What is the Safe as Houses scheme?
North Kesteven District Council (NKDC) is running the Safe as Houses scheme within North Kesteven (NK). Working for the mutual benefit of tenants and landlords, this initiative seeks to raise the standard of private rented homes to achieve warmer, healthier home which are both easier to let and better to live in.
We want to raise awareness of landlords’ roles and legislative obligations towards their tenants and the property. Tenants also need to be more aware of their rights as well as their responsibilities.
We are looking to proactively work and support landlords to provide quality housing which is warm, secure and free from safety risks. We can provide advice on housing standards and the expectations and legal requirements on all landlords.
Information for landlords and tenants
The Housing Act 2004 gives local authorities responsibilities in ensuring that private sector housing conditions meet specific standards, and provides powers to take action where they do not. The Council recognises the importance of the private rented sector in providing good quality accommodation to help meet housing need, and acknowledges that majority of landlords maintain their property to a good standard. However there are some landlords who are either unaware of legislative requirement or those that wilfully flout the law, putting their tenants at risk due to the poor condition of their properties. Substandard housing can have a profound impact on both the physical and mental health of the occupants, as well as having a negative impact on its local surroundings.
The scheme includes the following:
Low EPC ratings
As part of this initiative we are working to proactively identify those rented properties with low energy ratings. From April 2018, properties with an Energy Performance Certificate rating of F or G cannot legally be granted a new lease or renew an existing lease of that property until works have been carried out to improve the energy efficiency to a rating of E or above. Making these improvements can be hugely beneficial to both tenants and landlords, improving the property, making the home warmer and saving on costs. To read the full legislation please visit the Government legislation website.
A new Enforcement Policy was took effect from April 2016. You can read the full policy here on the NKDC website. One new aspect of this enforcement policy is the introduction of charges for issuing enforcement notices to landlords and managers who put their tenants at risk of harm as a consequence of poor housing conditions. Details of these charges are given on page 11 of the new policy. The policy also provides details of other penalty charges that may be applicable to private landlords who fail to meet their responsibilities.
Exemptions and restrictions to making improvements
There are some exemptions to the new regulations. If your property meets the exemption criteria you must register it on the Government’s National Exemptions Register.
If a landlord fails to register an exemption this may amount to non-compliance with the regulations. Landlords will also be in breach of the regulations if they claim an exemption to which they are not properly entitled. Exemptions will only last for 5 years. They will then need to be reviewed to see if they are still effective. If not the work will have to be carried out.
To see the list of exemptions and restrictions please refer to Part 3, Chapter 4 of the Energy Efficiency Regulations.