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					                                             Contents


1.0     Introduction                                                          1

2.0     Landlords legal responsibilities and property standards
2.1     Electricity                                                           2
2.2     Furnishings                                                           2
2.3     Gas                                                                   2
2.4     Property standards                                                    3
        Quick guide to determine which category of HMO
        and means of escape from fire applies to your property                4
        Summary of standards of amenity and fitness for habitation for HMOs   5-6
        Means of escape from fire for category B HMOs - low risk properties   7
        Means of escape from fire for category A or B HMOs -
        medium to high risk properties                                        8-9
        Guide to the management regulations                                   10-11

Contracts                                                                     12

Rents, retainers and deposits                                                 13

Council tax                                                                   14

Insurance                                                                     15

Inventories                                                                   15

The voluntary code of standards                                               16

Most common problems                                                          17-18

Acknowledgements                                                              19

Disclaimer                                                                    19

Useful contact numbers                                                        20
                                                      Introduction

This information pack is intended as a guide for landlords renting or thinking of renting property to students at St
Martin‟s College. The advice in it is based upon current legal requirements and on the College‟s long experience in
housing matters and landlord/student relationships.

The Accommodation Section employs experienced, full-time staff whose role is to assist students looking for and living
in accommodation in the private rented sector. This includes providing advice and information to landlords who list their
properties with the College.

Before a house or flat can be added to the College‟s database, it must be accredited with the local council. The College
also operates a voluntary code of standards. The points in the code have been chosen to reflect a set of common
sense obligations and responsibilities. They are achievable without significant expenditure of time and money and
without prejudice to legal rights and we request that you sign up to these standards.
Following successful accreditation of the property, the College will send you a Property Record Card to complete to
register the property. The College will insist that all statutory requirements for renting accommodation have been
complied with. If you want to add your property to the Colleges‟ Accommodation list, contact one of the Accommodation
Officers who will explain in detail what is required.

To register, the College charges a fee to landlords of £40 for the first property accommodating up to six students and
£25 for each additional property (or each additional six students). The fee covers administration only and the College
cannot guarantee the provision of tenants. We regret also, we cannot add properties to our list unless this fee has been
paid in full. The fee is payable initially on registration and each January thereafter. The College is not providing any
form of letting agency service and it is entirely for each landlord to satisfy themselves as to the suitability of any
students seeking accommodation.

The College may also carry out a visit to assess the suitability of the property. If we visit the property on your request
there is a non-returnable Visit Charge of £20 for the first house/flat and £10 for each additional house/flat
Please note that if during a visit a property is found to be well below the minimum standard, we will be duty bound to
inform the relevant City Council. As well as having a rolling-programme of visiting all registered properties every three
years, we will also visit properties by request from students where they are experiencing problems. This will be done by
arrangement with the students and we will write to you of our findings. If the problems continue, the students will be
advised to contact the relevant City Council.
                             Landlord’s Legal Responsibilities and Property Standards


In the main, students seek good quality, affordable, centrally heated, furnished houses that they can share with others
and which are close to the College campus. The property must be in a good state of repair and decoration. It must also
conform to all current legislation, details of which are set out below. Central heating, whilst not essential, is becoming a
priority with students. All rooms must have some form of heating. Additional facilities such as washing machines,
microwaves, freezers, burglar alarms and so on do help to make the property more attractive and are becoming the
norm in student housing. For a full list of required facilities, refer to the Student Accommodation Service Inventory
Form or telephone for advice.

Properties situated close to the College are always the most popular. If you are thinking of buying a property specifically
for student letting, it is advisable to ask the Student Accommodation Service for advice as some areas of Lancaster are
becoming increasingly unpopular.

All properties must be fit for human habitation and free from substantial repair. They must be structurally sound and be
substantially free from dampness so that neither the personal comfort nor the health and safety of the occupier is
prejudiced. This includes dampness caused by a missing or defective damp proof course, any form of disrepair or
condensation.

Gas
Legislation requires that the gas supply and all gas appliances are checked at least every l2 months. This must be
carried out by a Council of Registered Gas Installers (CORGI) engineer and a Gas Safety Certificate issued. A copy of
the Certificate must be issued to each tenant before he/she moves into the property. New copies must be provided if
the certificate expires during the tenancy. If appliances are repaired or replaced during the tenancy, a supplementary
certificate must be provided. Gas appliances should have clear instructions (and warnings as appropriate) to ensure
safe use. It is advisable to fit a carbon monoxide detector such as the one recommended by British Gas (leaflets are
available from Student Accommodation Services).

Electricity
When renting accommodation, you are by law, considered to be a supplier of electricity. You therefore need to ensure
that the electrical wiring, installations and appliances that you have provided are safe and an Electrical Safety
Certificate must be obtained from an NICEIC or an ECA approved electrical contractor. Electrical appliances must
comply with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations (l994). These Regulations apply to all electrical equipment
new or second hand including domestic electrical appliances. The Regulations came into force on 1st January l997.
The Student Accommodation Service advises that the electrical wiring and installations in the property are checked and
certified every 5 years and appliances checked every year preferably before the beginning of each new tenancy.

