No Letting Go DigiSign (Automated Check-In Service)
Let Us Take Away the Hassle of Chasing Tenant Signatures
No Letting Go DigiSign can automate the tenant signature process, which enables the Check In to be fully electronic, saving time and money. In addition, our new DigiSign function will take away the hassle of chasing the tenant signature once an inventory has been completed. After a short discussion with your local No Letting Go office to set up your desired parameters you will be ready to go. Gone are the days of time lost gathering signatures in favour of a automated signing system that makes the whole process run seamlessly. The short video below gives a detailed of overview of how this technology works:
DigiSign – Automating the Signature Process
No letting Go’s DigiSign process works by sending out text or email reminders to the tenant with prompts to view, leave comments and sign the inventory. As the agent or landlord, you will be informed at each step of the process with a full audit trail available through our Kaptur Management Software. The tenant simply signs electronically via our link or adds additional comments and photos directly into the report. Any additions are verified by us and the report is returned. If the tenant forgets to respond following the reminders, no problem – the report is deemed accepted, and we notify the tenant.
Bespoke the Process to Fit with Yours
One of the unique features of No Letting Go’s DigiSign service is the level of customisation available, allowing us to tailor this service for each agent. You have the freedom to fit the process to your own by selecting the frequency and method of the reminders. Once set up is complete, the automation completely removes this task for you, and we will be able to take care of the tenant signing process going forward.
The Benefits of Using No Letting Go’s DigiSign
There are many benefits than can be realised through the adoption of No Lettings Go’s DigiSign into your inventory reporting process. Here are a few key points we would like to highlight.
DigiSign will automatically send the inventory for signing electronically on completion of the job. The signing process will then play out according to your defined parameters from the initial set up. No further input is required from an agent or landlord after set-up.
When the inventory is sent for signing, the option is there for the tenant to suggest amendments and upload pictures. At this point it is then the at the clerk’s discretion to accept or reject these comments. This can resolve small disputes with the inventory and prevent further problems.
All parties are kept well informed at all stages of the of the DigiSign process. At each action point an email or SMS is sent to the parties involved. At no point will you be unsure about what is happening with the inventory.
Tenants will sign electronically by following a link sent to them be either email or SMS. Once signed this will be stored in our cloud and accessible in KMS. This prevents the need to store hard copies and prevents the risk of documents being lost.
You will have visibility at all times of the process via our portal KMS
A Guide for Landlords: Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors; Is It the Landlords Legal Responsibility?
In October 2015, new regulations were introduced to the private rented sector requiring every landlord to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on each floor of a property. The landlord must evidence that all alarms are tested and working at the start of each tenancy. Fines for non-compliance are a maximum of £5,000 for each failure. No Letting Go will ensure you are compliant. We will check that your alarms are in the correct location, are functioning at move in and install new ones where necessary. All No Letting Go reports have a smoke and carbon monoxide safety section that will guarantee you meet the regulations.
Landlord Responsibilities Outside of England
Since 1st December 2015, Landlords across Scotland must provide carbon monoxide (CO) alarms with integrated long life batteries within ALL rooms hosting a combustion appliance. Even if a CO detector with standard, removable batteries has been supplied previously, it must be exchanged for, or supplemented by a unit with a sealed long life battery to meet the regulations.
A smoke alarm must be installed in the room most frequently used for general daytime living purposes and one installed in every circulation space on each storey such as hallways and landings. A heat alarm must be installed in every kitchen, and all alarms should be ceiling mounted and interlinked.
Again No Letting Go will report this within our inventory at the start of a tenancy to ensure landlords remain compliant.
Different Types of Alarms
There are mainly four types of smoke alarm currently on the market – ionisation, optical (also described as photo electronic), heat and combined.
Ionisation: These are low cost to purchase. They are very sensitive to small particles of smoke produced by fast flaming fires, such as paper and wood, and will detect this type of fire before the smoke gets too thick.
