Updated Legislation and how Howsy can help

At Howsy, part of our fully managed service is to keep our Landlords updated with changing legislation that may affect their property investments. 

The government has recently released updated regulations regarding the compliance of tenanted properties. In England, The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (Amendment) Regulations 2022 means that from 1st October 2022, all new and existing tenancies require a Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarm in every room with a “fixed combustion appliance”, such as gas heaters, gas boilers, space heaters, and gas or wood burning fires. A draft of the full legislation can be found on the government website, here

The regulations also extend a Landlord’s responsibility to repair smoke or CO alarms during a tenancy once the tenant has reported that they are not working.

Breach for non compliance with this legislation may include fines of up to £5,000 per property and/or the local housing authority serving a remedial notice.

What are we doing to help our landlords?

We have arranged for our network of contractors to be ready to install CO alarms in any properties where our Landlords require them and are unable to install them themselves.

If we are due to inspect the general condition of a property or complete a gas safety certificate, we will also check to see if a CO alarm is required and install them where necessary. The cost of this is £35 to install one alarm and a further £25 for any additional alarms required, inclusive of VAT. 

If there is not an upcoming inspection or gas safety certificate planned, we can arrange a callout to fit the alarm. The cost of this is £60 to install one alarm and a further £25 for any additional alarms required, inclusive of VAT.

Want to work with us?

At Howsy, our team of property managers can take over the management of your tenancies from as little as £59 per month. On instruction, we will work with you to guide you through the hundreds of pieces of legislation that our ARLA qualified team are experts on.

We’d love to talk to you! Please give us a call on 0203 8686 548 or register your interest here, our lettings team can help take the hassle away.

Energy efficiency is a hot topic. 

The Government has set itself some ambitious emissions targets over the next few decades – great news for the planet, but the new rules could create challenges for some landlords.

To meet them, the carbon emissions from all buildings will have to be close to zero by the year 2050. It’s a big leap and in the longer-term properties will have to take their energy efficiency rating up to A. However, in the shorter-term, there are still some serious changes to be made in the private rented sector:

Tables of contents:

  1. Is it a legal requirement to have an EPC?
  2. Do I need to renew an EPC during a tenancy?
  3. How often should an EPC be done?
  4. New guidelines
  5. Getting the EPC
  6. How to boost your EPC rating
  7. Get an EPC performance certificate with Howsy

Yes, it is a legal requirement to have a valid EPC when you let or sell a property.

The document exists to give a clear picture of the energy efficiency rating of your property, giving prospective tenants or potential property owners insight into the potential running costs of the home. Ratings range from A (the best) to G (the worst).

In England and Wales, it is a legal requirement to provide a copy of the EPC to new tenants at the start of each new tenancy before they move into the property (most people provide it when they sign the tenancy agreement). If you have a commercial property, you must display your EPC energy rating somewhere that it is easily visible. In Scotland, it is a legal requirement to display a copy of the EPC in the property.

You can check if your property has an existing EPC (they last for ten years) by checking on the EPC register, a free online database that holds copies of all energy performance certificates. The documents are uploaded by the assessor that carries out the check and are publicly available, and downloadable evidence of a property’s performance rating.

Do I need to renew an EPC during a tenancy? 

The EPC must be made available free of charge at the point the property is marketed. Because the EPC is made available at marketing, this means if you have a tenant in situ and the EPC runs out, it does not need to be renewed until the property is back on market again.

You only need to renew your EPC during a tenancy if the certificate’s ten-year‘ shelf life’ expires during the length of the tenancy, not at the beginning of each tenancy agreement. EPC requirements are not like gas safety checks, they do not have to be carried out annually, so it is unlikely that your tenants will be bothered often by this process.

If you do need to renew your EPC during a tenancy, don’t forget that you need to allow your tenant 24 hours’ notice before entering the rental property, and they are within their rights to deny you access to the home. It is a good idea to make a request via email, so you have evidence that you attempted to gain access, so should you need to highlight that you were unable to gain access, you have evidence that you tried.

How often should an EPC be done?

An EPC lasts for ten years. You can view your current certificate on the EPC register, if you are unsure when the date expires.

However, it is important to consider that if you have had any work done on the property that would be likely to increase the energy efficiency rating, it would be a good idea to have a new EPC carried out, to make sure that your certification reflects your property’s current EPC rating standards.

New guidelines

What are MEES?

