Landlords! Watch out for the housing health and safety rating system…..

Good morning and welcome to another episode of the Anonymous Landlord and today, I’m going to help landlords with the whole HHSRS legislation, the housing health, and safety rating system is a big thing. 

So any landlords that don’t know about it, then you definitely need to know about it. I’m not going to tell you everything about it today, just purely because that would be a really long episode and probably quite a serious episode. So I would definitely want to put some more effort into notes and so on. 

But today I just wanted to kind of introduce it a bit and tell you a few little bits that you need to know and need to do. Bit of advice on how to tackle it. Because fundamentally this is something serious, which will allow your tenants to sue you directly for anything like this, that could fall foul I suppose within that housing, health and safety rating system legislation and ultimately what it is is trying to make sure that your property that’s being rented by a tenant is suitable, safe fit for purpose. 

Now that all seems pretty obvious and, you know, you may well think to yourself well, yeah, my house is fine and it’s no problem. It’s safe for a tenant, but there are some aspects to this legislation, which, you know, certainly I wouldn’t have thought of until I’d research the actual legislation itself. I certainly wouldn’t have thought about it and any tenant could now sue you as a landlord. 

So it’s pretty serious stuff, but there is also some gray areas. It is, in my opinion anyway, very much open to human interpretation which is even more worrying. Because if you’ve got a council representative goes to your property and carries out a HHSRS check or audit then they will interpret whether they feel this is a hazard, whether they feel this is not suitable for the tenant, not fit for purpose and it could be such tiny little things that you didn’t even consider before.

Give you an example. I heard a story of somebody, a landlord being penalized for this and it was a big fine. I couldn’t tell you the amount of the fine but it was a pretty big fine, so I understand because there was a scratch in the kitchen worktop, a scratch in the kitchen worktop. Unbelievable. 

But look, there probably is more to that story. I don’t know but that’s what that’s what I read from another agent who said that this was the problem that their landlord faced and there’s other ones like decking, garden decking, the the council representative investigated a property and found that the decking wasn’t a hundred percent safe and secure, landlord gets a fine. And apparently the landlord, in that case argued that the decking is fine, unfortunately council gets the last say and that’s it and they make profit from you as well Mr. and Mrs. Landlord, they get to keep all of the penalties they charge you.

Which is even more worrying because it means they have an incentive to impose penalties. The council is just another business, that’s all it is. All needs to make money, they’ve got costs and overheads, so is what it is, right? 

Anyway, so back to the HHSRS. So there are fundamentally 29 components to the HHSRS and they range through lots of different aspects of safety in your property and suitability in your property. 

So the first thing I would do Mr. Mrs. Landlord, you could just Google search HHSRS and there are guides. I’ve got a guide if you want me to supply you with my checklist and my audit that I go through, with my letting agency properties, then I’ll share that with you. I just want to make sure you get it right because this is a serious problem for landlords. 

And I would hate it. If I was a self-managing landlord, which I’m not, thank goodness. But if I was a self-managing landlord, I’d be terrified of this stuff, but there are so many landlords that are not the don’t really think about it. 

You know, what I and this is a totally off topic thing but I the other those long time ago now, but I spoke to a landlord about the gas safety certificates and I said, have you got a gas safety certificate in your properties? He has 10 properties in, manages them all himself. Does all his own DIY, looks after all of his own maintenance, he’ll get he’s a handyman, he’ll go around and fix things and so on and so on, he’ll get electricians out when he needs an electrician or a plumber when he needs a plumber and so on. 

But anyway, looks after all his properties himself and I mentioned to him about a gas safety certificate. Have you got a gas safety certificate? No, it’s all safe in there. No problem. I should give a, have you got a gas safety certificate? You need a qualified gas safety engineer to go and carry out an inspection and then produce a gas safety certificate. No, I don’t need one. I’ve had that boilers quite new. It works just fine. Don’t eat anything. It’s all perfect. No, no. You do need it. 

Anyway, wouldn’t have it, wouldn’t have it, but didn’t know the law. He’d heard about gas safety certificates, but didn’t know the full ins and outs of what is actually required when he’s got to get one, what he’s got to do, when he gets one, what sort of recommendations he has to take action on. There’s so much to it.

So anyway, the reason I say that is because the HHSRS is going to be the same thing. There are going to be a lot of landlords that look after their own properties. That maybe have heard of the housing health and safety rating system, HHSRS. And maybe they’ve watched a couple of YouTube videos, listened to a couple of podcasts, being a bit ironic there on, I but listen to a couple of podcasts, watch a couple of videos, maybe read a few articles or read a few guides.

And they feel like maybe they’ve got this down to a tee. They know and they understand what’s going on, but I can promise you Mr. and Mrs. Landlord, this is a massive, massive piece of legislation. If you read the actual piece of legislation, it’s huge and it would take you a little while to understand in full all of the pieces that are involved in this legislation. 

