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East Midlands Landlord Accreditation Scheme

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e-Bulletin Issue 6

Welcome to the sixth edition of the Landlord eBulletin.

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Note: EMLAS does not endorse products and services, but at times may bring to your notice services which may be of benefit or interest to landlords.

Ask the expert

Every issue, through our Ask an Expert feature, EMLAS landlords will be given the chance to ask a panel of experts their specific questions relating to all housing and property issues such as - landlord legislation, possession, tenancy deposits, property investment and tenancy management

Question: My tenants have decided to leave and gave notice. I have got a couple who are interested in the property and want to make an appointment for the new viewing.

However, the current tenants are being difficult and I can’t pin them down to a definite date when I can let the new potential tenants I have lined up have a look around the property. After several attempts I have told them I am happy to just use my own key and do the viewing but they have refused.

Could you tell me if I am within my rights to use my key, please? As I feel I will lose these prospective tenants if they cannot be shown around the property.

Answer: If there was an emergency such as a broken boiler, then a landlord would have the right to enter without authority and complete the works.

Unfortunately, in all other instances a tenant has no obligation to let you in. From the moment that a landlord hands over the keys to a tenant the landlords right of access ends. If a landlord wants access to the property then they must give WRITTEN notice, at least 24 hours in advance, but unless there is an emergency the tenant can say no.

I know this is frustrating but it is the law.

It may be simply that the current tenant is in the middle of packing, the property could be messy and they feel that you will ask them to have the place spick and span before the viewing takes place – which they feel they haven’t got time for.

It might be worth your while just saying that you realise that the place will be in a muddle because they are preparing to move out, but that you would really appreciate their helping you to avoid the property being empty after they have left; but even then you should give them 24 hrs written notice.

I hope that you can resolve the problem because no landlord wants a void between tenancies. Take care though that the current tenants don’t start felling that you are harassing them, because that has serious legal consequences. It’s not always what you say or do - its what the tenant perceives.

If you would like to put a question to our panel of experts - then email . We will feature at least one per issue of the e-Bulletin

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HMO Relicensing Regulations Simplified

On 10 September the government introduced a change to the regulations governing HMOs. The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and Other Houses (Miscellaneous Provisions)(Amendment)(England) Regulations 2012 amend the process for license renewals and cuts the amount of information that landlords are obligated to provide.

There is now a simple obligation to state who the licence holder and proposed manager are and which property a licence is sought for. If any other key piece of information has changed then this must also be notified.

This reduced requirement only applies where the applicant and property have not changed. If there is a new applicant for an already licensed property, then a full application is required. So if you are purchasing an already licensed property then you will still need to complete the entire form.

This is a welcome change for landlords and agents as it reduces the burden, and therefore the cost, for both sides.

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Free Loft and Cavity Wall insulation still available! But act NOW...........

The Energy suppliers have an obligation and targets to reduce carbon emissions in households . Energy suppliers have until the end of the year to reach their targets. That is why in many cases, they have opened up and are now offering free insulation to virtually everyone.

Do you live in your own home or privately rent your home from a landlord?

If the answer to the question above is YES, then you qualify. There is no longer a restriction to how old you have to be or the need to be in receipt of benefits. Quite simply stated, if you own your own property or rent from a private landlord then you are eligible for FREE loft and cavity wall insulation.

So landlords should be making their tenants aware of this.

What’s the catch?

Of course, there are some restrictions - for example, the schemes work on an average size for different property types so if your property is particularly large then there may be a charge (known as excess meterage). However, if your tenants are told they need to pay, it is worth checking out other energy suppliers, or local insulation companies to see if any will do it for free or cheaper.

Your tenants do not have to change their energy supplier to take advantage of an insulation offer.

But remember, this scheme is only available until the end of December when Green Deal will be introduced, and schemes will have a closing date before that for accepting new applications. Why not speak to your tenants today to get them to apply – or contact the energy supplier or insulation company yourself.

If, in the end, you prefer to do the work yourself, don’t forget to check out the Landlords Energy Saving Allowance , which is a tax allowance.

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Did you know you could be held liable for defects in your property created by tenant damage or alterations?