Developed from a package of policies including the infamous Green Deal, the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) was introduced in March 2015.

Designed to tackle poor energy performance in private rented properties, the new regulations really came into force on 1st April 2018, when a minimum standard of band E was introduced to the rented sector, meaning it was no longer possible to renew existing tenancies or grant a new tenancy if the property has an EPC rating of F or G. On 1st April 2020, the changes will be extended across all existing tenancies. If your property falls below the E rating, you must either look to improve the rating, register an exemption or sell the property, thus removing it from the rented market.

How do you comply?

In order to comply with MEES, you have to show that you are attempting to make all changes necessary to bring it up to the required level. A cost cap of £3,500 (including VAT) has been introduced, to limit the amount that landlords are expected to spend on improvements. Any changes that have been made since 1st October 2017 can be included in this cost.

If you are unable to make our property meet the E banding for £3,500 or less, you should make as many improvements as you can for that amount- keeping clear evidence of the changes you have made and how much they have cost – then look to register an exemption.

Some funding may be available through schemes managed by your local authority, which can be used to fully fund or top up self-funding.

Registering an exemption

There are cases when it is simply not possible to increase a property to the minimum standards required. Non-compliance with MEES regulations can be an expensive mees-take.

Penalties operate on a sliding scale, with fines set at 10% of the property’s rateable value for the first three months of non-compliant letting (with a minimum penalty of £5,000 and a maximum of £50,000) before moving up to 20% of the rentable value after three months (with a minimum penalty of £10,000 and a maximum of £150,000).

With such hefty penalty notices to consider, it is important to register an exemption if you don’t think you are going to be able to reach the right requirements.

Exemptions include:

  • ‘All relevant improvements made’ exemption: you’ve spent up to the required amount (£3,500) and the property is still below band E. This exemption lasts five years.
  • ‘High cost’ exemption: No improvements can be made, as even the cheapest measure would be over £3,500. Three quotes from qualified installers are required. This exemption lasts five years.
  • ‘Wall insulation’ exemption: If the only improvements to your property are cavity, external or internal wall insulation.


  • You have obtained written evidence from an expert highlighting that these measures would have a negative impact on the structure of the building. This exemption lasts five years.
  • ‘Third-party consent’ exemption: If the relevant changes need approval from a third party, such as a tenant or freeholder, and this cannot be gained. This exemption lasts for five years, or, if the tenant consent is the issue until the tenancy ends – whichever is soonest.
  • ‘Property devaluation’ exemption: If making changes will devalue the property by more than 5%. This must be supported by a report from an independent surveyor. This exemption lasts five years.
  • ‘Temporary exemption due to recently becoming a landlord’: If you have taken over the property in the past six months, you have a short grace period in which to take action or register another exemption.  

You can register an exemption here.

How it differs around the UK 

Landlords in England and Wales are required to comply with the MEES regulations, failing to do so could land them in real hot water. However, it’s not the same all over the UK.

Landlords in Scotland are not impacted by the MEES legislation, although commercial landlords north of the border do have to consider similar legislation when working on the energy efficiency management of their properties. Section 63 of the Climate Change Act Scotland 2009 required building owners to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions across commercial buildings.

How do I get an EPC?

Making sure you are shouting from the (well insulated) rooftops about your property’s energy efficiency is vital, especially as more and more tenants are looking to ‘green living’ and lower energy bills as a key feature in their property search.

But making sure you make the most out of your EPC isn’t as simple as you may think. Your property will be inspected by a qualified domestic energy assessor, who will judge the property against a set of pre-set parameters.

However, there are some top tips to make sure that your assessor is seeing everything your property has to offer, ensuring that your final report accurately highlights your property:

  • Make sure your loft hatch is open and the ladder is down: assessors are not allowed to ‘explore’ and can only grade on the evidence that they can see. They don’t know your loft is fully insulated if you don’t show them!
  • Provide evidence of recent work, including invoices and receipts – this is an unarguable proof that the work has been done in line with the epc regulations.
  • Much as it may drive you crazy, don’t rush to paint over the evidence of cavity wall insulation as soon as the installers drive away. The little holes in the exterior walls are vital proof of the activity, and are great for an assessor to see!

Once the check is complete, the assessor will compile an EPC report for you, and produce your EPC.  The main certificate will be added to the register, and the report will be sent to you – most will have suggestions of energy efficiency improvements that you could make.

