Code Of Practice
This is the Code of Practice of Gateshead Private Landlords Association. The things we ask of our landlords enables then to be a good responsible landlord and fulfil their legal and statutory obligations.
Aims of the Code – to:
- Provide a statement of standards for all members of Gateshead Private Landlords to agree to abide by.
- Ensure a good standard of service within the private rented sector.
- Clarify relevant Statutory obligations.
- Provide a good standard for the provision of private rented housing in the Gateshead Borough.
- Provide a means of resolving disputes.
- Assist members to choose a responsible tenant.
- Dishonesty, deception, misrepresentation or intimidation shall not be used.
- Good principles and the law relevant to residential landlords shall be observed at all times.
Management Duties – members must:
- Ensure all properties comply with all relevant legislation and local authority requirements.
- Aim to use the Associations vetting service for new prospective tenants.
- Ensure that heating, hot water, gas and electrical appliances operate safely and properly.
- Ensure arrangements for refuse collection and disposal are adequate.
- Respond promptly to all reasonable requests for repairs and other assistance from tenants, inform the tenant of the action to remedy the defect and the time scale involved.
- Not discriminate on grounds of sex, race, religion, marital status or disability.
- Respect the tenant rights as set out in the tenancy agreement.
- Have policies and procedures in place for responding to alleged incidents of anti-social behaviour, harassment or other nuisance problems.
- Communicate clearly, concisely and courteously.
- Ensure suitable procedures/contacts are in place in the event of an emergency or the absence of the landlord.
- Ensure dwellings are not overcrowded.
- Keep information relating to tenants overcrowded.
- Assist tenants in understanding their tenancy agreement giving an explanation of the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and tenant.
- Regularly inspect the property to ensure it is free from disrepair. This should be at a time and date suitable to the tenant. Members should respect their tenants’ privacy and should not enter properties without the tenant’s consent.
- Ensure rents and charges are lawful.
- Ensure that all tenants are given adequate advice and guidance on how to use any appliances for use within the premises.
- Ensure property has adequate insurance cover.
- Members acquiring new property must inform the resident tenants, in writing, of the purchase of the property as soon as possible. Under existing legislation, until this notification, both the old and new landlords are liable for any breach of the landlord’s covenants.
- Advise the local Council Tax Department and any utility companies of any change in occupancy.
Accounting for payments from Tenants – for each tenant you should:
- Keep separate accounts.
- Keep formal records of all money received and expenditure incurred and the current balance.
- Where a discrepancy arises, ensure that the tenant is adequately advised as to any outstanding balance/arrears.
- Give a written record for all monies received from tenant.
- Any bond taken to be protected in one of the named Government Bond Protection Schemes within 30 days of receipt.
- Prescribed Information and Terms and Conditions of the chosen Protection Scheme to be given to the tenant within 30 days.
- Information given to the tenant relating to the rent should be clear and easily understandable.
- A rent book or equivalent must be provided if rent is paid weekly.
- Rent reviews must be in accordance with the appropriate legislation.
- Where a tenants claim for housing benefit results in overpayment, members should liaise effectively with the Local Authority to ensure any legitimate overpayments are repaid.
Arrears – Landlords should:
- Monitor rents received to ensure arrears do not unnecessarily arise.
- Inform tenant immediately if housing benefit paid direct to the landlord cases or is varied.
- If it has been determined that arrears have accrued, members should ensure that tenants are given a breakdown of the nature of the arrears.
- If arrears result in the necessity to pursue legal proceedings to recoup the arrears or seek possession of a property, members should ensure they comply with all relevant legislation. Where necessary, advice and assistance should be obtained from GPLA, Solicitor or other legal representative.
- Members shall ensure that their property is generally in a good state of repair and in a good clean condition.
- Members to ensure that empty properties which they own/manage are kept in a secure condition and they should respond rapidly to re-secure a property if it becomes open to access and/or a danger to public health.
- Members should ensure that all properties comply with all relevant legislation. In particular, valid safety certificates, where appropriate, should be provided for all relevant gas and electrical installations and appliances.
- Common areas and shared yards should be kept clean and well tended in accordance with the tenancy agreement.
- All properties should be regularly maintained including space heating appliances and domestic hot water systems.
- Members should ensure properties comply with current Fire Safety Legislation including those in respect of furniture and furnishings.
- Members should ensure that tenants are aware that it is a legal requirement for landlords to be given access and reasonable facilities to do repairs and give as much notice as possible when access is required.
- Where members have arranged for works to be carried out, they should ensure that the work is carried out in accordance with the appropriate legislation and codes of practice to ensure the safety of residents and the workforce and that they are carried out in a workmanlike manner and satisfactorily completed within a reasonable time period.
- Where members have arranged for works to be carried out, consideration should be given to the tenant to minimise disruption as far as practicable.
- The responsibility for repairs is as set out in the Tenancy Agreement.
- Members should follow the procedure given in the tenancy agreement for inspection of the property at reasonable times and with reasonable notice.
- Members should have an established procedure for dealing with urgent repair work.
- On receipt of a complaint relating to the occupation by or behaviour of the existing tenant, the landlord should carry out a thorough investigation, where necessary, in co-operation with relevant interested parties such as the Police or Local Authority. Where a complaint is found to be justified, the landlord shall enforce, as far as practicable, the conditions contained within the tenancy agreement.
- Deal fairly with all parties.
- Endeavour to resolve disputes by informal means before pursuing formal action.
Terminations of Tenancies – members should:
- Serve the prescribed statutory notice and if necessary take appropriate court action.
- Be aware that they cannot take possession until the tenancy has come to an end and the tenant has vacated or a court order is obtained.
- Have a system in place to determine whether a tenant has vacated the property following service of a possession notice.
- Inspect the property within 24 hours following the vacation of the tenant to determine the condition of the property. Should the property be found to be in a satisfactory condition, the landlord should contact the appropriate bond protection scheme to release the bond to the tenant. Should the property be found to be in an unsatisfactory condition, the landlord should advise the tenant accordingly in writing and detail amount of deposit he intends claim from the bond protection scheme holding the bond along with the reason for doing so.