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Immigration Checks by landlords

There has been much speculation in the media regarding the proposed Immigration Bill, which will include duties to carry out immigration checks by landlords on prospective tenants. Although there were reports that these provisions would be scrapped, Home Secretary Theresa May confirmed her plans to press ahead with these. This is anticipated to become law by 2014 (subject to approval by MPs).

Will carrying out immigration checks by?landlords be necessary?

The Aims of Bill

In a bid to tackle the social and economic problems caused

Tenant Abandonment - what is an abandoned property?

We receive a number of queries from Registered Social Landlords on tenant abandonment, asking - what is an abandoned property? - and about the procedures involved for recovering possession of abandoned properties?

Section 17 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 states that a social landlord may commence proceedings to recover possession of a property if they have reasonable grounds for believing that -

  • The house is unoccupied, and
  • The tenant does not intend to occupy it as the tenant's home.

A landlord should make necessary

Changes to letting agent adverts

Earlier LetLaw blogged about new rules requiring Scottish landlords to include the energy rating from an Energy Performance Certificate ?on their adverts for let. As of 1st June 2013, all landlords in Scotland are going to have to expand the word count on their adverts with yet more changes to legislation on letting agent adverts.

The Scottish Government have finally introduced section 6 of the Private Rented Housing (Scotland) Act 2011. ?This requires all landlords to include their landlord registration number on letting adverts

Gritting common areas - landlord?s responsibility?

In a previous blog about landlords? duties during the winter months, we highlighted the possible duty for landlords under the Occupiers Liability (Scotland) Act 1960 to ensure that they are gritting common areas.

Continuing the gritting common areas theme, a very interesting judgement has now been released in a sheriff court case. The case is Bonham v Pentland Housing Association.

-? Ms Bonham was a tenant of Pentland HA

-? In December 2009, she fell on the pavement area outside her home, breaking her

Scottish Tenant Information Packs

Following their introduction in the Private Rented Housing (Scotland) Act 2011, the Scottish Government announced that Scottish tenant information packs will arrive on the 1st May 2013. From that date, a landlord will be required to provide the tenant with standard documents no later than the date on which the tenancy starts, as specified in the Tenant Information Packs (Assured Tenancies) (Scotland) Order 2013.

In particular landlords will require to provide tenants with the following documents:-

  • a copy of the tenancy agreement
  • where the

Forcing owners to maintain property

We are frequently asked by landlords ?can other owners?be forced to maintain their property??. One common issue is where persistent leaks from one property cause water ingress and damage to another. This can be where one or both of the properties are being let.

Unfortunately, landlords in this situation are limited in what they can do to prevent further leaks arising. You can put pressure on the owner to carry out repairs swiftly and by a qualified contractor. However, often repairs aren?t carried out at

Ensure your property is being maintained

Do you know how to ensure your property is being maintained properly? The Letlaw team recently received a query from a landlord who suspected their tenant?was hoarding items within the property. Although the tenant had always paid their rent, they had denied the landlord access to carry out inspections, over a long period of time . The landlord asked: ?should they insist on gaining access to the property given the rent is always paid on time, to allay their concerns, but risk 'rocking the boat'

Winter is coming ? landlord's legal responsibilities

The Scottish Government?s ?get ready for winter? campaign has now started. What are a landlord's legal responsibilities to tenants in winter?

While the current weather is causing significant flooding problems, no doubt we will soon see the return of freezing weather which leads to many housing associations and landlords facing calls from tenants about frozen pipes. Many will also be concerned about what they have to do to keep footpaths clear of snow and ice. So what are the legal obligations of a landlord in

Who Pays for Common Repairs?

We are coming across an increasing number of queries from landlords regarding the problems arising from common repairs and we are frequently asked - who pays for common repairs?

Many landlords will have tenanted properties in blocks of flats where there will be common property requiring maintenance and repair. The question of who carries out the work and more importantly who pays for it is often one that is up for debate.

There may be a factor appointed for the block that has the responsibility

Unlawful letting agent charges in Scotland

Following their consultation on the issue of unlawful letting agent charges?in May 2012, the Scottish Government have announced that a change to the definition of a ?premium? will come into effect on 30 November 2012.