Tenants should keep the property reasonably clean and tidy and leave the property reasonably clean and tidy at the end of the tenancy. However, what happens if the property is left in a damaged state and more importantly who is held responsible if there are any consequences?

In most circumstances a tenant is not responsible for repairs or damage arising from burglaries, accident, acts of God, or fair wear and tear. However, tenants may be liable for repairs if they know about the need for them, they failed to advise the landlord, and the damage to the property became worse as a result.

In a recent case where a handyman was injured after falling on a staircase, it was found that the owner was liable – not the tenant.

The Case: Hannon v Hillingdon Homes,
Patrick Hannon was employed by a contractor of Hillingdon Homes Limited to undertake maintenance work at Hillingdon’s properties. Whilst attending a property to repair a boiler, he suffered a serious injury to his ankle when he fell from a staircase which was not secured by a banister. The tenant had removed the banister some 20 years earlier for aesthetic reasons.

Although representatives of Hillingdon had attended the property over the years, the banister remained absent. There had been various attendances at the property by workmen who had undertaken repairs or maintenance and there had been no other injuries due to the missing banister.

Hillingdon were found to be liable for the injury to Mr Hannon, even though it was the tenant of the property who had removed the banister.


The above decision seems to indicate that landlords can and will be made liable for any defects in the property as a result of tenant damage or alterations. It may not always be possible for a landlord to know if contractors or tenants have carried out works that could adversely affect the health and safety of occupiers or visitors to the property.

So how can landlords help safeguard themselves from this situation?

1. Make sure you always use an inventory: At the commencement of a tenancy a thorough inventory with photographic evidence will provide an effective record of the property condition.

2. Communication - Build a relationship with your tenant: One of the most important ways of avoiding problems is by keeping in regular contact with your tenant and sorting out any problems as soon as they happen. The first weeks of a new tenancy are often the time when issues become apparent and it may be a worthwhile investment to spend time to ensure the new tenants are settling in and are aware of their responsibilities regarding the upkeep of their new home and garden.

3. Give the tenant your contact details: Create a folder or notice board at the property to be available to new tenants. Make sure things like the gas certificate and your contact details are included - make it easy for them to get in touch with you and report any faults/repairs.

4. Make your tenancy agreement clear: Clearly state who is responsible for what. Laying out clear guidelines for tenants will manage their expectations during and at the end of the tenancy. Your tenancy agreement should state clearly where responsibility lies for reporting of defects and how repairs and maintenance will be carried out.

5. Property inspections: Have a schedule of regular visits to the property recorded in your tenancy agreement. Regular property inspections are a good way to spot any problems and keep in contact with your tenant.

6. Insurance: It’s important to insure your property against damage that may occur, either through accident or otherwise. If you have insurance already, then check exactly what is covered by your policy. Talk to your insurance company about their requirements for making claims. Most insurers require landlords to prove they have conducted a thorough tenancy selection process, and regular property inspections before honouring damage claims.

7. Keep a log: Make sure that you record all damage and repairs in a log or on your schedule of visits reports. Not only will this be important for any insurance claim, but it will also aid you in any rent deposit disagreement at the end of a tenancy.

Private landlords are responsible for most major repairs. Tenants are usually only responsible for minor maintenance, and for putting right any damage they have caused. In using the above guidance you can minimise your risk in becoming liable for any claims as a result of disrepair or damage issues at your rental property.

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The new offence: squatting in a residential building

From 1 September 2012 the new offence of squatting in a residential building will apply throughout England and Wales. The offence has been introduced as part of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment Offenders Act 2012 ("LASPOA 2012"). This follows the Ministry of Justice consultation into dealing with squatting which was said to have been triggered by concerns highlighted by the media about the impact of squatting.

How will it work?

A criminal offence will be committed where:

  • A person is in a residential building as a trespasser having entered it as such
  • The person knows, or ought to know, that they are a trespasser; and
  • The person is living in the building or intends to live there for a period

The offence carries the maximum penalty of six months in prison and a fine of &;pound5,000 or both. The Magistrates Court would hear the case and impose the penalty.