 Furnishings
All upholstered furniture, including mattresses, three-piece suites, cushioned headboards and chairs, must conform to
the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations (1993). Permanent labels should state that the items comply
with these Regulations. These labels are usually on the base or sewn under cushions. It is illegal to provide non-
compliant furniture and penalties can be very severe.

Property Standards
Most student accommodation will be classed as a Category B House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and bedsits as a
Category A HMO. To determine which Category of HMO and Means of Escape from Fire will apply to your property,
please refer to the flowchart overleaf. A summary of the standards of amenity and fitness for habitation then follows. It
is not a complete statement of all the Regulations and Standards. Further details and advice can be obtained from the
Neighbourhood Renewal Section at Lancaster City Council.
                           Quick guide to determine which category of HMO and
                            Means of Escape from Fire applies to your property

                             Is the property wholly occupied or let to one person,
                                            a couple or one family?

                                             Yes              No

Not an HMO but standards                                                              Property is an HMO
 of amenity and fitness
        will apply                                                         Are any of the rooms bedsits i.e.
                                                                          cooking facilities within the room?

                                                                                     Yes             No

Category A HMO and Means of Escape
  from Fire - Medium to High Risk                                         Is the property occupied or let to six
          Properties applies                                                         or more people?

                                                                                     Yes             No

Category B HMO and Means of Escape
  from Fire - Medium to High Risk                                     Are any occupiers vulnerable i.e. over 60,
          Properties applies                                          under 10, mentally or physically impaired,
                                                                      mentally ill or depressed, on medication
                                                                           and known substance abusers?

                                                                              Yes               No


                                                                      Is the property associated with a business
                                                                             e.g. over a shop or take-away?

                                                                              Yes               No


                                                                       Is the property on more than two floors or
                                                                      does it have a basement/cellar (regardless of
                                                                          whether in use or not) or attic room?

                                                                               Yes                   No


                                                                      Is the height between the ground floor and
                                                                      first floor landing more than 4.5 metres?

                                                                               Yes                   No


                                                             Category B HMO and Means of Escape from
                                                                  Fire - Low Risk Properties applies


    Please now refer to the relevant Category of HMO and Means of Escape from Fire for what is required
                             Summary of standards of amenity and fitness for habitation for Houses in Multiple Occupation