Optical: These are more expensive but more effective at detecting larger particles of smoke produced by slow-burning fires, such as smouldering foam-filled upholstery and overheated PVC wiring.
Heat Alarms: They detect the increase in temperature from a fire and are insensitive to smoke. They can therefore be installed in kitchens. They only cover a relatively small area of a room, so potentially several heat alarms need to be installed in a large kitchen.
Combined Optical Smoke and Heat Alarms: Combinations of optical and heat alarms in one unit to reduce false alarms while increasing the speed of detection.
Combined Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms: Alarms that combine both smoke detection and CO alarm protection in one ceiling-mounted unit. This reduces costs and takes up less of your living space.
Where Should They be Located?
In general, smoke alarms should be fixed to the ceiling in a circulation space, ie a hall or a landing, and carbon monoxide alarms should be positioned at head height, either on a wall or shelf, approximately 1 to 3 metres away from a potential source of carbon monoxide.
How Often Should You Check the Alarm and Who is Responsible?
The landlord is responsible for checking all smoke and co alarms are in the correct locations and working at the start of the tenancy. A good inventory company will detail the location and whether they are in working order within the inventory at the start of the tenancy. No Letting Go carry spare smoke alarms and will replace a non working alarm where required. It is then the responsibility of the tenant to ensure they remain in working order throughout the tenancy. It is advisable to check them once a month.
Should I Know of Any Exemptions?
The regulations are not aimed at the following scenarios:-
Owner occupied properties, so if the occupier shares the accommodation with the landlord or landlord’s family then these regulations will not apply.
A landlord is considered to share accommodation with the tenant if they share an amenity such as a kitchen or living room.
Landlords granting a right of occupation for a term of 7 years or more.
Landlords who are registered providers of social housing.
Responsibility for the enforcement of the legislation lies with the relevant local housing authority, and breaches of the guidance can be punished by a fine of up to £5000.
The smoke and carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 do not apply to social housing landlords.
The key piece of legislation in England and Wales is the Housing Act 2004, which identifies 29 categories of potential hazards, one of which is fire. The regulatory reform (fire safety) order 2005 (FSO) applies to the common parts of multi-occupied residential housing and requires landlords to carry out a fire risk assessment, and then take appropriate measures.
House of Multiple Occupancy
For a 1 or 2 story HMO with an individual floor area of no more than 200sqm – a fire risk assessment is required to identify an appropriate main powered interconnected smoke alarm system. CO alarms must be present in all high risk rooms.
For HMO’s 3 stories or higher – a risk assessment is required to identify a fire alarm system with an appropriate panel. CO alarms must be present in all high risk rooms.
What Will Happen If I Don’t Comply?
Landlords must check the alarms are working at the start of every new tenancy with potential penalties of up to £5,000 if they don’t comply.
Tenants are required to check the alarms are in working order and notify the landlord if they identify any problems.
The responsibility for the enforcement of the smoke and co alarm legislation lies with the relevant local housing authority.
Right to Rent Checks
What is a Right to Rent Check?
In the UK, the responsibility for checking the residential status of a tenant can often fall on the landlord or letting agent. As will be outlined below, there are many types of residential statuses in the UK, and this can lead to confusion and costly mistakes if proper due diligence is not taken. To resolve this issue, No Letting Go have introduced a right to rent check service to ensure that the necessary steps have been taken to perform these checks, thus reliving the burden that has been placed on property owners shoulders.
The Cost of Non-Compliance
The fine for renting property to those who do not have the right to do so can be a costly affair. This could be up £1,000 for a first offence and up to a further £3,000 for further penalties. In some circumstances you could even receive a 5-year prison sentence with an unlimited fine! Full details of the penalties for renting can be found on the Government Website. What is clear is that this is an area where you do not want to cut corners and leave yourself exposed!
What is Meant by Right to Rent in the United Kingdom?
