Honourable and personal residential letting experts

It has always been best practice to have regular ‘inspections’ of your rental property to make sure it is being looked after by the residents. Historically these were designed as a relatively quick ‘spot check’ property visit. Essentially looking to see if your residents appear to be living within the terms of the tenancy.

The evolving interpretation of the following laws, with growing examples of Owners being challenged for not proactively picking up issues, means to protect Owners and ensure we all meet our responsibilities these ‘inspections’ need to be far more comprehensive.:

Deregulation Act 2015

Deregulation Act 2015

An essential requirement is to have regular inspections of your property to ensure it is being looked after by your residents. There is increasing expectation that if the Owner or their agent have visited the property they ‘should have known’ about any maintenance issues. This is despite the residents’ obligation to report maintenance issues.

Non-Compliance penalty 

Failure to properly maintain your property or address any known issues may prevent you from obtaining a successful eviction.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Amendment Act 2022

We have been ensuring properties we manage have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms since the implementation of the 2015 Regulations. We also adapted for the changes brought about by the 2022 amendment. We obviously make sure alarms are repaired when residents report they are faulty.

However if residents do not check the alarms, or fail to report a fault, there is a risk you could be in breach because you could have “reasonably known” about the issue, e.g. from a property visit.

Non-Compliance penalty

Failure to supply or repair alarms means you are exposed to a fine of up to £5,000 – per ‘breach’ (potentially, each alarm). Also, if there was a fire, your insurers may decide you should have known the alarm was faulty and decide to not cover your claim.

Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) Housing Act 2004– Health and Fitness for Human Habitation Act 2018

These Acts mandate that all properties meet specific health and safety standards, addressing the hazards under HHSRS. This has become increasingly in focus following the terrible Awaab Ishak case, where a 2 year old boy died as a result of mould in his home. The Government have been clear the HHSRS rules were in place to prevent this issue, so the rules should have been enforced. This is becoming an increased focus of local authorities. As a result there have been many articles in the news about damp and mould in rental properties, plus we and other agents have seen an increase in residents ‘blaming’ the property for any damp or mould.

Non-Compliance penalty

Failure to provide a home that meets the standards in the HHSRS could result in ‘substantial fines’ plus legal action and the imposition of Local Authority Improvement Notices, with strict time limits to meet the requirements.

Inspection structure and charging

Due to these augmented responsibilities and to ensure your compliance with the evolving interpretation of the various Regulations, any periodic visits need to specifically address the above points, in addition to taking an overview of whether the residents appear to be complying with the terms of the tenancy.

These “Safety Compliance Visits” obviously take longer than our historic property ‘spot check’ visits. This extra time adds significant costs, in addition to the increased costs for staff training, software, scheduling, oversight and record management.

Therefore to ensure Owners are protected we will replace our existing property ‘spot check’ visits with 6 monthly Safety Compliance Visits at a cost of £126 inc. VAT per visit effective from 1 April 2024. We recommend these new safety compliance visits take place twice a year, reducing to an annual for tenancies longer than three years, where there are no concerns. We will schedule accordingly.

We will complete the first of these in any new tenancy at no charge as part of the tenancy start for all service packages except Self-Manage (previously tenant find service) and Set up and Monitor (previously rent only service) packages.

If you choose the Concierge Service, these visits are not chargeable.

We believe this is crucial to continue to deliver high levels of compliance and safety in light of the evolving situation.

We will no longer deliver the old property ‘spot check’ visits due to the increased risk they create without addressing the safety and compliance issues above.

What if I don’t have Safety Compliance Visits?

This is a matter of balancing risk with cost.

It is widely accepted that routine visits are essential. We’ve taken on many properties with significant problems because there had been no visits, so problems had been missed and allowed to escalate. That is without considering the issues covered by the Safety Compliance Visits detailed above.

We would advise strongly against having no Safety Compliance Visits. However, you may prefer a lower frequency.

We recommend two visits a year for the 1st three years of a tenancy, then reducing to annually, assuming there are no concerns. That will ensure the property is seen in different seasons (crucial for condensation and mould issues, plus checking gutters etc.), plus assess the property in the early years of a tenancy, particularly to pick up on any issues which may be a breach of tenancy.

You may feel comfortable with the risk of these visits at a lower frequency, say annually, or maybe twice a year for the first year or two only of the tenancy.

Frankly it will depend on how the residents live in the property and whether you and we feel there are risks that may cause some claim or external review, such as condensation and mould.

Therefore we believe you should prioritise the Safety Compliance Visits:

  • in the early years of the tenancy
  • when you feel there are concerns, say they are not looking after the property or there are patterns of condensation and mould.
  • when you have not had a Safety Compliance Visit for this tenancy before

We will always schedule these as suggested above, twice per year in the first three years of a tenancy, then annually, unless you advise us you want a different frequency.

If you have any concerns or queries then please get in touch.