HMO Category                                  Category A -                                Category B -                                Non HMO -
                             Houses occupied as flatlets, bedsitters Houses occupied on a shared basis                  Properties let and occupied by one
                             and rooms which are fully self-catering normally by students, fully self-catering          person, a couple or a family i.e. as a
                             with some degree of self containment         possibly not needing planning                 single household
                                                                          permission and not self-contained
Personal           Washing   Wash hand basins (w.h.b.)                    Wash hand basins (w.h.b.)                     Wash hand basins (w.h.b.)
Facilities                   1 w.h.b. per bedroom and 1 additional w.h.b. preferably 1 w.h.b. per bedroom or is         1 w.h.b. located so that all occupiers can
                             if more than 4 persons sharing the room or 1 shared:                                       access them without passing through
Not to be located in         w.h.b. per every 3 persons sharing and 1-5 persons - 1 w.h.b. in bathroom                  another bedroom.
kitchens.                    located on the same floor and separate from 6+ persons - 1 w.h.b. in each bathroom
All to have constant         bath/shower rooms.                           and additional w.h.b. for 3 persons
supplies of hot and cold     1 w.h.b. in or near each toilet.             sharing.
water.                       Baths/Shower room(s) each                    1 w.h.b. in or near each toilet.              Baths/Showers
                             1-6 persons : 1                              Baths/Showers                                 1 bath/shower located so that all
                             7-12 persons : 2                             1-6 persons : 1                               occupiers can access them without
                             13-18 persons : 3 etc.                       7-12 persons : 2                              passing through another bedroom.
                             located on the same floor as each user‟s 13-18 persons : 3
                             letting and separate from the toilet.        not more than one floor distant from each
                                                                          users letting
Toilets                      1-6 persons : 1                              1-6 persons : 1                               1 toilet located so that all occupiers can
                             7-12 persons : 2                             7-12 persons : 2                              access them without passing through
Externally located toilets   13-18 persons : 3 etc.                       13-18 persons : 3                             another bedroom.
are not acceptable           located on the same floor as each user‟s not more than one floor distant from each
                             letting     and      separate      from  the users letting.
                             bathrooms/shower rooms.                      Up to 5 persons, toilet located in bathroom
                             Toilet not to be located in the is acceptable
                             bathroom/shower room                         6+ persons, toilet to be located in a
                                                                          separate compartment
Kitchens     and     power   Shared kitchens for single person As A                                                     1 power point for electrical cooker plus 2
points                       occupancies no more than one floor distant.  shared kitchens for single person             power points above work surface.
                             1 power point for electrical cooker plus 2 occupancies only.
Walls, floors and ceilings   power points plus 1 for each additional Up to 5 persons - one cooking appliance,
must be easily cleanable     household sharing                            one food storage facility and one sink will
                                                                          be acceptable.
Refuse storage        and Sufficient refuse storage containers in a               As A                                             As A
disposal                  cleanable location with suitable access for
                          collection.
Cooking                   2 rings or hot plate with grill and oven for 1          2 rings or hot plate with grill and oven for 1   Four rings or hot plates with grill and
                          person or 4 rings with grill and oven, not to be        person.                                          oven.
                          shared by more than 3 persons.                          If 5 or less sharing 4 rings or hot plates
                                                                                  with grill & oven.
                                                                                  If more than 5 sharing:
                                                                                  2 rings or hot plate with grill and oven for
                                                                                  each user or
                                                                                  4 rings or hot plates with grill and oven for
                                                                                  3 persons sharing.
Food storage/preparation     Each letting to have:                                5 or less persons sharing:                       Refrigerator min of 0.13 cubic metres with
Space below sink in a sink   Refrigerator min of 0.13 cubic metres                1 Refrigerator min of 0.13 cubic metres          its own electrical socket adjacent to it.
unit not acceptable as a     Dry goods store min of 0.3 cubic metres              1 Dry goods store min of 0.3 cubic metres        Worktop of 0.6 square metres minimum
food store.      All work    Can be located within a letting or partitioned       6 persons or more, each letting to have:
surfaces to be fixed,        storage for each household in a shared               Refrigerator min of 0.13 cubic metres
impervious and able to be    kitchen.                                             Dry goods store min of 0.3 cubic metres
cleaned properly             Worktop of 0.6 square metres minimum per             Located in the letting or lockable
                             letting.                                             compartment in the shared kitchen
                                                                                  Worktop of 0.6 square metres minimum
                                                                                  per letting.
Disposal of waste water      Each letting to have separate sink with              As A                                             A sink unit with a single bowl and drainer.
                             drainer or separate bowl inside each unit or,        Where less than 5 persons, 1 sink
                             ratio of 1 sink:3 occupancies in shared              sufficient in shared kitchen
                             kitchens.
Water Supply                 A supply of cold drinking water to the kitchen       As A                                             As A
                             and each washing point
Natural lighting             All habitable rooms to have a glazed area of         As A                                             As A
                             window 1/10th of the floor area of room.
Space heating                Fixed heating appliance in all habitable rooms       As A                                             Fixed heating appliance in main living
                             of safe and efficient design with sufficient                                                          room.
                             output to adequately heat the rooms.                                                                  Portable paraffin and LPG not
                             Portable paraffin and LPG not acceptable.                                                             acceptable. Solid fuel in exceptional
                             Solid fuel in exceptional circumstances.                                                              circumstances.
Artificial lighting          All parts to be provided with electrical lighting.   As A                                             As A
Ventilation                    All habitable rooms to have an openable              As A                                           As A
                               window 1/20th of floor area of room and at
                               least 1.75 metres above floor level.
                               Other rooms to have same as above or
                               mechanical extract ventilation giving 3 air
                               changes per hour.
Space standards                           One person Occupancy                                   One person unit                   Based upon the number, size of rooms
                               One roomed unit: with kitchen facilities             Each bedroom with separate shared living       and the age of the occupiers. For further
In rooms with sloping          13 sq. mt.                                           room 6.5 sq. mt.                               advice please contact the Neighbourhood
ceiling, the floor area will                      with separate shared              (without separate living room 10 sq. mt.)      Renewal Section at Preston Borough
only be measured to a          kitchen      10 sq. mt.                                          Two person units                   Council.
point where the ceiling        2+      roomed      units:   each          kitchen   Each bedroom with separate shared living
height exceeds 1.5 metres      4.5 sq. mt.                                          room 11 sq. mt.
                                                  each             living/kitchen   (without separate living room 15 sq. mt.)
Underground rooms used         11 sq. mt.                                                    Common Living Rooms
as habitable rooms must                           each       living          room   Kitchens:         1 - 5 persons            6
comply with Council‟s          9 sq. mt.                                            sq. mt.
guidance notes „Standards                         each                  bedroom                       6 - 10 persons           9
for Underground Rooms‟.        6.5 sq. mt.                                          sq. mt.
                                          Two person Occupancy                      Dining kitchens: 1 - 5 persons             9
                               One roomed unit: not normally suitable for 2         sq. mt.
                               or more persons                                                        6 - 10 persons          15
                               2+      roomed      units:   each          kitchen   sq. mt.
                               5 sq. mt.
                                                 each              living/kitchen   Living rooms do not include kitchens or
                               15 sq. mt.                                           kitchens/dining rooms
                                                 each       living           room
                               12 sq. mt.
                                                 each           living/bedroom
                               14 sq. mt.
                                                 each                   bedroom
                               10 sq. mt.
                               Three person Occupancy – contact
                               Neighbourhood Renewal Section at
                               Lancaster City Council
                         Shared kitchens - 3 sq. mt. per person using
Means of escape from Means of Escape from Fire in Houses in Means of Escape from Fire in Houses in Not required to have means of escape
fire and other fire Multiple Occupation.- Medium to High Risk Multiple Occupation - Either i) Low Risk from fire.
precautions              Properties will apply.                         Properties or                              If the property has more than one self-
                         (Brief summary follows)                                            ii) Medium to High contained flat - Same As A
                                                                        Risk Properties
                                                                        (Brief summary follows)
                                                                        Please refer to the flowchart to determine
                                                                        whether your property is low risk or
                                                                        medium to high risk
Gas Safety               All gas appliances and installations to comply As A                                       As A
                         with the Gas Safety (Installation and Use)
                         Regulations 1994 (as amended)/
Electrical Safety        All electrical appliances to comply with the As A                                         As A
                         Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulation
                         1994.
Furniture           and All upholstered furniture to comply with the As A                                          As A
Furnishings              Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety)
                         Regulations 1988.
These are guidance notes only and not a statement of law. If you are not sure about your legal position in any respect you should contact the
Council.
              Means of Escape from Fire for Category B HMOs - Low Risk Properties