Right to rent refers to a government initiative to require all landlords in the United Kingdom to perform due diligence to check that their tenants have a legal status to live in the UK. This is why before you can rent a home, either the landlord or letting agent will ask to see a tenant’s passport and carry out immigration checks before renting the property.
When Would a Tenant be Subjected to These Checks?
This was introduced with the aim of making it incredibly difficult for people to rent property in the UK without the correct legal status to do so. As a result, any private tenant in England with a tenancy after 1st February 2016 as their main home must prove they have the right to live in the country. As of the time of writing this does not include tenancies in the rest of the UK until further work with devolved administrations has been completed.
Carrying out a Right to Rent Check
For a right to rent check to be completed, the landlord or letting agent must perform the following steps:
Check an original item of identification to ensure that they have the right to live in UK legally. A list of current acceptable items can be found on the Government Website and include documents such as a UK/EU passport and a permanent residence card or travel document showing indefinite leave to remain.
These documents must be checked for every adult occupier in the property aged 18 or over. This is the case for all occupants, whether they are named on the tenancy agreement or not.
Copies of these documents must be made and stored securely throughout the course of the tenancy and for a period of 1 year after termination.
Follow up checks must be carried out when immigrations statuses are subject to time restrictions such a student visa.
Return the original documents to their rightful owners on completion of the checks.
Are There any Exceptions?
The purpose of this guide is to give a brief overview of the requirements of landlords and letting agents when it comes to the legal status of their tenants in the UK. There are many more extensions or alterations to the law in different circumstances such as sub-letting, overseas renters and changes to immigration statuses during the course of tenancies. The home office have put together A short guide on right to rent which goes into more detail. At No Letting Go we are always happy to help and would urge you to get in touch should you have any further questions or queries regarding this article.
Landlord Legal responsibilities for Legionella Risk assessments
One of the many legal responsibilities that landlords and letting agents have is ensuring that their properties are free of the Legionella bacteria, which can cause health problems to more vulnerable tenants or to any member of the public that may visit the property.
Landlords who provide residential accommodation have a legal duty to ensure that the risk of exposure of tenants to legionella is properly assessed and controlled.
Although the responsibilities around Legionella and preventing it spreading from water systems to tenants’ lungs are some of the vaguest in the private rented sector. This is a quick guide to clarify the responsibilities of the duty holder around Legionella and how it affects landlords, agents and tenants alike. In it we’ll cover:
What is Legionnaires’ Disease
Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia — lung inflammation usually caused by infection. It’s caused by a bacterium known as legionella.
Most people catch Legionnaires’ disease by inhaling the bacteria from water or soil. Older adults, smokers and people with weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible to Legionnaires’ disease.
The legionella bacterium also causes Pontiac fever, a milder illness resembling the flu. Pontiac fever usually clears on its own, but untreated Legionnaires’ disease can be fatal.
What is Legionella?
The bacterium Legionella pneumophila (legionella) is responsible for most cases of Legionnaires’ disease. Outdoors, legionella bacteria survive in soil and water, but rarely cause infections. However, legionella bacteria is more prevalent in man-made water systems, including domestic showers systems, garden water systems including hose pipes, internal water pipes, water tanks, air conditioning systems etc. which means it could be present in any property.
Legionella’s ideal conditions for breeding and multiplying are as follows:
- Water Temperature i.e. cold water above 20 degrees and hot water below 50 degrees
- Water droplets produced and dispersed i.e. through showers, spray connections, hot tubs, hose sprinkler systems
- Water stored before recirculation, often referred to as stagnant water i.e. in a system which isn’t used for a period of time weeks, typically 2 or more weeks
- A stagnant environment for the bacteria to feed on i.e. slime, rust, sludge, etc.
Is a Legionella Risk Assessment a legal requirement?
Landlords are legally bound to keep their properties free from health hazards. The law forms part of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and imposes a legal duty on all managing agents and landlords to ensure the health and safety of all tenants, staff and members of the public are protected.