How to boost your EPC rating

There are many things you can do as a landlord to push this rating up.

Cheap switches

  • Light bulbs: Switching halogen or non-low energy light bulbs to LED alternatives is a cheap and simple switch
  • Pipe lagging: Easy to install, slipping lagging around any visible metal pipes will give you a big green tick when your assessor comes knocking
  • Boiler jackets: If you have a stand-alone hot water tank, a cosy jacket (available online or in DIY stores) is a great way to prevent heat escaping.
  • Green showers: A power shower is a big selling point for many tenants, so why not offer a water-saving one too? Cheap to buy and easy to fit, a win-win for everyone!

Medium changes

  • Loft and roof insulation: relatively simple to install yourself, or cost effective through a scheme, this has a huge impact on heating efficiency
  • Replace white goods: Replacing old appliances such as fridges and washing machines with more efficient upgrades will help save a bundle on energy bills

Investments for the long term

  • Double glazing: Double, or even triple, glazed windows are a brilliant way to keep a home cosy, and are a huge selling point too.
  • Cavity wall insulation: Not viable for all, but a useful undertaking if possible, cavity wall insulation fills the gaps between the outer and inner skin of your property with foam or filler, adding a layer of insulation and warmth.

Get an EPC performance certificate with Howsy

When you join Howsy, EPC certificates are among the list of add-ons you can get on top of our standard service. If you don’t have the time to deal with getting an EPC yourself, we will do it for you for £78 inc VAT. We track EPC expiry dates as part of our property management service, and we will send you notifications to let you know when your EPCs and gas safety certificates are about to expire. You can deal with the renewal process yourself, or we can do it for you.  

We are delighted to announce the acquisition of The Happy Tenant Company. 🎉

This is our third such acquisition in the last 18 months. With more than 8,000 properties on our platform to date, this latest acquisition further cements our position as one of the leading players in the online lettings space and demonstrates our plans for ambitious growth over the coming months. 

As a business, The Happy Tenant Company already shares our ambitions to make the rental market a better place for landlords. Happy Tenant Company was created in 2012 and founded by landlords who felt there needed to be massive changes to the way that properties were managed by letting agencies. 

Extortionate maintenance fees and excessive markups by letting agencies had been the main drive to create The Happy Tenant Company. The Happy Tenant Company’s mission is to have total transparency and integrity first by having fixed fees for landlords and passing benefits back to members. 

“The founders of The Happy Tenant Company have built a great business. Their brand values and ethos align with those of Howsy and we’re confident we can offer a greater selection of services for Happy Tenant customers to further enhance their experience,” says Calum Brannan, founder and CEO of Howsy. 

With winter fast approaching, now is the time to think about doing some roof maintenance checks on your property to ensure your tenants keep warm and cosy over the colder months.  

It’s recommended that you carry out two inspections each year – in Spring and Autumn (before the snow sets in). This is so you can have time to check and see how the roof is doing and pre-empt any larger scale problems before they occur. Often damage can occur before it’s noticeable and before any mold or leaks occur. So doing some roof maintenance can ensure you’ve got this covered before waiting for something drastic to happen.

If your roof isn’t properly maintained, water can infiltrate into your attic, damage insulation, wood framing and structural steel. This can cause the design and look of the property to drastically change – so long curb appeal! 

Maintaining your roof and doing checks upfront acts as a way to prevent any larger scale roof emergencies, making the house safe for those living there. Ensuring your roof is in good condition will ultimately give you peace of mind and help to prevent the need for a full scale roof rebuild, saving costs in the long run. 

How to do roof maintenance checks 

Here are some of the ways you can carry out roof checks to make sure your roof stays in good condition. You can do these checks from the ground up or you can get up on a ladder and get in there and take a look. Just be careful not to lean your ladder on the guttering as you could break it. If you do get on the roof, do so only if you feel safe or you have the proper safety equipment such as an extension ladder, safety harness, 700kg breaking strain rope and soft shoes with grip. 