Currently, the definition of a ?premium? is contained within section 90 of the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984 which states that it includes ?any fine or other sum and any other pecuniary consideration in addition to rent?. Premiums are payments which are required by a landlord as a condition of the

Tenancy Deposit Scheme in Scotland

All three of the tenancy deposit schemes in Scotland approved by the Scottish Government are now operational! The many different aspects of the tenancy deposit scheme in Scotland?have been covered on our blog before however with the official operational date of 2 July 2012 having passed, it would be a good time to remind landlords of the timescales involved to ensure they are complying with their duties. Rest assured, there is no need to panic just yet!

Landlords in Scotland will need to lodge a

Letting Agents - can a tenant reclaim fees?

We blogged about the Scottish Government?s current consultation on letting agents charging premiums and possible amendments to the definition of a premium. Since then, Shelter launched a campaign encouraging tenants to ?reclaim your fees?. Shelter wants the Scottish Government to clarify the legislation to make it clear to tenants, landlords and agents just what charges are permitted, if any, over and above rent and a security deposit. So if you are letting agents - can a tenant reclaim fees?

So what is a premium?

The

Private landlords - don't lose your HMO licence!

Landlords in the private rented sector in Scotland must register with their local authority for an HMO licence and must be deemed fit and proper persons.? Additionally, where properties are being let to multiple occupants, the property itself also requires to be licensed.?Where a landlord has a number of different HMO properties then the landlord?s behaviour at one property can impact on the licensing of another. So make sure you don't lose your HMO licence!

A recent court case showed that landlords are expected to

Are Holding Deposits & Reference Fees Legal?

If you are taking holding deposits and reference fees, is this legal? Letting agents charge a number of different types of fees to tenants, under a variety of names such as:

- 'holding deposits',
- 'reference fees',
- 'administration fees', to name but a few.

The current legal position under the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984 is that it is an offence to charge or receive any premium (over and above rent and a security deposit of no more than two months rent) as a condition

Landlord Electrical Safety Checks

Landlord Electrical Safety Checks - do you know your legal duties regarding electrical requirements?? In the private sector it can be bewildering when it comes to knowing what your legal obligations are when carrying out electrical safety checks on electrical installations and appliances within rented properties.

There are two main legal obligations that a landlord should be aware of.

  • Firstly, the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 sets out the ?repairing standard? which a landlord must ensure their property meets at the start of, and at all

What is a Tenant Information Pack?

Are you aware that the Private Rented Housing (Scotland) Act 2011 is proposing that all landlords?will have to provide a tenant information pack in future?

The aim of this Act is to support responsible landlords and address more effectively the problems caused by landlords who act unlawfully, by strengthening the regulation of the private rented sector. One of the proposals within this Act was the introduction of a ?Tenant Information Pack? for all private sector tenants.

The Government have now indicated that they wish to

HMO Licence - How not to do it

New rules relating to licensing of houses in multiple occupation (HMO) came into force August 2011. Landlords should be aware of these rules, which require a local authority HMO licence when a property is shared by three or more unrelated individuals.

There are some exceptions but a recent court case has shown that landlords should not try to avoid compliance with the rules by attempting to find inventive ways to meet some of the exemptions. More details can be found here.

The case involved

Rent Arrears Scotland: Early Intervention by Landlords

A regular question at our landlord training sessions relates to the idea of early intervention when a tenant accrues rent arrears in Scotland. ?Landlords should always contact the tenant in these situations to obtain an explanation for the non-payment of the rent. ??Early contact can often prevent the situation from escalating outwith the tenant?s control.

Many landlords worry they will be accused of harassment if they make attempts to contact the tenant. ??In one recent example, after the tenant had given notice to quit, the

Ready for more changes in the Private Rented Sector?

The law is raining down on the private rented sector?and over the next few years there will be major legal changes affecting you and your tenants. ?Are you ready for more changes in the private rented sector?

Ahead of the pack is the Private Rented Housing (Scotland) Act 2011 which should be in force by the end of 2011. If you?re really keen or just looking for a cure for insomnia, the entire act can be found here. Meanwhile, keep reading for a handy summary