The Housing Act 2004 and property standards

All homes must be free from disrepair and deficiencies which may cause a serious health risk to the occupants. We are responsible for ensuring that properties meet the necessary standards and they use the Housing Act 2004 and its associated powers to ensure that where necessary homes are improved, with most attention being focussed on rented accommodation.

We use the Housing Health and Safety Rating System to assess hazards within the home and decide which ones need to be resolved.

We always encourage tenants to contact their landlord first in order to resolve any concerns that they may have about the condition of their home. If we are notified of poor housing conditions, we will normally carry out a property inspection and work with the property owner to ensure that necessary repairs are carried out. However we can also use enforcement powers to require these necessary, required works.

Minimum Energy Efficiency of Rented Homes (MEES)

All rented homes need to be provided with fixed heating and adequate levels of thermal insulation to achieve a healthy indoor temperature. What is necessary varies from house to house.

The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015 has now established a minimum level of energy efficiency for all privately rented properties. This means that must ensure that their properties reach at least an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of ‘E’. In other words properties with an ‘F’ or ‘G’ rating shall not be let, unless the landlord can demonstrate that a relevant exemption applies.

Where a landlord believes that an ‘F’ or ‘G’ EPC rated property may qualify for an exemption from the minimum energy efficiency standard, the property  must be registered on the National Private Rented Sector (PRS) Exemptions Register. Landlords who need to register an exemption for a property can do so via the website.

Dorset Council is responsible for enforcing the MEES requirements and we are currently working with landlords and letting agent to achieve compliance with the regulations. Read about our work in our latest report.

The landlord handbook

The Landlord Handbook is a helpful guide specifically for landlords and letting agents to assist with the basic information needed to manage rented accommodation.

The "How to Rent" handbook 

The "How to Rent" handbook is a government approved guide to renting and letting. Designed with both landlords and tenants in mind, it provides a checklist for renting and explains the rights and responsibilities of both parties. From the 1 February 2016 landlords are obliged to provide an up to date copy of this guide to new tenants and those on renewed tenancies.

Houses in multiple occupation

To protect occupants safety and comfort specific legal requirements apply to houses in multiple occupation (HMO).

From the 1 October 2018 legislation requires that all HMOs with five or more occupants, who share a bathroom, toilet or kitchen must be licenced with the local authority. This means that for the first time all single storey and two storey HMO's with five or more occupants are required to be licenced.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detection

From the 1 October 2015 all rented homes should be provided with a smoke detector on each storey where there is living accommodation. Also rented homes that have solid fuel burning appliances must have a carbon monoxide detector in the room where the appliance is situated. Further information is available from your *local housing team* and the Department for Communities and Local Government Q and A Guide.

Fire safety guidance

Find out more information about the fire safety guidelines for various different types of existing housing by downloading our Fire safety guidance document.

Gas safety

All gas appliances provided within a rented property must be checked at least annually by a gas safe registered engineer. The landlord must provide the landlord gas safety certificate to the tenant at the start of the tenancy and within 28 days of each annual gas safety check.

Electrical safety standards

From the 1 of July 2020 it has been a legal requirement that landlords forming new tenancies get the properties electrical installation inspected and tested by a competent electrician. Landlords need to obtain an appropriate written report detailing the electrical installations safety and any recommended improvements. From the 1 April 2021 the new rules will apply to all existing tenancies.

The new legislation requires that:

  • the inspection and test is repeated by a competent electrician at least every 5 years
  • landlords are required to give a copy of the electrical test report to their tenants
  • where the report shows that remedial work or further investigation is necessary, these works must be completed within 28 days.
  • landlords then must obtain written confirmation from their electrician that the remedial works have been completed and within 28 days supply a copy of this document to their tenant and Dorset Council. Confirmation of the completion of remedial works should be sent to Dorset Council using the email 

Further information is available on the website.

Preventing Retaliatory Eviction

Tenants should be free to enquire to the local authority about the condition of their rented home. The government have reinforced this right by limiting a landlord's right to gain possession of their property in certain, specific circumstances. Where a local authority establish that serious health and safety risks exist at a property and subsequent legal action is taken, a landlord will be unable to gain possession of their property for six months. This is designed to protect a tenants security of tenure where they have a genuine complaint about their housing conditions. Further information can be found on the website.

Deposit Protection

If as a landlord you ask the tenant for a deposit, you are required to protect it in a government approved scheme. Some schemes hold the money, and some insure it.

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