let from July to Dec 2020, to the local FOODBANK. As they operate within our areas. Food poverty has doubled during COVID, so we aim to do as much as we can through the crisis to help our local community. Look out for news on our Xmas collections BOXES
To remove your name from our mailing list, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org Questions or comments? Email on the above or contact via www.shepherdsestates.co.uk
NEW FOR 2020
Landlord update on
Temporary Interim measures starting October 2020:
Interim Property Inspections
Noting the majority of tenants are still refusing or are reluctant to
After lock down, we were fully prepared to
give access to ESSENTIAL work and MANDATORY safe tests we
resume property inspections sometime towards
have been working on ideas and have devised a report system
the end of September.
that we are going to implement and send to tenants. In order to
However, having maintained open channels of communication with our trade bodies and inventory providers, the stance is that non-essential inspections should not be taking place. Agents con-
undertake remote inspections. We hope to achieve this by carrying out the following: 1.
their contracted terms (to allow interim inspections to be
tinue to operating under strict COVID-19 measures on essential
undertaken). Albeit, they have been
viewings / property visits. Although our doors remain locked to
lawfully denied under COVID-19
ensure visitors and staff interact under COVID-control, to limit
through lock-down. It is necessary to
risk. Therefore we shall not be resuming inspections until further
adapt as no one could predict how
long the pandemic or lock-down would last. Therefore
In coming to this decision we have considered many factors:
HMRC & H&S Inspector rules and guidance
Review of our internal policy and procedures
Staff, tenant and trade people’s safety
Resistance - from tenants for NON-ESSENTIAL visits
The lack of clarity on the ramifications towards agents when
Remitting communication to tenants to remind them of
we are need to make temporary adaptions to our checks in the form of remote inspections. 2.
We will email tenants in target areas (as all of our interims are ZONED to a specific area on a specific day). That way we will hopefully keep to a similar schedule.
ance on winter care of the landlord property, TIPS on the most common tenant faults or missed tenant maintenance and the instructions on how to undertake the inspection.
conducting, or insisting on entry to a property for nonessential inspections.
etc. Ask for any detail on condensation / blackening and
‘Employers have a duty to reduce workplace risk to the lowest
offer tips on how to avoid such issues during the colder
reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures. workplace so that everybody’s health and safety is protected. In
that the report is a true representation of the condition
safety of your workers’.
protocols have since been removed. Which indicates a retraction on the relaxation rules. This coincides with the introduction of the Rule of SIX regulations. The Borough of Broxbourne has also been highlighted as an area
There are set requirements for photographic evidence and a statement of truth / signature for them to sign,
the context of COVID-19 this means protecting the health and
Furthermore, links to HMRC guidance on some of the relaxed
This will be in a simple format, asking for the level of cleanliness of main rooms, bathroom, kitchen and ovens
Employers must work with employees or contractors sharing the
The email will contain an introduction letter and guid-
at the time of compiling the report. 6.
Once completed and returned, we shall load to the file and forward a copy to landlords.
Landlords peace of mind—Needless to say, where we have had trade carry out MANDATORY tests, they have been ‘our eyes’ when on site, to note
being monitored; due to a noted spike in COVID-19 cases, so
And/or report anything critical or alarming, with a
everything is pointing to a tightening of
high percentage of property visits, there are few that have not
movement. This leads us to conclude, we are
required MANDATORY attendance during lockdown. Apart from
confident in the decisions we have made as
this, we have maintained all other agent obligations to include;
a company. Staff, tenants and trade workers
gas safe checks, legionella, electrical safe inspections, EPC checks
welfare is at the forefront of our decision making and will remain
and essential; repairs, blockages, leaks etc. All of which have
a priority for Shepherds, so non-essential property visits will re-
continued as normal, unless a tenant is self-isolating.
main on hold. Temporary Interim Inspection measures—we hope to roll these We want staff to be reassured that we take their health and
out from this week so will update landlords accordingly when we
wellbeing seriously, keeping to the risk assessment and protocols
get to the area your property is located in.
we have put in place.