This is a brief summary of the provisions of adequate means of escape from fire in a low risk Category
B HMO property under the provisions of the Housing Act 1985.

The measures are based on the principle that all the occupants should be able to leave the premises
safely in the event of fire.

This reduced standard will only apply to Category B HMOs if:
        - The property is occupied by five or less people including any resident landlord;
        - The property has no more than two floors i.e. no basement/cellar or attic room (regardless
          of whether in use or not;
        - The height between the ground floor and first floor landing is no more than 4.5 metres;
        - The property is not associated with a business e.g. over a shop or take-away; and
        - None of the occupiers are vulnerable i.e. over 60, under 10, mentally or physically
          impaired, mentally ill or depressed, on medication or known substance abusers.
        - That there are no other adverse risk factors associated with the property.

The requirements for Category B low risk properties are as follows:

         All doors are to be close fitting and without holes and other perforations or damage which
          will further reduce their ability to hold back the passage of fire and products of combustion.
          The maximum allowable gap between door and frame will be 3mm and door and floor 8mm.
         Windows in every habitable room i.e. bedrooms, lounge and dining room shall have an
          openable area of sufficient size and location to facilitate escape to a safe place outside.
         All bedrooms, lounge and dining room must be accessed directly from the hallway and not
          through another room. For example, first floor rooms with staircases coming into a kitchen
          or lounge are not acceptable.
         To provide an alarm system which is mains powered and installed in accordance with BS
          5839 Part 6:1995 Grade D. At least two mains wired smoke detectors are to be provided,
          one on the ground floor hall and one on the first floor landing. You must have a completion
          certificate from the installer who is an independent Chartered Electrical Engineer, or
          approved contractor on NICEIC or a member of the ECA.
         The property is to be well maintained with no other hazards which would compromise fire
          safety or impede escape in case of fire.


In addition to the above, the College requires that you provide a fire blanket/extinguisher in the kitchen.


Please note: These are guidance notes only and is not a statement of law. If you are not sure about
your legal position in any respect you should contact the Council. Further advice can be obtained from
Housing Standards at Lancaster City Council.
                       Means of Escape from Fire for CategoryA or B HMOs -
                                 Medium to High Risk Properties

This is a brief summary of the provisions of adequate means of escape from fire in a medium to high
risk Category B HMO and Category A HMO properties under the provisions of the Housing Act 1985.
Your property will fall into this category if for example:
         - Any rooms in the property are bedsits;
         - The property is occupied by six or more people;
         - The property has a basement/cellar or attic room (regardless of whether in use or not); or
         - The property is associated with a business i.e. over a shop or take-away.

The measures are based on the principle that all the occupants should be able to leave the premises
safely in the event of fire. This is to be achieved by a combination of measures designed to:-
         “prevent the spread of products of combustion between lettings or onto escape routes and fire
         alarm and emergency lighting systems which give occupants warning of fire and help them to
         make their escape before escape routes become impassable.”