  1. Clean out gutters, as clogged gutters can cause rain and snow to not be able to drain properly. Clearing out a gutter is fairly easy and it’s just a case of removing leaves and moss. 
  2. Roof algae can cause your roof to age and cause black streaks which doesn’t exactly give your property curb appeal. If you see green, get it cleaned. 
  3. Trim your trees to prevent them overgrowing, resting or falling on the roof. Keep branches trimmed and remove from the gutter. 
  4. Pay attention to shingles. Look for any curling in a shingle, as that indicates moisture has made its way to its interior. A shingle with any damage should be replaced immediately to avoid leaks or further structural damage. 
  5. Check for any damaged roof tiles or ones that have slipped and are out of position. If they have slipped, you can pick them up and just re-adjust them, making sure all the tiles around are firmly placed down. 
  6. Check inside your home, if you see any damp on the ceilings or up the side of an internal wall, then it’s likely you have a problem with the roof. If you see daylight through the roof boards then you need a repair.
  7. Look for sagging. Your roof should follow a straight line along a ridge. If it doesn’t and it looks like there’s a dip this could be the result of too much weight on the roof from snow and this could result in the roof collapsing. 
  8. Flashing – check your roof for flashing damage. This is the material, usually made from aluminium around the chimney, skylights and roof vents which directs water away from critical areas of the roof. Look for any rust that may have appeared as this indicates there’s damage to the material. 
  9. Think about your energy bills. Are they higher than normal? This could be due to air leaking from the roof and the heat escaping. 
  10. Check for any cracked mortar or caulking around the joints and chimneys must be sealed.

Hopefully these checks will help to keep your roof in good condition and give you ultimate peace of mind you’ll have a secure and warm home over the colder months. 

The lettings landscape is always changing and for landlords it can be difficult to keep up with changes in legislation. The most recent change to the rental sector is how right to rent checks are done during the pandemic. We’ve put together the below blog to help you keep up to date and compliant as a landlord during this time. 

What is right to rent?

The right to rent scheme, implemented by the Home Office, is there to ensure landlords check that the tenants living in their properties have legal status to live in the UK. The Home Office introduced Right to Rent checks as a deterrent to those looking to seek to live in England illegally. Only those who are able to live in the UK have a right to rent. 

Who needs to carry out a right to rent check?

Before a landlord or letting agent can rent out a home in England, they are required to check a potential tenant’s passport and complete the necessary immigration checks. Anyone who is also a live-in landlord renting out part of the house or a tenant subletting one of the rooms out in the property, should also carry out these checks. If a tenant fails to help and doesn’t want to comply with a check being carried out, they could face being reported. 

Who is subject to a right to rent check?

Since 1st February 2016, any tenant in England that is renting a property must prove that they have legal status to live in the country.  You must check all new tenants. It’s against the law to only check people who you think aren’t British Citizens. 

Who doesn’t need a right to rent check?

You don’t have to check tenants that are moving in to the following accommodation:

  • social housing
  • a care home, hospice or hospital
  • a hostel or refuge
  • a mobile home
  • student accommodation
  • local authority accommodation
  • Housing provided as part of their job 
  • Property with a lease that’s 7 years or longer

How is a right to rent check done?

A landlord or letting agent must carry out the following:

  • From a list of acceptable identification documents, an original document must be checked to make sure the tenant has the right to live in the UK legally. This could include a UK/EU passport and a permanent residence card or travel document showing indefinite leave to remain.
  • Anyone 18 or older that’s living in the property, also needs to be checked, even if they aren’t on the tenancy. 
  • These documents must be copied for reference purposes and be securely stored and the original documents returned once the check is complete.

Checks always had to be carried out face to face with all prospective occupiers using original documents. Yet due to Covid 19, there have been changes in the way documents are verified.

How Covid-19 has changed the right to rent check

Checks now don’t need to be done face to face. Due to the pandemic and the need for social distancing where possible, these checks can be done via a video link. To verify a tenant’s photographic I.D, the tenant can just hold this up next to their face during the video call so the landlord or letting agent can confirm who they are. A scanned copy of the document then needs to be sent electronically by the tenant to the landlord so they have this on file. 

However, as the key to the property is usually handed over in person, this means that the verification process could still technically be done face to face but socially distanced. Where once the verification must be done face to face, the checks now allow for verification virtually. 

This means landlords and letting agents can still complete the appropriate checks needed. By adapting to the current climate, landlords can still ensure they can let out properties and still be compliant.

Am I legally able to change letting agent?

Yes, as a landlord, you have a right to decide who is the best letting agent to manage your property needs.

If you aren’t happy with the service you are receiving, you have found someone who offers a package that you prefer, or costs have crept up, you are perfectly within your rights to jump ship and move to an agent who better fits the bill.

