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Code of conduct

Code of Conduct for Landlords

The aim of this code is to provide a brief statement to standards that members are expected to conform to in connection with the letting of their properties.

Introduction

The Rent it Right Code of Conduct is designed to raise and maintain standards in the private-rented sector. It sets out the standards of good practice that member landlords are expected to observe in connection with the letting of their residential properties, and it seeks to promote good relationships between landlord and tenant by ensuring a good standard of service to tenants.

Members of Rent it Right, whether they manage their lettings themselves or do so through an agent or any third party, are expected to conform to the code of conduct.

Amendments to the code of conduct will be made as necessary and notified to members. Should there be any inconsistency between legislation and the code of conduct, legislation will take precedence.

Landlords agree to:

Property Conditions 

• Landlords should aspire to higher standards of accommodation, above the set minimum requirements. They are to ensure that their properties provide protection from the environment and are capable of being occupied safely and healthily by a range of households with a spectrum of lifestyles, while meeting the needs of a wide range of households whose members may include the elderly or the very young 

• Take responsibility for the provision, state and proper working order of the installations within the dwelling including the supply and use of water, gas and electricity (current gas safety report and electrical installation condition report to be provided for each property); personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage; food safety, ventilation, space & water heating. Landlords are also responsible for both the internal & external structural elements of the dwelling.

Energy Efficiency 

• Properties owned by accredited landlords should have achieved the highest EPC ratings possible, within reason, for the property construction type. Elements, such as the heating system and roof, which contribute to the EPC score should not have ratings of “poor” or “very poor”. All works to improve energy efficiency should be carried out prior to renewal of, or initial application for accreditation to prevent delays in approval. 

• All properties must have an EPC rating of E or higher, unless exempt under the Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012. An EPC rating of E or higher is considered achievable for the majority of properties. 

Advertising 

• Accurately report property details and allow prospective tenants to view the property having due regard to the rights of existing tenants. 

• Advertising boards should be displayed for the no more than the duration it takes to let the property and taken down as soon as possible after a property is let. 

Deposits 

• Provide a receipt for deposit paid. 

• Provide the tenant with detailed information about what steps they need to take to avoid any part of their deposit being retained at the end of a tenancy and offer to inspect the property at the tenant’s request. 

• Give a written explanation to the tenants if any portion of the deposit is retained. 

• The Housing Act 2004 required landlords to join a statutory tenancy deposit protection scheme from the 6th April 2007, if they take a deposit for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. 

• If a deposit is taken you must provide the tenant with details of the tenancy deposit protection scheme under which their deposit is being held. 

Receipts 

• Provide a receipt for all the rent payments upon request, if rent is payable other than weekly. Written receipts must be provided for all cash transactions. 

Fees 

• Clearly inform prospective tenants of any fees that may be charged for arranging a letting agreement. 

Pre- tenancy Check 

• Ensure that at the commencement of the tenancy a pre-tenancy check has been completed and that all obligations on the part of the owner in regard to repairs and property maintenance or improvements have been fully discharged or will be discharged by a date agreed with the tenants. Any pre-tenancy repairs or intentions on the part of the landlord to undertake improvements should be confirmed in writing. Inventories 

• Supply an inventory, indicating the condition of the items where necessary. The inventory must be signed by the landlord and countersigned by the tenant once both parties have had an opportunity to check its correctness. 

• Where a managing agent is employed, the landlord shall at the commencement of the letting, personally sign the inventory to confirm his acceptance of the agent’s description of the items listed in the inventory or delegate to the agent in writing responsibility for compiling the inventory and for deciding at the termination of the letting whether all or part of the deposit shall be returned to the tenant. 

Disputes 

• Where disputes arise between the landlord and tenant, make a written response to correspondence from tenants or their agent within 3 weeks, ensure that all settlements and agreements reached are honoured within three weeks of such a settlement being agreed and maintain courteous professional relations with tenants during any dispute. 

Planning and Building Regulations 

• Landlords should ensure that approval is granted prior to works being carried out to extensions, adaptations and other alterations that are subject to Planning and Building Control consent. 