Homes Fit For Human Habitation Act (HFFHH) “Prescribed hazard” means any matter or circum- Matters or circumstances determining if a stance amounting to a hazard for the time being preproperty is unfit scribed in regulations made under section 2 of the Housing Act 2004. Determining whether a house is unfit or not is found in section 10 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 which has This is presumably referring to schedule 1 of The Housalso been amended by the Act which adds “in relation ing Health and Safety Rating System (England) Regulato a dwelling in England, any prescribed haztions 2005 because it refers specifically to “any matter ard” (more on this in a moment). or circumstance …” which are the 29 hazards listed in schedule 1. Section 10(1) reads (including amendments from 20 March 2019): The property is only regarded as unfit if (and only if) “it In determining whether a house or dwelling is unfit for is so far defective in one or more of those matters that human habitation, regard shall be had to its condition it is not reasonably suitable for occupation in that condition”. in respect of the following matters—
repair, stability, freedom from damp, internal arrangement, natural lighting, ventilation, water supply, drainage and sanitary conveniences, facilities for preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water;
in relation to a dwelling in England, any prescribed hazard; and the house or dwelling shall be regarded as unfit for human habitation if, and only if, it is so far defective in one or more of those matters that it is not reasonably suitable for occupation in that condition.
The matters that could now cause a property to be unfit (only if it so defective that it is not reasonably suitable for occupation) will also include from 20 March 2019: It is important to remember notification of a repair or hazard is audited, as they are deemed time sensitive. Meaning landlords cannot defer remedy.
SEE OVER LEAFT FOR THE FULL LIST OF THE HAZARDS THAT ARE CONTAINED IN THE HFFHH REGULATIONS
1 Damp and Mould Growth
15 Domestic Hygiene Pestsand Refuse
Health threat from dust mites and mould caused by dampness and/or high humidity. Includes threats to mental health from living with damp and condensation.
Due to poor design and construction, damaged surfaces, access and harbourage for pests.
2 Excess Cold Health threat from low indoor temperatures from lack of central heating or affordable heating, poor insulation, disrepair of heating system or building components etc.
16 Food Safety Inadequate facilities for storage, preparation and cooking of food. 17 Personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage.
3 Excess Heat
Infectious disease and effects on mental health associated with poor personal hygiene due to inadequate washing and clothes washing facilities, sanitation and drainage.
Health threat from high indoor temperatures caused by lack of ventilation, excess heating or heat gain in summer from poor insulation, large expanses of glass etc.
18 Water Supply
4 Asbestos (and manufactured mineral fibres)
Disease, poisoning and parasitic infections due to poor quality or contaminated domestic water supply.
Health threat caused by exposure to asbestos fibres and manufactured mineral fibres (MMF) e.g. from insulation of pipework, lofts and cavity walls. Inhalation of fibres.
19 Falls associated with Baths
20 Falling on Level Surfaces
Health threat from chemicals used to treat timber, insect infestation and mould growth in dwellings. Health effects may vary.
Falling on floors, yards, paths, trip steps less than 300mm resulting in injury, fractures, cuts etc.
6 Carbon Monoxide (CO) and fuel combustion products
21 Falling on Stairs etc.
Health threat from excess levels of CO, nitrogen dioxide (e.g. from gas cookers), sulphur dioxide (e.g. from coal fires) and smoke in the dwelling.
Falls associated with internal or external stairs, steps over 300 mm and ramps resulting in injury.
Slipping getting in or out of bath or showers resulting in injury, fractures , cuts etc.
22 Falling Between Levels
Where difference in level is over 300 mm - includes injuries arising from Health threats from high levels of lead e.g. in old paintwork and old lead falls from balconies, landings, windows, accessible roofs, basement plumbing. wells, retaining walls etc. 8 Radiation
23 Electrical Hazards
Health threats from radon gas building up in sub-floor space from radia- Shocks and burns from electrocution due to defective wiring, plugs etc. tion emitting rock as part of normal ground conditions. Includes lightning strikes. 9 Uncombusted Fuel Gas
Health threat from escaping gas within a dwelling causing potential explosions/fire.