The offence does not cover a situation where a person had lawful permission to occupy the property and outstays their welcome, e.g. at the end of a tenancy or where an occupier remains in the property upon the tenant leaving. In this instance, the person entitled to immediate possession of the property, whether this is a tenant or the landowner would be required to resort to traditional County Court possession proceedings.

Practical difficulties

The requirement that the trespasser 'knows or ought to know that he or she is a trespasser', may cause the police difficulty in deciding whether an individual has entered the property in good faith reasonably believing that they had permission to do so or not. It is possible that some squatters may claim that they were let into the property by a bogus letting agent or 'friend'. It remains to be seen how robust the police will be in dealing with this situation.

Experience suggests that police officers are often unsure of the law in relation to residential occupiers. It therefore remains to be seen whether the new offence of squatting will assist or cause further confusion.

Gail Sykes
Partner & Head of Social Housing
Buckles Solicitors LLP

Squatting is an issue that regularly makes headlines. Although a problem mainly associated with empty homes, landlords can also become victims of squatters – the last thing a landlord wants while they are trying to find new tenants for one of their properties is a group of squatters moving in.

It can be very difficult, time-consuming and expensive for landlords to remove squatters from their properties. Squatters often cause many thousands of pounds worth of damage and have been associated with drug-use and cannabis cultivation, sexual offences and arson. It is almost impossible for landlords to claim damages from squatters due to their limited financial means.

In order to minimise the risk of squatters, we would suggest that any landlord who has an empty property makes it look occupied:

  • Put lights, TVs and radios on timers;
  • Leave curtains and blinds at the windows;
  • Regularly cut any grass and do the garden;
  • Clear mail and rubbish away from any exterior doors;
  • Inform the neighbours that the property is empty and ask them to keep an eye on the property, providing contact details in the event of any suspicious activity; and
  • Most importantly make sure that all doors and windows are locked securely.

As squatting can have a devastating impact on a landlord’s business, it is imperative that there are effective procedures and processes in place to regain possession should squatters move in.

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Dates for your diary……..

(please note attendance at any of the events listed counts towards your continual professional development)
  • Thursday 18 October 2012. Gedling Landlord Forum 6.30 - 8.30pm at the council offices Civic Centre, Arnot Hill Park Arnold, Nottingham NG5 6LU. For further information or to book your place call or email
  • Thursday 18 October 2012. Uncertainty, Changes and Voids What Happened with Student Accommodation over the Summer of 2012 and How Things Will Change in 2013. The Wellcome Collection Conference Centre, 183 Euston Road, NW1 2BE. EMLAS members can use the "Frends" rate with all Unipol courses. Use the link to see more details on this and other training days in the Unipol programme.
  • Tuesday 23 October 2012. The Forum at West Lindsey District Council The Guildhall, Marshall’s Yard, Gainsborough, DN21 2NA, 1.30 - 3.30pm. To register, please email: or phone 01427 675187
  • Monday 29 October 2012. Nottingham NLA branch meeting . 7pm at Holiday Inn Nottingham, Clumber Suite, Castle Marina Park Postcode: NG7 1GX For more information contact the NLA.
  • Tuesday 30 October 2012. The Forum Boston Borough Council, Municipal Buildings, West Street, Boston, PE21 8QR 2-4pm. To register, please email: or phone: 01205 314 548
  • Monday 12th November. EMLAS Landlord Development Day training day for landlords. 9.30 - 4.30pm at the Chamber of Commerce, Northampton Book your place on this free training course for EMLAS members.
  • Thursday 22 November, 12 - 4pm Sherwood Area Landlord Forum taking place at the Ashfield District Council offices, Kirkby-in-Ashfield. For further information or a booking form, call Ashfield District Council on
  • Monday 26th November,NLA Derby Branch Meeting This meeting is FREE and open to all landlords. Venue: Days Hotel Derby, Derbyshire County Cricket Ground, Pentagon Roundabout, Derby, DE21 6DA. Landlords should look to arrive at 6.30pm for 7pm start and we aim to close at 9pm. For more information contact the NLA.
  • 28 & 29 November 2012. .Landlord & Letting Show Stoneleigh Park, Coventry. A comprehensive package of exhibition stands, informative seminars and advice clinic for landlords. Visit the Landlord & Lettings Show to book your free tickets.

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