According to the Health and Safety Executive:
“The practical and proportionate application of health and safety law to landlords of domestic rental properties is that whilst there is a duty to assess the risk from exposure to Legionella to ensure the safety of their tenants, this does not require an in-depth, detailed assessment.”
The cost of a legionella risk assessment for landlord who fail to assess their property is covered in Section 17 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 which states:
“If anyone is alleged to have breached any criminal offence under this act or the regulations, and they failed to adhere to the approved code of practise, that criminal offence shall be deemed to be committed”
ACoP provides guidelines on how to comply with the law and it holds a special legal status in the UK as it is legally binding. ACoP 8 covers legionella risk assessment guidelines.
Do I legally need to Test a Residential Property?
COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regs) and ACOP L8 have been in place for many years. Law has not changed, but in the past the regulations related to non-domestic premises restricted to water systems of over 300 Litres.
Residential properties were exempt but research by HSE indicated legionella was as high in residential as it is in commercial and as a result, a new ACoPL8 (HSG274 Part 2), was introduced in April 2014 to include all residential property
The three main Legionella Risk Factors:
- Redundant Pipework
- Infected Water Storage Tanks
- Lukewarm water temperature
As a landlord or agent what should I be doing?
Section 28, Health and Safety at Work Act 1974:
“A risk assessment must be carried out to identify and assess the exposure to legionella bacteria from water systems on the premises and any precautionary measures needed. The duty holder is responsible for ensuring the risk assessment is carried out”
ACoP L8 clarifies how the hazardous substance applies to legionella in a domestic environment. The duty holder applies in the same way as the gas regulations. The landlord or managing agent is responsible for ensuring the risk assessment is carried out.
What do you need to do to comply?
Section 2.138 (HSG274 part 2) states:
Landlords who provide residential accommodation have a legal duty to ensure that the risk of exposure of tenants to legionella is properly assessed and controlled.
The duty holder must:
- Assess – carry out a legionella risk assessment by a competent person who is trained under ACoP L8
- Remove or control identified risks
- Manage the risks on an ongoing basis
- Keep records
- Review the assessment and controls regularly
The risk assessment process?
In most properties, avoiding the breeding of the Legionella is easy enough as long the hot water is kept hot, the cold water is kept cold, and the water is kept moving round the system. Realistically, there is most likely to be a problem if the property has been unoccupied for several months before a new tenancy starts, so it is in these cases where you should be most cautious and ensure you carry out sufficient checks to satisfy yourself that Legionella isn’t present in the property. The frequency of a risk assessment should be no longer than every couple of years. Older systems should be checked more often or if a property has been empty for an extended period, typically longer than 3-4 weeks they should be re assessed.
What do tenants need to know about legionnaires?
Tenants need to be confident that the property they are moving into is legally compliant and safe. That you as a duty holder, whether a landlord or property agent, have completed the relevant due diligence checks.
Who can carry out a risk assessment?
Risk assessments in between tenancies are a good idea and can be carried out by a competent person (i.e. not necessarily somebody professionally accredited), but you need to know what you are looking for and what you are doing.
If you haven’t the time to investigate and learn the requirements or able to visit your property, No Letting Go provide a guaranteed national service. If you would like one of our qualified inspectors to complete an inspection report for any of your properties, then please contact us for availability.
HHSRS (Housing Health & Safety Rating System)
Housing Act 2004
The HHSRS was introduced under the Housing Act 2004 and became effective from 1 April 2006, replacing the housing fitness standard. The Government introduced the system as the way of deciding whether the housing conditions of residential premises are satisfactory. It looks at whether premises have any defects that may give rise to hazards, which in turn could cause harm to the occupiers, or any visitors. A residential property should be capable of satisfying the fundamental needs for the everyday life of a household, such as providing shelter, space and facilities for the occupants.
