SADLA meeting 1st December

Michelle Salter (the Senior PRS Housing Manager, Sheffield City Council) gave a presentation on the recently agreed standard in HMO’s.

Michelle Salter  (the Senior PRS Housing Manager, Sheffield City Council) gave a presentation on the recently agreed standard in HMO’s.

The following are some questions and answers from the meeting following her presentation.

Q         If bedroom doors are fire doors – do they require sounders?

A         Where there is a detector sounder within 3m of a bedroom on the same floor then this is acceptable, otherwise a further detector/sounder is required and this could be in the bedroom.  Where there is an attic bedroom with an entrance door on the storey below there needs to be a detector/sounder in the attic bedroom.

Q         The 21 day response time required of us may be a problem if a landlord is, for example, on holiday. Is there any flexibility on this?

A         Yes.  We have been notified in advance of one landlord’s holidays and avoided sending him consultations within that period.  We have been notified that others are away once we have sent the communication out and we have given them extra time to respond once they have returned.  However, where a landlord has gone away and left no cover arrangements in place and we send a consultation out but receive no communication about it then we will have proceeded to issue the licence.

Q         When the new pricing for HMOs is being looked at, can we (SADLA / Landlords) talk to SCC?

A         We use the Government’s cost calculator to determine the charges, but when it comes to looking at the new charges we are happy to speak to landlords about this

Q         Would it be possible to invite landlords, or a selective few, when SCC officers are doing their HHSRS training to learn about the process? Landlords can then feed this back to other landlords/ SADLA members.

A         This is a good idea. We are organising some training for HHSRS at the moment and will gladly offer any spare places to SADLA/SSLA members.  We’re just looking at trainers and dates (and prices!), so will keep you posted on this

Q         Are SCC looking for LD2 or LD3 fire detection systems for licensable HMOs?

A         For shared houses, which form the bulk of our HMOs, this will be Grade D LD3 plus.  In short, for the typical 3 storey student house with a direct means of escape there will be mains wired, interlinked smoke detection required on each landing/hall and in any living room and the cellar together with heat detection in the kitchen.  (See also the answer to the first question above)  For further details the standards are on the Councils website at www.sheffield.gov.uk/hmo – the standards are the first downloadable document at the foot of the page.

Q         Why is the Responsible Landlord Scheme (RLS) membership 3 years but HMO licensing for 5 years?

A         There is no particular reason for the difference except that HMO licensing can be a maximum of 5 years and the RLS was set up in 2003, before mandatory licensing came into effect. We are currently reviewing the RLS standards so we can certainly look at this. Also the RLS is for all private rented property and not just HMOs, so for most landlords it would probably not be an issue.

Q         Landlord used to have regular meetings with the Housing benefits people about any issues, this seems to have stopped. Landlords/ SADLA would like these to be resurrected if possible?

A         Dennis Tester will take this up with John Squire at SCC to see if this could be done.

Q         What are the time scales for issuing HMO Licenses?

A         They are due to be all sent out by the end of March 2010.

Q         Will SCC negotiate on the schedule of works sent with the licence?

A         Yes.  We are encouraging all landlords to contact the officer named on the letters/info who will be very happy to explain anything and visit to clarify.

SADLA committee appoints new key roles

The Sadla has divided up some of the key roles that Stuart Simcock undertook. Sue Twomey has taken over the secretary role; George Lee is now the treasurer and Ashley Tate is responsible for membership renewals. The telephone for Sadla has also changed. The number is now 0114 236 1635.

The Sadla has divided up some of the key roles that Stuart Simcock undertook. Sue Twomey has taken over the secretary role; George Lee is now the treasurer and Ashley Tate is responsible for membership renewals. The telephone for Sadla has also changed. The number is now 0114 236 1635.

The Gas Safe Register™

Gas Safe Register is the new hallmark for gas safety in Great Britain. From April 1st 2009, Gas Safe Register replaces CORGI gas registration as the official gas safety body.

To help raise awareness within the letting industry please find  provided some useful information taken from the Gas Safe Register website.

Gas Safe Register is the new hallmark for gas safety in Great Britain. From April 1st 2009, Gas Safe Register replaces CORGI gas registration as the official gas safety body.

To help raise awareness within the letting industry please find  provided some useful information taken from the Gas Safe Register website.

WHAT IS GAS SAFE REGISTER?™ Gas Safe Register is the new hallmark for gas safety in Great Britain. From April 1st 2009, Gas Safe Register replaces CORGI gas registration as the official gas safety body. So, from 1st April, by law, only Gas Safe registered engineers should carry out work on gas appliances or installations in all property that is let to tenants.

Why is CORGI gas registration in Great Britain ending? The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) undertook a review of gas safety in 2006. This review concluded that there was a strong case for modernising the gas registration scheme to bring added benefits to gas consumers and gas engineers. The review called for a clearer focus on gas safety, and simple registration and competence requirements for gas engineers without compromising safety or service standards. It was an opportunity to build on the successes of the existing registration scheme, and at the same time introduce innovation and add value to gas consumer safety.

How do you check an engineer is Gas Safe registered? Always ask for the card. All Gas Safe registered engineers have an ID card with their licence number and a photograph. The licence number is easily verified on the website or by phone and Gas Safe Register will get back to you with confirmation of the engineer’s name.

If you think your engineer is not registered, just call 0800 408 5500 or let Gas Safe Register know via their website.

How do you find a Gas Safe registered engineer? To find a Gas Safe registered engineer in your area, just come back to the website www.gassaferegister.co.uk/ on 1 April or call them on 0800 408 5500.