However, it is important to remember that an agreement between a landlord and a letting agent is a legal document, so it is important to follow the correct steps if you choose to make the change.

Are there any legal issues to consider when I switch letting agent?

When you enter into a relationship with a letting agent, you will sign a contract outlining the details of the relationship. Whilst these contracts are designed to continue on a rolling basis, there are opportunities to remove yourself from the contract if you choose to.

This clause, usually called the termination clause, should give you details of how you have to notify your agent of your intention to terminate the contract, and the notice you have to give. The clause is similar in principle to a break clause in a tenancy agreement, in so much as it gives either party the opportunity to break the contract early without repercussions, as long as certain rules are followed.

Termination clauses vary agent-to-agent, so check your contract for yours. If you are still unsure, we are happy to have a look for you – pop it over to our team at [email protected], and we’ll check though it and let you know exactly where you stand.

How do I do it?

  • Check your contracts: Check your contract for your termination clause and see how you can exit the contract without repercussions.
  • Give official notice: Send your agent official notice that you would like to terminate your contract. The best way to do this is in writing, so that they have evidence that you have done so.
  • Build a paper trail: In the same way that a paper trail is important when it comes to managing tenant disputes, it is vital to document every stage of this process carefully. Once you have notified your letting agent of your decision to remove yourself from the agreement in writing, continue to document every move every step of the way to give a clear timeline of your actions throughout the procedure.
  • Refresh your paperwork: Ensure you have all of the relevant paperwork for the property that the outgoing agent holds, that you may need copies of. This includes copies of your EPC, gas safety certification, inventory, tenancy agreement, deposit protection details etc.
  • Notify your tenant: You should let your tenants know exactly what is going on. Your agent has an obligation to do so, and it is important that you engage with them too.
  • Engage with a new agent: If you are looking to engage with a new agent, make sure you do so in plenty of time. This will give your new agent a chance to liaise with your previous agent and make sure that any important information is passed across and no details are forgotten.
  • Collect your keys: At the end of the notice period, don’t forget to collect any keys that the agent may be holding for your property. If you have alarms or key boxes at the property, it is good practice to reset the codes.
  • Obtain final sign off documents: When your notice period is complete, make sure you receive a document from your outgoing agent to confirm that the contract has been terminated and that the contract has ended. This should confirm that all fees are paid, and that you no longer have any relationship with the agency.

Will it cost me anything to change letting agent?

If you give adequate notice to your agent and abide by the terms of your contract, you should be able to leave the agreement on an even financial keel.

If you have experienced bad practice from an agent, and they have failed to deliver on the terms of the contract that you signed, you may be able to exit the contract early and get any early-exit fees waived. If you believe that your agent has failed to fulfil the terms of their agreement, you can contact Citizens Advice to discuss the case. It is up to you as a landlord to prove that the agent has failed to provide an adequate service, so it is important to have good evidence and clear information ready if you are looking to go down this route. The team at Howsy are happy to advise on exactly what service a good agency should be providing, so give us a call on 0330 999 1234 if you’re unsure whether or not this could be an option for you.

If your property is under management, you may find that your agent has a clause in their contract that states that you are required to pay management charges as long as the tenant (that was found by the original agent) continues to occupy the property. Generally, a very dim view is taken on any clauses that tie an individual into a contract and do not give them any ability to leave. If your contract contains a clause like this, our team can help advise you. Give us a call today on 0330 808 1079

Do I have to give notice to terminate the agreement with my letting agent?

Yes. A termination clause will generally have a notice period of one to two months; however, this may vary depending on your agent. It is important to check your contract carefully and make sure that you are clear on this timeframe.

Could switching letting agents mid-contract impact my tenants?

If you choose to switch agents, there is no need for this decision to have any impact on any existing tenants. Keeping a good relationship with your tenants is key – you can read more about it here.

It is important to remember that there are two contracts to consider here – your contract between you and your letting agent (the one being contested), and the tenancy agreement between you and your tenant. Whilst this important legal document may have been prepared for you by your agent, it is between you and your tenant – and shouldn’t be in contest at this stage.