The general requirements are as follows:
 Doors - All doors leading onto the staircase or lobby are to be close fitting and half hour fire
  resisting doors with: *
                - Intumescent strips (these expand at high temperature and seal the door).
                - Cold smoke seals (similar to a draught excluder).
                - Overhead hydraulic self closers.
                - Three hinges (to carry the weight of the door) with a high melting point.
                - Locks etc. able to be used from the room side without the use of a key (applies to
                  final exit doors also).
 Partitions and walls - All partitions and walls between lettings and which surround the staircase or
  lobbies are to be half hour fire resisting. *
 Glazing - This is acceptable in a fire resisting structure or door if it satisfies BS 476. No part of the
  glazing is to be within 1.1m (3‟7”) of the floor. There may also be additional requirements if you
  have to comply with Building Regulations. *
 Floors, basement ceiling and understairs - These are generally required to be half hour fire
  resisting but also see Fire Alarm Systems below. *
 Cupboards including meter cupboards - If located on an escape route they must be removed or
  encased to half hour fire resisting standard. Note this can cause difficulties with gas meters which
  may still required to be ventilated to the external air.
 Cookers, heaters and other sources of ignition - Cooking, heating appliances, furnishings and
  storage of any kind are not acceptable on escape routes.
 Ventilation ducting - This is acceptable but sometimes needs to be surrounded in fire resisting
  material to prevent fire spread from one part of a building to another.
 Emergency lighting - Emergency lighting which complies with BS 5266:Part 1:1988 is to be
  installed on escape routes.
 Fire fighting equipment - Dry powder extinguishers and fire blankets in kitchens (not located
  above or behind cookers) and water extinguishers on the landing and hallway.
 Fire alarm systems - In properties of ground and first floor (with or without a basement) domestic
  type smoke detectors located in the stairway are acceptable provided that they are wired to the
  electricity supply, have battery backup and comply with BS 5446:Part 1:1990. A heat detector to be
  provided in every shared kitchen linked into the same alarm system. Where there is a basement,
  the ceiling must be one hour fire resisting. In properties of three floors or more (with or without a
  basement) a more comprehensive automatic fire alarm and detection system is required (BS
  5839:Part 1:1998). Briefly, this means, smoke detection (BS 5445:Part 7:1997); break glass fire
  alarm call points in the stairs and, heat detectors (BS 5445:Part 5:1997) in all rooms leading onto
  the stairs and kitchens.
  All alarm systems must be loud enough to wake residents and must achieve a minimum sound
  level at each bed head.
 Certification - All electrical work must be certified.
 Internal arrangement - The layout of any accommodation must be arranged so that persons do not
  have to pass through an area of high risk when leaving.
 Automatic lowering lines and ladders - These are not acceptable.
 Good practice - Separate information sheets about the general management and management of
  means of escape from fire in HMOs are available from Housing Standards at Lancaster City
  Council.
 Closing part of a property - On very rare occasions, it is found that part of a property cannot be
  effectively provided with adequate means of escape. For example, an attic room with inadequate
  access arrangements. The Council can accept an undertaking that the part will not be used. This
  can be replaced with a Closing Order if the undertaking is broken.
 Building Regulations, Planning Regulations etc. - Converting a property or doing extensive
  alterations may also require Building Regulation/Planning approval which may require similar issues
  to be addressed.
 Fire Precautions Act 1971 - Certain HMOs fall under the control of the Fire and Rescue Services
  and the Fire Precautions Act. Generally, this relates to hotels and some hostels which are of three
  or more floors in height or occupied by six or more persons. Otherwise, the Council enforces the
  requirements of the Housing Act 1985 (as amended) in other types of HMO such as flats, bedsits
  and shared houses.


* Guidance notes are available from Lancaster City Council for anyone wishing to know the technical
details.

Before undertaking any work, you should consult with Housing Standards at Lancaster City Council.

These are guidance notes only and not a statement of law. If you are not sure about your legal
position in any respect you should contact the Council.
                               Guide to the Management Regulations

As an owner of an HMO, there are additional rules which apply to both the managers and residents
under The Housing (Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation) Regulations 1990. These relate
to the proper maintenance and general management of the property.

The “Manager” is the person managing the house who being the owner or lessee of the property
receives the rents paid by the tenants or lodgers. Where rents are received through another person as
agent or trustee, that other person is also responsible as manager. A notice giving the name and
address and telephone number (if any) of the person (or of each person) who is the Manager of the
property shall be permanently displayed in the house so as to be readily visible to the tenants.