Compliance with HMO Licensing requirements 

• Landlords must ensure that the licence holder has complied with all HMO licence conditions for their properties. Where licence conditions are issued for improvement works, they must be completed within the timeframes indicated on the licence. 

Submission of documents to HMO Licensing 

• Landlords must ensure that all documents relating to the HMO licence are renewed as required, and copies of the updated documents are sent to the HMO Licensing team. Documents include, but are not limited to: gas safety certificates, electrical installation condition reports, PAT testing, and EPC reports. Accredited landlords should supply all information in a timely manner and should not have to be reminded. 

Business Conduct 

• Adhere to the principles set out in the Private Rented Sector Code of Practice 

• Not demand money on an unreasonable basis. 

• Behave in a professional, courteous and respectful manner towards all parties, including tenants and Council staff. 

• Ensure that in the provision and letting of housing or associated services and in the letting of contracts, no person, or group of persons applying will be treated less favourably than any other person or group of persons because of their race, colour, ethnic or national origin, gender, disability or sexual orientation. 

• Adopt the correct procedures for tenancy terminations and refrain from any act of harassment or illegal eviction. 

• Ensure adequate insurance cover in place for property and landlords furnishings. 

• Give adequate notice of entry in writing before inspecting a property, except in the case of an emergency. 

Information/Repairs 

• There must be arrangements in place to report and deal with general repairs. Tenants should be given details of how to turn off the water supply, gas and electricity services and a telephone number to report repairs. 

• Provide details of the relevant utility companies and ensure that the tenant knows how to get services transferred or reconnected when necessary. 

Emergency repairs arrangements 

• Provide details of an emergency contact (if different from details contained in the tenancy agreement). 

• Landlords must have arrangement in place for emergency problems with drains, electricity, gas and dangerous occurrences. A system to record all repairs must be in place as evidence of good practice. The landlord shall ensure that this procedure works in practice. 

Target response times 

• Emergency Repairs - Any repairs required avoiding danger to health, risking to the safety of residents or serious damage to buildings or residents belongings e.g. burst pipes, leaking roofs, heating failure. Make safe or complete within 24 hours of defect being reported. 

• Priority 2 (Urgent Repairs) - Repairs to defects which materially affect the comfort or convenience of residents must be completed within 10 working days of report of the defect. 

• Priority 3 (Non-urgent Repairs) - Reactive repairs not falling within the above categories. Completed within 28 days of reporting the defect. 

Tenants Agreements 

• Provide the tenants with a suitable written tenancy agreement in plain English, in a minimum font size of 12 points (or rent book if weekly tenancy), stating the name, phone number and current registered address of the owner and agent if applicable. The contract should contain no clauses that conflict with the tenants’ legal rights or with the terms of this code of practice. Prospective tenants should be given a full copy of the tenancy agreement. Where requested tenants should be permitted at least 48 hours within which to seek advice regarding those contractual terms. 

• Clearly detail what rates, taxes, services or other charges are included in the rent and which are not included. The landlord’s responsibilities for maintaining these services should be detailed. 

• Provide clear written instructions for the payment of rent. 

• Include clauses regarding nuisance and anti-social behaviour and the penalties if tenants behave in an anti-social manner. 

• Clearly state the grounds for termination of the tenancy and the possession procedure which will ensue if the terms of the tenancy are not complied with. 

• Provide contact details to immediate neighbours and agree to respond to complaints regarding neighbour nuisance or the anti-social behaviour of their tenants. 

• Landlords agree within one week to: 

a) Visit/contact the tenant to discuss the nature of the complaint. 

b) Write to the tenant following initial contact detailing what was discussed and agreed. 

c) During this initial contact, the landlord will respect the anonymity of the complaint if this is requested. 

d) Co-operate fully with the appropriate agencies if the complaint is not resolved in the first week and take action within agreed time time-scales. 

• Where it is agreed that there is sound evidence of persistent breach of tenancy conditions the owner/agent will serve a notice to terminate the tenancy. The enforcement of this notice will depend upon the subsequent behaviour of the tenant in response to the notice.