In order to make sure that the change-over doesn’t have any wider effects, there are some points that you should be sure to consider:

  • Make sure you have all of your tenant’s contact details. You should have this anyway, but make sure that the details you have are up to date, and that your tenant’s contact details haven’t changed from those that you already hold.
  • Ensure you have all of the relevant paperwork for the property that the existing agent holds, that your tenant may need copies of (you will need all of this paperwork anyway!)
  • Make sure your tenant has contact details of the new agent, and a way to contact them should they need to. It would be wise to send a clear email with details about what is going on, with all the relevant details so that is in one place.
  • If the agent has managed the deposit for you, make sure that this has been transferred and protected again, either under your name or that of your new agent. Don’t forget that once you have re-protected the deposit, you will have to issue Prescribed Information again to everyone who has contributed to the deposit (including guarantors).
  • Ask your new agent to draw up a new tenancy agreement, providing the details of the new letting agent as soon as possible. This isn’t the time to be making big changes to the agreement, just amend the contact details.

Can my new letting agent handle this process?

Yes, much of this can be handled by your new agent. Here at Howsy, we help our new landlords with this process as much as possible. Of course, you have to make the first step in letting your existing agent know that you are looking to leave, but once that is done, we can take over in managing the rest of the process.

We understand it can be daunting to consider jumping ship, but it needn’t be. Your property is a huge asset, and you need to be confident that the very best people are looking after it.

If you’re considering switching letting agents, simply complete this form to see how we can help and start the process. Switch today and save money tomorrow.

The Coronavirus pandemic has been worrying and stressful on so many levels. The worry of keeping yourself and your loved ones safe from a harmful virus is enough. Yet, combining this with lockdown and too many life changes overnight, losing your job can just add to the ever growing stress, worry and loneliness. 

The government has had a blanket approach so far in financially helping people, by offering some companies the option to furlough existing staff and offering to pay 80% of salaries through PAYE. Yet some people have slipped through the net, with companies pulling roles and not being able to furlough staff if they’re not on the payroll in time. Some HR departments have said that furloughing staff can cause a range of issues for them with time and resources. Other companies just simply haven’t done it and made redundancies.  

Freelancers and companies can get government grants, however this hasn’t covered everyone. Thousands of individuals have been left looking for jobs at a time when things have stood still.

This has left people without adequate financial help and the only other support has been Universal Credit/job seekers allowance. If people are renting, often the housing benefit doesn’t cover the cost of the rental amount and so this needs to be topped up with Universal Credit. This doesn’t leave much room for Council Tax (even with a reduction), bills and food. For some renters, they’ve had to make the decision between paying rent and affording food. 

The economic impact of lockdown has hit people unequally but it has caused immediate impacts on mental health. The Mental Health Foundation reports that  “a quarter reported not coping well with the stress of the pandemic (twice as many as those in employment), almost half were worried about not having enough food to meet basic needs.”

Credit: Mark Oliver Paquin

First steps to take 

  1. If Housing Benefit or Universal Credit doesn’t cover all of your rent and you need more money, you could make a claim for a discretionary housing payment (DHP). A DHP is extra money from your local council to help pay your rent. 
  2. You could also look to get a council tax reduction if you haven’t already done it here.
  3. Check out the benefits calculator too,  to see if there is any additional support you can get. 
  4.  4. You may also be able to speak to your utilities company and try and get a payment plan to help with the costs, discover more.

Speak to your landlord

If you’re unable to get additional financial help and still you’re struggling to pay your rent, speak to your landlord as soon as possible. Please let them know what your situation is and that you’re struggling. They may be able to come to an arrangement. Perhaps you could pay half of your rent and then when you’re back on your feet, you can increase it over the coming months. Landlords would rather know the situation than receive radio silence and then no money at the end of the month. Your landlord may even be able to have a mortgage break and then pass this break on to you. 

If you aren’t able to come to an agreement with your landlord, get in touch with Citizens Advice who can signpost you to a range of help and advice. 

Credit: Co-worker

Speak to housemates

If you’re a lodger in a property, then speak to your live-in landlord and see if you could take on some additional work to lower your rent like cleaning. If you live with other housemates too, look to club together to buy food to help reduce your costs. Perhaps see if you could distribute the rent amongst yourselves differently to help each other out – if others are in a more stable position.  

Can I be evicted if I can’t keep up with the repayments?

Your landlord can’t evict you if you don’t keep up with your rental payments as there is now a tenant eviction ban in place until 31st March 2020. Your landlord will have to give you six months notice to leave. This doesn’t apply where there is domestic abuse or anti-social behaviour within a property. 

If domestic abuse is occurring within a property that you are in, get in touch with the National Domestic Abuse helpline. If you’re in life threatening trouble, ring 999 and if once dialed you can’t speak, press 55. 