Main Duties of the Manager
 Water and drainage - All means of water supply and drainage (for example, supply pipes, taps,
  waste pipes and drains) are in a good state of repair, clean and in good order. The manager must
  not unreasonably cut off the supply of water.
 Gas and Electricity - The supply of gas or electricity to any resident shall not be unreasonably cut
  off.
 Installations and parts of the house in common use - All parts of the house in common use and
  toilets, baths, sinks, washbasins, cookers, etc. are to be kept in a good state of repair, clean and in
  good order (including lighting on staircases and at entrances). Common parts of the house such as
  staircases, passageways, entrances (including entrance doors, porches and steps) are to be kept
  free from obstruction, and handrails and banisters are replaced or provided where necessary. Any
  stair coverings provided are safe and secure.
 Living accommodation - The structure of any letting and the installations in the accommodation
  for the supply of gas, water and electricity and for space heating and heating water and for
  sanitation are to be kept in good repair and proper working order. Any letting is to be in a clean
  condition at the beginning of a resident‟s occupation.
 Ventilation - All windows and other means of ventilation in any part of the house are to be kept in
  good order and repair. The Manager is not obliged to carry out such repairs in a room which are
  due to the fault of a person to whom the room is let.
 Escape from fire - All means of escape from fire and other fire precautions are to be kept in good
  repair, working order and kept free from obstruction. Signs indicating all means of escape from fire
  shall be displayed in suitable positions in the house so as to be readily visible to residents.
 Outside parts of the house - Any outbuildings, yards, and forecourts in common use are to be
  kept in good repair, clean and in good order and that any garden in common use is kept in a
  reasonable condition, that boundary walls and fences and railings are kept in a safe state of repair
  so as not to constitute a danger to residents.
 House refuse etc. - Refuse and litter is not to accumulate in the premises and there is to be an
  adequate supply of refuse bins and arrangements are to be made for the disposal of refuse and
  litter from the house.
 General Safety - Reasonable precautions are to be taken to prevent injury to residents as a result
  of structural conditions in the premises, with particular reference to dangerous roofs and balconies
  (access to which may be prohibited), and to low windows on staircases and landings.

Duties of the Residents
 Residents are required to take reasonable care not to hinder or frustrate the work of the Manager.
  Residents must:      - allow the Manager at all reasonable times to enter rooms (provided at least
                         24 hours notice has been given except in the case of an emergency) for any
                          purposes connected with carrying out their duties;
                        - give the Manager when requested, any information they reasonably require
                          for the purpose of their duties;

                        - comply with arrangements made by the Manager regarding means escape
                           from fire, other fire precautions or for the storage and disposal of refuse;
                        - take reasonable care not to damage anything with the Manager is obliged
                           to keep in repair.

Penalties and enforcement - The Council can require the manager of an HMO to carry out works to
provide adequate facilities and means of escape from fire and other fire precautions and to make good
defects resulting from failure to comply with the 1990 Regulations noted above. If the necessary work
is not done, the Council can carry out the work themselves and recover all their expenses plus interest.
In addition, for a manager or a resident to knowingly contravene and fail without reasonable excuse to
comply with the 1990 Regulations noted above will be an offence punishable on summary conviction
by a fine not exceeding level 3 on the Standard Scale (currently £400).
                                               Contracts

We recommend landlords use Assured Shorthold Tenancies when letting a property. Assured
Shortholds can either be for a fixed term or open-ended. If there is no term specified in the contract
then a landlord will not be able to obtain possession until after a minimum period of six months has
elapsed. The College‟s Contract is for 36 weeks and we recommend that your agreement is set for this
period. Christmas and Easter vacations should be included. Failure to provide a written statement of
the main terms of the contract now constitutes a criminal offence under the Housing Act 1996. The
Student Accommodation Service therefore strongly advocates written agreements and has devised a
simple to use form for this purpose.

A few basic rules about Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreements:

 Both tenant and landlord are legally bound to the terms of such an agreement unless the terms are
  legally invalid or unreasonable. Therefore, be completely clear about your obligations before
  drawing up a contract.
 Your tenant cannot leave the accommodation before the fixed term (if specified) has expired without
  your agreement unless there is a break clause included in the contract. Equally, you cannot evict
  your tenant prior to the end of the agreement unless he/she is in breach of the terms and in such
  instance you will have to issue correct notices and apply to the courts for a possession order.
 Joint Tenancies where students are “jointly and severally “ responsible for the rent for the whole
  property are not recommended by the Student Accommodation Service.
 The tenants are entitled to the “quiet enjoyment” of the property. This means that as a landlord you
  are required to give the tenant at least 24 hours notice in writing and a mutually convenient time
  arranged for you to visit the property. By law this is part of the contract that is made between tenant
  and landlord whether it is stated or not and whatever sort of contract has or has not been signed.
 Keep a signed copy of the agreement and issue one copy to each of your tenants.

Please note, contracts are strictly between the landlord and the student. The College cannot be held
responsible for any arrears or damage caused by the student(s).
                                     Rents, Retainers and Deposits

Rents
You will have to decide the rent level that you think is appropriate but the Student Accommodation
Service can advise you if you wish. Rents in Lancaster for a room in a shared, terraced house are
typically between £32 and £38 per week depending upon the overall quality and facilities. Electricity
and Gas are normally the responsibility of the students. The owner of a property is normally
responsible for water rates so the students should not pay directly for these.

Retainers
A retainer is a sum paid by a tenant to a landlord to hold a property prior to occupation or re-
occupation. Normally, in the case of students, this is paid over the summer vacation in order to allow
the storage of belongings and ensure that the property is available for occupation and in a satisfactory
condition at a date agreed in the future. The level of the retainer is at the landlords‟ discretion but rates
are normally about one quarter of the rent or £100 for the whole period (16 weeks). The Student
Accommodation Service advises that retainers are set as low as possible. Students will simply
postpone house searches until August if retainer levels are considered to be too high.