Satisfactory conditions for residential premises
Fundamental needs for everyday life
All homes in the UK that are privately rented, council & housing association homes must meet the fundamental needs for everyday life covered under the HHSRS. This includes the right that a property must not cause harm to its occupants. A thorough risk assessment of the property can indicate this risk based on 2 Categories. Category 1 hazards are more serious and the council must take action. They can also act on category 2 hazards if they choose to but they are less serious than the latter.
A property must provide shelter, and this is a fundamental right. This includes a wide spectrum of things including shelter from damp, cold, excessive heat and pollution. Further to this, a property must also provide security from intruders.
There are specific guidelines from councils and governments as to what is a suitable space that can be lived in. An area that is often overlooked is headspace; for example, slanted ceilings common in lofts space are often not considered liveable and can result in properties failing to comply.
An adequate living space must include a basic level of facilities to make a space liveable. The obvious amenities include thing such as running water; however, adequate facilities for cooking can sometime be overlooked.
Assessment of the 29 housing hazards
The HHSRS assesses 29 housing hazards and the effects that each may have on the health and safety of the current or future occupant or any visitor to the property. It applies to all residential properties irrespective of whether they are occupied by a homeowner or tenant. It is not possible to completely remove all risk of harm from within a property, but the system provides a way that hazards can be assessed and to decide on what is the best way of dealing with them.
Identifying and minimising those hazards
The first step in making properties safe and suitable is identifying the problems that present hazards. Once hazards have been established a plan can be put in place to take remedial action to resolve problems with the property.
Inventory and schedule of condition
An Independent and Unbiased Professional Reporting service.
No Letting Go property inventory reports are detailed, clear and transparent for all parties. Our inventories provide written and photographic reports listing the condition and contents of the property, including the standards of cleanliness. Each report will provide a safety section to record the information required to evidence compliance to smoke/CO and fire furnishing regulations. The report will also detail keys, appliance manuals, meter readings and provide a short property summary overview.
Schedule of Condition
The most important part of the inventory is the schedule of condition. This details the state of every part of the property, such as the floors (eg, wooden floors), walls, décor, doors and woodwork. Many landlords assume that inventories are for furnished properties only, but the schedule of condition offers protection against damage to fixtures and fittings that may occur during the tenancy. Therefore, it is vital to have an inventory even if the property is unfurnished.
Protecting all parties
We understand the importance of an accurate and consensual inventory document. It is part of the legal documentation and issued at the start of a let to be retained by all parties.
The agent/landlord and tenant will receive a copy of this report on completion of the assessment unless otherwise agreed by email. We can also provide an automated signature process for agents. This automates the tenant signature process from the tenant, and sends out regular reminders to review the report. Any comments made at this point will be recorded within the report. This alleviates the need for agents to send out reminders to tenants. For more information on this service please go to the DigiSign page.
By using the very latest technology and audit tracking, the No Letting Go reports act as your compliance manager. All documentation and digital photographs are retained by us here at No Letting Go for a period of seven years.
When used alongside our check-in or check-out reports, our detailed inventory report protects your assets and helps you to avoid potential disputes at the end of a tenancy.
A comprehensive inventory and check out forms the key evidence, if a dispute were to escalate to the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS).
Does the tenant need to attend
An inventory and schedule of condition can take hours to compile depending on the size of the property. Therefore, it is not necessary for the tenant to attend whilst the assessment is conducted. However, it is very important that the tenant reads and signs the inventory, or raises any concerns shortly after the tenancy begins.
This document will provide guidance to the tenant on how to return the property at the end of the tenancy, and minimise areas of dispute.
Reasons why both landlords and tenants need an independent property inventory
- Conducting an inventory will give both parties an accurate assessment of the current state of the property
- The property inventory will highlight any areas that need addressing
- Having the document to hand will help tenants understand how the property should be returned to the landlord and provide a guideline on how the home should be maintained
- The property inventory will help protect the landlords asset and the tenants deposit
- Conducting a detailed inventory will help reduce disputes arising
- In the event a dispute escalates to a deposit provider, the inventory and check out documentation will provide the key evidence