We would strongly urge tenants to seek as much financial support as they can get and to be open and honest with their landlord about their current situation. 

We understand that dealing with financial worries can result in a range of issues and if you are struggling with your mental health as a result, please check out these links for advice and support.

Finding the right tenants is so important for a landlord. Ultimately you want to trust the people that are living in your investment. The last thing you want are disputes with tenants, not receiving rent or damages to your property. According to Property Investor Today, “The most common causes for tenant disputes are delayed rent (43%), damage to property (41%), cleanliness (33%), disputes over bills or deposits (10%), pets (9%) and sub-letting (7%)” 

If you’ve spent a lot of time, effort and money to get your home up to a high standard to be let, ideally you’ll want tenants to keep it that way.  On average, data from LV=Gl revealed the average landlord spends over £3,000 a year on general maintenance. Landlords spend the most money replacing/repairing flooring (£322), white goods (£298), other items (£256), cleaning at the end of a tenancy (£178) and removing forgotten items (£149). You could end up making a loss if there are numerous damages beyond the general wear and tear. 

For many landlords, renting a property is vital for pension income, an additional salary or to cover other living costs. You’ll also ideally want to have tenants that you know will pay you each month, on time and won’t mess you around.

If you do find that your rental income isn’t secure, you can guarantee your rent with the Howsy Protect plan

What tenants do you want? 

There are various ways to find tenants. Sometimes people look to family and friends to rent out properties and it’s ideal if you know you can rely on them to look after your place. Yet there isn’t always that option to find someone you know and trust, so you’re left seeking out tenants. 

Consider the type of tenants you want. Do you want tenants on a short term let? Are you going travelling and want to let your property out for a short period of time. Do you want tenants that are in it for the long haul and want a property to really make their home. Would you rather have:

  • Professionals and want to rent out per room?
  • A family
  • Students
  • A couple

This can then help you gauge where to advertise your property. 

How to market your property

Get your property online

In order to attract tenants, utilise websites such as Rightmove, Zoopla, On the Market and Facebook marketplace to advertise your property. Look at having a premium listing on RightMove to help you gain more potential renters. 

Take decent photos

Ensure your property is well photographed and the property is looking at its best before you take the images. Declutter your home and let some natural light through. It can be difficult for tenants to look past the clutter to imagine themselves living in that home. Also, de-personalise your home. Take out personal items in the bedroom and bathroom and clean up dirty dishes in the kitchen, store photos and any ornaments or childrens toys. 

Although you can take images on your smartphone, the images don’t always do your property justice, particularly in small spaces such as a study or a bathroom. It’s worth investing in some professional photography to help take attractive photos. A rental property listing with good quality images will be let 70% faster. For further tips, discover our blog on using photography to market your property.

360 virtual tours

Having a virtual tour can give potential tenants a great insight into what your property is like and can encourage them to get in touch for a viewing. During the Coronavirus pandemic, virtual tours have been really valuable in showcasing a property. This has enabled landlords to still let their property. 

How to screen tenants

Once you’ve had interest in your property, it’s a good idea to screen your potential tenants and carry out some background checks. 

  • Character assessment – Try and meet your tenants in person and go with your gut instinct. Speak to them and get to know them and this will help you gauge what they could be like as tenants. If you can’t meet, perhaps get a character reference. 
  • Landlord reference – Ask their current landlord if they’re reliable and pay rent on time. 
  • Employment reference –  gain further information on whether they will be able to afford to rent the property too. You could ask for bank statements or other evidence for proof of income. Alternatively, it may be worth asking if they have a guarantor to fall back on if they’re unable to pay their rent at any point. 
  • Do a credit check 
  • Do they have pets? Is there anything that could be a deal breaker?
  • Are they smokers? 

Finding tenants can be time consuming. If you do want help finding tenants, Howsy can look after the whole end to end process. From viewings to photography and advertising your property, discover our ‘Rent it Faster (Pay Later)’ plan to help accelerate the letting process. Once we’ve found tenants, our dedicated concierge team will fully screen them and carry out reference checks. Speak to our friendly team for more information.  

One of the main causes of electrical fires in the home is faulty and/or old wiring. Landlords can directly reduce the risk of a fire damaging or even destroying their property by regularly checking the condition of the wiring, fuse board, etc. This is where an electrical condition report (EICR) comes in.