Damage Deposits
A damage deposit is a sum paid by a tenant to a landlord to offset costs which may arise during the
period of the tenancy which are over and above reasonable wear and tear. Deductions may be made
from damage deposits for unpaid rent, damage and additional cleaning required after the tenants have
vacated. They may not be used to offset unpaid utility bills which are a direct matter between the
tenants and the suppliers. You should clearly establish with your tenants at the outset what you will
and will not make deductions for. A comprehensive inventory should be signed by both parties when
the tenancy is signed to avoid later disputes over deductions. Sample inventory forms are available
from Student Accommodation Services. All deductions should be clearly itemised and, where
applicable, receipts provided. Refunds should be made to tenants within four weeks of departure.
                                             Council Tax


In the past, if a whole house was occupied by full-time students the owner was exempt from the liability
of council tax. However, following a recent review by the Council, the policy for granting this type of
exemption has been brought into line with current legislation and has now been amended from June
1999.

Term-time
If the whole property is let to full-time students, the property will be exempt from council tax for the
academic year i.e. from September to May. If any of the occupants are not full-time students, the
property will be liable for Council Tax.

Summer Vacation
During the summer vacation, a 50% charge will be payable unless:
        - The previous tenants continue to be full-time students; or
        - The new tenants are currently enrolled as full-time students and their tenancy agreement
          covers the summer vacation; or
        - The property is unoccupied and unfurnished,

For example, if your property is occupied by final year students whose course finish in May/June and
you are unable to secure students to take-up occupation before the summer vacation, 50% of the
council tax will be liable for the summer vacation if the property is taken by first-year students in
September.
                                                 Insurance

The owner of the property is responsible for insuring the building and fixtures and fittings provided.
The tenants are responsible for insuring their personal belongings.




                                                Inventories

It is essential for the landlord to provide an Inventory for each tenant at the beginning of the tenancy.
This must be agreed and signed by both parties. Inventory forms are available from Student
Accommodation Services. By signing an inventory, both tenant and landlord are in agreement about
the condition of all the decoration, fixtures and fittings within a property. If an inventory is not provided,
landlords may have difficulty in charging tenants for damages, if there have been any, at the end of the
tenancy. If the tenants were to take legal action to recover their deposits, you would need to prove that
the items were in a good condition at the start of the tenancy. The landlord should endeavour to
inspect the property at the time of the tenants departure to establish whether there are to be any
deductions from the damage deposit. As an added precaution, you could take photographs at the start
and end of the tenancy in order to justify any deductions that you may arise.
                                  The Voluntary Code of Standards

St Martin‟s College is constantly striving to improve the learning experience of students studying at the
institution. This goal includes raising the safety standards and overall quality of accommodation
provided to those students through the private rented sector. The Voluntary Code of Standards for
Landlords has been established to meet this aim. The points in the code have been chosen to reflect a
set of common sense obligations and responsibilities. They are achievable without additional
expenditure of time and money and without prejudice to legal rights.

It will be made known to students which landlords have agreed to comply with the code. Copies of the
code are available from the Student Accommodation Service.
                                       Most Common Problems


My tenant wants to leave in the middle of the term. Where do I stand?
Once a fixed term tenancy agreement is signed, both parties are bound to that contract (provided that it
is a valid contract). A tenant can leave if a suitable replacement is found, or if there is a clause in the
contract allowing them to give notice and leave before the end date of the contract. If a replacement is
not found or there is no clause in the contract allowing them to give notice and leave, it is up to you
whether you hold the tenant to the full length of the contract, part length of the contract or release them
immediately.

If a student wants to leave because they are withdrawing from the College, we would expect landlords
to reflect the College‟s policy of a written notice to quit of 4 weeks and confirmation from their
department that they are withdrawing from their course.

If a tenancy agreement has not been signed or is not valid, the tenant can leave by giving you one
months notice.

My tenant is late with the rent or owes me money. What can I do?
Sometimes at the start of term, there are delays with grant cheques and the processing of loan
applications which can result in a tenant not being able to pay the rent as specified. If the tenant is
unable to pay an instalment when it is due, you should ask them to pay as much as they can. A tenant
has to be in eight weeks rent arrears before you can start taking any legal action. Write to them in the
forth to sixth week informing them that you will commence legal proceedings once they are in eight
weeks rent arrears if a mutual agreement is not reached and highlight the effect of how a county court
judgement can cause difficulties in their future life.