Potential fatality from burns and smoke inhalation caused by uncontrolled (accidental) fires frequently associated with cooking appliances, chip pans, defective heating/electrical appliances, dangerous wiring etc.
10 Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) Health threats from organic chemicals such as formaldehyde found in a wide variety of materials in the home. 11 Crowding and Space
25 Flames and Hot Surfaces Burns caused by contact with hot flames/surfaces or controlled fires or liquids (e.g. when cooking or from heaters) or scalds from hot liquids and vapours.
Psychological as well as infectious disease health threats from overcrowding due to lack of living space including sleeping, cooking, washing 26 Collisions, Cuts and Strains etc. Physical injury from a) trapping body parts in architectural features, doors or windows; or b) collisions with architectural glazing, windows, 12 Entry by Intruders doors, low headroom, ceilings and walls. Psychological and actual health threat from intruders or fear of intrud27 Explosions ers due to poor security against unauthorised entry e.g. inadequate/ broken door and window locks, fences. Injury and the threat of injury from explosions from mains or stored gas. 13 Lighting
28 Position and Operability of Amenities
Lack of natural and/or artificial light or poorly positioned lights. Includes Strains and injuries from awkward positioning of windows , amenities psychological effect from lack of a view. Assessment is of whole dwellsuch as sinks and wash hand basins, kitchen cupboards, switches etc. ing. 29 Structural Collapse and Falling Elements 14 Noise Injury arising from falling slates, bricks, ceiling plaster or windows etc. External noise from railways, airports, factories or roads, internally from and collapse from structural failure of roofs, walls or floors, guard rails adjacent dwellings lacking sound insulation (between flats), internal etc. noise from plumbing, for example.
COVID—impact: RE-LETTING / SELLING TENANTED PROPERTY
SHEPHERDS & FINE AND COUNTRY SALES
When a tenant is leaving and has given notice, or the landlord has served notice, for whatever reason: Re-marketing of property TO LET or FOR SALE has been operationally problematic. Tenants are refusing viewings on the grounds that they are shielding, nervous or medically able to refuse viewings. Agents cannot legally insist under COVID-rules to be given access. It would be our advice in these circumstances that viewings are
SHEPHERDS & FINE AND COUNTRY LETTINGS
deferred until the tenant has left. THIS IS NOT ideal but there is little that can be done. REQUIRED NOTICE If a landlord wishes to serve Notice to tenants under COVID-19 it is currently 6 months. No court action can take place until after 31st March 2021 for no fault evictions served under Section 21 of the Housing Act (form
6A). If a tenant has a history of arrears or late payment records, is in excess of six-months in arrears, or there is a record of violent or anti-social behaviour, the landlord may have cause to seek a speedier eviction, depending on the circumstances of their claim. BUSINESS AS USUAL When considering the enormity of a GLOBAL PANDEMIC, and the
HODDESDON : BROXBOURNE : CHESHUNT
fact, many organisations are still operating ‘sparingly’ or from home, with limited or reduced services, we are pleased to say most of our management and business has continued, as we did not close our business nor shut our office. This meant we remained operational, other than being able to carry out inspections/non-essential work, or where the tenant had medical grounds to refuse. Given the gravity of the situation, we are proud of the staff who worked through lock-down, and how all returning staff adapted to the new ‘NORM’. In conclusion, we look to our landlords for their continued support in keeping the welfare of our staff, your tenants, your property and the various trades people as safe as we can. THANK YOU. TEAM SHEPHERDS
REMINDER—As per May 2019 circular: From June 2020, all tenant deposits held by Shepherds are equal to a maximum of 5 weeks rent (unless rent is high value). This is to bring all tenancies in line with current regulations, and in-line with our procedures. Some landlords missed this in the update. Self-managed —if self-managing landlords hold deposits, where the rent increases/decreases, or there is significant change to the tenancy, the LL MUST ensure the tenant deposit is no greater than equivalent to 5 weeks rent.