Part of HMO and Scottish landlord’s safety checklist for years, EICRs are nothing new, however a recent change in legislation has now switched on the legal requirement for all landlords in England too, no matter the size of your property.

What is an EICR?

An EICR is the document issued, following an in-depth inspection and test to check the condition of the electrical installations (electrical outlets, wiring and consumer units) in a property against the national safety standard for electrical installations. It also picks up any potential safety issues. Think of it as a MOT for the electrics, if you will.

The checks must be carried out by a professional electrician, and the EICR issued by them. If passed, an EICR gives the green light to keep using the electrics in the property as they are. Which explains why they’re often asked for at the start of a new rental tenancy.

Any faults will be listed on the report, along with an explanation of why that electrical system failed the EICR. The faults will also be graded:

  • Code 1 or C1 means ‘Danger is present’, risk of injury is likely and IMMEDIATE action is required. The electrician will fix these there and then or at least make them safe before arranging to return to correct them.
  • C2 means ‘potentially dangerous’ and remedial action is needed urgently, which the electrician can quote for.
  • C3 means improvement to your electrical system is recommended, but not required because they see it’s safe. It’s the only code that can appear on a report that’s passed the EICR test.

Make sure your electrician is correctly qualified. They should be NIC EIC-accredited at approved contractor level. Or approved by another electrical regulatory body at a similar or higher level, which you can easily check on the Electrical Safety Register.

How much do they cost?

The cost of an electrical safety check depends very much on the size of your property – there is no simple one-price-fits-all answer. You can expect to pay anywhere from £160 for a one bedroom flat, rising to around £250 for a five-bedroom property. Of course, the larger the property, the higher the price tag. Your engineer will have to closely examine the safety of cover all electrical outlets, wiring and consumer units, so the price reflects the hard work that goes in to producing this important safety document.

What is tested?

In general, your electrician will check that:

  • your fuse board is safe and compliant with the current regulations.
  • Everything is correctly earthed – to prevent potentially fatal electric shock.
  • The wiring in your sockets, lights, switches and accessories is installed correctly.

What if there’s an issue?

If your engineer’s report flags up any issues with the electrical condition of your property, you are duty bound to act immediately, to guarantee the safety of your tenants, and other residents in the property’s surrounding yours.

Work should be carried out quickly, by a qualified electrician to bring the property up to standard. The engineer should provide written evidence on completion, detailing the work that has been carried out, and that the required standards have now been met. Once you have this evidence in writing, you should provide it to your tenants as proof that the property is now safe, and meeting all of the appropriate requirements.

Local authorities have the power to arrange remedial action is repairs and improvements are not acted on swiftly, you have up to 28 days to get work underway. Failure to do this can lead to the council carrying out emergency remedial work on the property on the landlord’s behalf, and presenting the landlord with the bill!

Is an EICR a legal requirement?

Landlords in Scotland, and HMO landlords across the UK will already be familiar with the requirements to carry out EICR checks. However. Following a change to the law this month, the new Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 states that it is now a legal requirement for all rented properties in England to have a valid Electrical Condition report in place from July 1st 2020 at the start of a new tenancy.

Just as you would a gas safety check, you must ensure that your property has undergone a complete inspection, by a compliant engineer, and the relevant paperwork is supplied to all of your new tenants before they occupy the property. Subsequent checks must be supplied to all tenants within 28 days of completion. Once complete, the check is valid for five years, and can be supplied to subsequent tenants. There is no need to have a new check at the start of each new tenancy (within the five years validity window).

By April 1st 2021, the rules will apply to all tenancies, new or existing. If you have tenants in situ, you must still ensure that you carry our an EICR check, and supply the documentation to them within 28 days of the check being completed.

It is worth noting that if a prospective tenant requests a copy of the EICR, you must also provide this within 28 days. Additionally, if your local authority requests a copy, you only have a seven day window in which to provide them with the relevant documentation.

What are the penalties for failing to comply?

Failing to comply with the new regulations could hit landlords hard.

After 1st July, if you do not carry out an EICR before a tenancy commences, you could find yourself facing a hefty fine of up to £30,000, issued by your local Housing Authority.

How often does it need to be done?

There are no strict guidelines. Both campaigning charity Electrical Safety First and the Institution of Electrical Engineers recommend that private landlords get a new EICR done with every change of occupancy, or every five years, whichever is soonest.