Once a tenant is in eight weeks rent arrears you can issue them with a Section 8 notice stating that you
will be applying to the courts for possession on the grounds that the tenant is now eight weeks or more
in rent arrears. Two weeks after this notice has been served, if the tenant has not paid the rent or left
the property, a landlord can start proceedings for possession and recovery of rent arrears using the
standard possession procedure. Please seek legal advice before issuing any notices to ensure that
the correct notices are issued and served correctly. Cases have been refused where the Section 8
notice to seek possession has been not been filled correctly or too briefly. Please note that at the time
of issuing the Section 8 notice and at the date of the hearing, the tenant must still be eight weeks or
more in rent arrears. If before the hearing the tenant pays part of the arrears so that they are now less
than eight weeks in rent arrears, you will not be able to seek possession on this ground.

If you do not want to seek possession, you will need to make a claim through the Small Claims Court
for any rent or money owing to you.

You need to ensure that you have the tenant‟s home address so that you have a contact address
should the tenant leave owing you money. You can check a student‟s home address by asking to look
at their enrolment form. Due to Data Protection, the College cannot provide any details or addresses
of students.
My tenants have left and have not paid the gas and electricity bills and have caused some
damage in the property. What can I do?
If the bills are in the tenants‟ names, it is up to the utility companies to collect any money owing to
them. They will not expect you to pay for the tenants‟ debts but you can help by giving them the
tenants‟ forwarding addresses (if known) or their home addresses.
If the bills are in your name you will need to pay these and deduct the amount from the tenants‟
damage deposit, or recover any money that is owing to you through the Small Claims Court. You
should avoid having bills in your name if at all possible.

We would always advise that if you are charging an exclusive rent (i.e. bills not included) that meter
readings are taken and the gas and electricity bills transferred into the tenants‟ names when they move
in.

Fair wear and tear is to be expected when letting a property. However, where there is damage the
tenants can be charged for either repairs or similar replacements and the cost deducted from their
damage deposits. When deducting any money from damage deposits, you need to provide a clear
statement of all the charges you are making and include copies of any invoices or receipts. You will
need to ensure that an inventory is completed and a copy given to the tenants when they move in
stating the condition of the property, furniture and furnishings provided. Otherwise, you will need to
prove that the damage has been caused by the tenants should the tenants seek legal action to recover
their deposits.

The tenants’ neighbours have complained to me about the noise levels from the property. What
can I do?
A landlord can now start legal proceedings straightaway to evict a tenant if they (or their guests) are
causing an annoyance or nuisance to other tenants or neighbours. When you receive a complaint,
contact the tenants and explain to them that this type of behaviour is not acceptable and that they risk
having their contract terminated. You can advise the neighbours to contact Environmental Health if the
problem persists as they can take legal action against someone causing excessive noise levels. If the
noise levels occur during the night, they should contact the police.
If you wish to evict the tenants due to the complaints, you can issue them with a notice that you are
seeking possession of the property and start legal proceedings immediately. As it is a discretionary
ground upon which you wish to seek possession, you will need to prove that the tenants (or their
guests) have been causing a nuisance or annoyance.

I like to keep an eye on my property but my tenants seem to get annoyed when I turn up. Surely
it’s my house and I can go and check everything’s in order whenever I like?
No. You can only go by giving them at least 24 hours notice and arranging a mutually agreeable time.
Whilst you are the owner of the property, it is the tenants home and they are entitled to quiet enjoyment
of the property. Unless an emergency repair needs to be carried out e.g. burst pipe or gas leak,
entering the property without prior notice is harassment and it is a criminal offence.
Whether you want to check that everything is in order or carry out any routine repairs, you must give
the tenants at least 24 hours notice.
Acknowledgements

The Student Accommodation Service has sought advice from Housing Advisory Services and Housing
Standards Neighbourhood Renewal Section at Lancaster City Council, and from the Students Union
regarding the contents of this booklet and wishes to thank them for their co-operation.

Copies of The Housing (Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation) Regulations 1990 and details
of Lancaster City Council‟s minimum standards for HMOs can be obtained from Lancaster City
Council‟s Neighbourhood Renewal Section.

Disclaimer
The booklet is intended as a guide only and is not a complete statement of the law. Its contents are
without prejudice to legal rights. If you are in doubt about your legal rights or obligations you should
seek legal advice.



Date Printed: January 2000
                                     Useful Contact Numbers



Lancaster

Accommodation Officer                                                (01524) 384336
                                                              Fax:   (01524) 384687
Lancaster City Council                                               (01524) 582000
Tenancy Relations Officer                                            (01524) 582000
Housing Advisory Service                                             (01524) 582000
Housing Standards                                                    (01524) 582000
Environmental Health                                                 (01524) 582000
Health and Safety Executive                                          (01524) 582936
Trading Standards – contact your Local Council                       (01524) 582000
Rent Officer Service                                                 (01524) 582000
Citizens Advice Bureau                                               (01524) 384950

Ambleside

Accommodation Officer                                                (015394) 305297


Carlisle

Accommodation Officer                                                (01228) 616206
Environmental Health                                                 (01228) 817348

				
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