If you are you a landlord or letting agent? Landlords are legally responsible for the safety of tenants. So, to make sure any tenanted property is safe, all appliances must have a safety check carried out every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer. The tenant must be given a record of that safety check within 28 days or if a new tenant before they move in. Remember a record must be kept of each safety check for two years.

All existing gas safety records will be valid until their expiry date (even if that date is later than 1st April 2009). Any gas safety record provided after 1st April 2009 will only be valid if the engineer is registered with Gas Safe Register.

Landlords and letting agents need to be sure of exactly who is managing the gas duties at all properties. If it’s contractually the responsibility of the letting agent, then the same conditions apply to them as that of the landlord.

If you are a tenant living in a rented property? As a tenant, it is important to always check the ID of any gas engineer that comes to do work at the property. From 1 April 2009, the engineer must be a Gas Safe registered engineer.

It’s in the tenant’s best interest to co-operate with the landlord or letting agent whenever a gas safety check or maintenance needs to be carried out by letting the engineer in to do the work. They should ensure the landlord or letting agent supplies them with a copy of the safety check within 28 days of it being carried out or before they move in.

If they think a gas appliance is faulty they should turn it off and let the landlord or letting agent know immediately.

In an emergency: If anyone smells gas or thinks there might be a gas leak, they should turn off the gas at the meter, extinguish naked flames, open windows and leave the area. Seek medical advice if anyone feels unwell. Call the Gas Emergency Freephone Number 0800 111 999.

For more information on the Gas Safe Register please log onto www.gassaferegister.co.uk

When is an EPC not required

An EPC is only required for habital units which are self contained. If the tenant has a contract with a landlord for the parts of a property they have access to, but not as a whole dwelling then an EPC is not required. This is spelled out in a document recently published by the CLG June 2008. The page referenced by the above are on page 16

EPC chart

An EPC is only required for habital units which are self contained. If the tenant has a contract with a landlord for the parts of a property they have access to, but not as a whole dwelling then an EPC is not required. This is spelled out in a document recently published by the CLG June 2008. The page referenced by the above are on page 16.

Please see Energy Performance Certificates for Dwellings in the Social and Private Rented Sectors – A Guide to Landlords

Right click and select “Save Target As” to save a copy to your computer.

Cannabis Factories within Rental Properties in Sheffield

Over the last 18 months South Yorkshire Police have recovered well over £6,000,000 worth of Cannabis cultivated within student type landlord owned properties. (20,000 mature plants)

Over the last 18 months South Yorkshire Police have recovered well over £6,000,000 worth of Cannabis cultivated within student type landlord owned properties. (20,000 mature plants)

The offenders are often of South East Asian descent and alarm bells should start ringing if persons appearing to be Chinese students/Doctors contact you. Particularly multi-occupancy.

Some signs to look out for pre contracts are:

  • They often offer large sums of rent in advance.
  • Actively request no visits.
  • Place shrines in front of the door stating they are for spiritualist reasons and frequent visits would harm their effects.

Some signs to look out for with current properties are:

  • Strange smells emanating from the property.
  • Whirring sounds from fans.
  • All windows covered with curtains/blinds etc.
  • Upstairs windows covered with curtains/blinds etc.
  • Unusually high or low electricity bills.
  • Compost bags, plastic bags/tubs, fertiliser bottles etc.

Large rental payments in advance may seem enticing but if they manage to remain undetected they will eventually fail with future payments and landlords who have been paid healthy sums in advance, have ended up chasing further rental payments without success. As soon as the occupants are aware that they have aroused suspicions they will just flee the house leaving the landlord with a property in dire need of repair at a huge cost.

They are basically gardeners who move from property to property.

  • Regular checks need conducting on all properties.

Insurance may cover most of the initial cost but you can guarantee the premiums will rise significantly

Contact Numbers:

South Yorkshire Police

In case of attending premises and finding cannabis factory with occupants present – 999

In case of attending premises and finding Cannabis Factory with no occupants – 0114 2202020

For passing on information in relation to suspicions or requiring further advice – 0114 2964892 – Ask for PC 2666 Mark Chappell (If unavailable leave contact number and I will contact you on return to work.

Energy Performance Reports

From October 2008 all rental properties in England and Wales will be required to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) prepared by an accredited Energy Assessor. These will offer opportunities for landlords to differentiate their property from their competitors and gain a distinct marketing advantage.

From October 2008 all rental properties in England and Wales will be required to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) prepared by an accredited Energy Assessor. These will offer opportunities for landlords to differentiate their property from their competitors and gain a distinct marketing advantage.

The energy efficiency and environmental impact of your property will be rated on a scale from A-G (where A is the most efficient and G the least efficient). Current running costs for heating, hot water and lighting will also be shown on the certificate, together with a list of recommended energy saving improvements.

An example of what the certificate is likely to look like is available at:

www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/pdf/energy-certificate

Help is at Hand

A network of Energy Saving Trust advice centres operates across the UK. They provide impartial information on home energy efficiency and can advise you on any grants and offers that may be available to help you with the costs of installing measures.

To contact your local centre, simply call 0800 512 012. They are open from 09:00 – 17:00 Monday to Friday.

Useful Links

General Information

Energy Saving Trust – general information about energy efficiency in the home

www.energysavingtrust.org.uk

Useful information for landlords about energy efficiency        www.cen.org.uk/landlords

Energy Efficiency: The Guide – everything you need to know about energy efficiency in your properties

www.est.org.uk/housingbuildings/localauthorities/theguide/

What to buy? Energy Saving Recommended products – a list of the most energy efficient household appliances and heating systems available

www.est.org.uk/myhome/efficientproducts/recommended/

Downloads

A landlords guide to Energy Performance Documents

Information sheet March 2008