So the first thing I would do, like I say, is get HHSRS audit done on your property. Now, let me add in here. That sometimes, correct me if I’m wrong, I’ll be interested to hear from any landlord out there but sometimes landlords avoid things like audits, health checks inspections, those sorts of things. 

In a weird way you’re a little bit fearful of what the results might be, and how much it might cost you now. It’s like the EICR, the electrical installation condition report. Now I’ve heard landlords not getting them done before, moving tenants in just purely because they’re worried about how much it’s going to cost.

I mean this is not the way to do it and look I’m pretty sure that most of you listening to this, you spend a lot of your time researching and investigating legislation and processes and protocols and understanding the specific requirements that you need to follow to prevent yourself from being given a penalty or even worse, prosecution because by the way, now you can be directly prosecuted. Mr. and Mrs. Landlord I can’t be more I can’t emphasize that enough. You can now be personally prosecuted, even if you own your properties in a limited company yet the whole point of being a limited company is that you have limited liability, but you can be personally prosecuted. You can be personally taken to court by your tenants, so just remember that.

Anyway. So yeah, get yourself a HHSRS audit or inspection or checklist. You’re going to do it yourself then fine. I would personally get a letting agent to do it because they know what they’re doing in most cases and look, I hate saying this because I own a letting agency but there are some really crap letting agents out there and there are some really good letting agents out there. There are some that are in between but how do you know which ones are good and which ones are bad?

That is a tricky one. Hey look, all letting agents make mistakes, all letting agents are human beings, and whilst they do strive to try and make no mistakes inevitably, we’re still human being so you are going to make mistake, but I do believe that a letting agents strength is in how they recover from those mistakes, how they solve those mistakes and fix problems and do all of those things.

Don’t know why I’m telling you all that. I guess what I’m saying is how do you find a good letting agent to carry out HHSRS that isn’t going to try and rip you off with a load of maintenance work and improvements to the property and it’s going to be very honest and factual and objective. 

Well, look, if you want me to connect you up, it depends on where you are but I’ve got a lot of friends and contacts who are letting agents around the country and I know them, I trust them and If you want me to connect you up with a letting agent, then again, depending on where you are, then let me know and I certainly will happily connect you up with a good letting agent and get this HHSRS done. 

So, that’s definitely the first step I would take for you as landlords and, like I said at the beginning, there’s there’s so much that you need to do as, as part of this HHSRS and I’m not going to go through all here and now, because it would just be a really intense episode, which needs a bit more. I need to make more notes and do more preparation for it. So this one’s just off the top of my head. 

So anyway, once you’ve had that audit done, then definitely, definitely, definitely get the stuff done that’s recommended on that alone, that audit or inspection because like I say it’s pretty serious and there are loads of little things like for an example, the temperature in the property, right now this is this was a again gray area. The temperature of the property needs to be at a certain level both it could be too hot could be too cold. Now you’re thinking well turn the heating on or turning it off? Well no, it doesn’t work like that. It’s more that you have to have the property in general, has to be at a certain level and all of the components that contribute towards cooling and heating, have to be, have to meet certain standards.

So, little tiny things like that, access, security, ventilation, all of these wonderful things, even little things like cleaning products are included in it and I laugh, I laugh because it’s a bit crazy. I laugh, because it’s, it’s a lot, a lot of stuff for you to know, Mr. and Mrs. landlord, and that’s look, that’s why you get the two types of landlord, isn’t it? You get one type of landlord that is happy to take these risks on, you know, and I get it in a lot of cases. We’re still human beings, right? So you still, you’re still a human being. 

So you, you sometimes, don’t expect these things to happen to me or or maybe you think. Well, no. I’m all right, I’m all right but are you sure? Are you a hundred percent certain that your property would be approved under the HHSRS Legislation? No, you’re not, you can’t be because you’re not the one that makes the decision and that’s kind of where I’m getting at with this and this is a bit of a ramble I suppose, but I think it’s a good ramble. 

But overall what we need to do as landlords, if we’re going to manage our own properties, then we have to be property managers and we have to be competent, researched, educated property managers. 

So if you would like to manage your own property, you don’t want to use an agent then you’ll have and you’re happy taking on the risk yourself, then please do some research into this. 

I will help you, if you want to, like I said, earlier on, if you want me to provide you with my HHSRS, audit, or you want my team to carry out an audit on your property if you’re based in the South, then I certainly will. If you want me to connect you with a letting agent that can do this, then I certainly will, it’s well, well worth it just to keep yourself out of trouble. 

So I hope somewhere in there, you’ve picked out a few little tips, really. I just wanted to get across the the importance of researching this and maybe give you a quick tip there about what you can do to make sure you are protected, but just remember as well that there’s no point in getting penalized and being charged, just for the sake of getting an audit done on your property, just for the sake of learning and researching. 

Get these things done. I promise you, it will be worth it. I know it’s a bit of a cost but it will be worth it and then eventually you’ll be a self managing landlord that’s compliant, that’s got everything in place that keeps you out of trouble. 

The important thing as well to remember, is, yes, you’ve got to be compliant but you’ve also got to be profitable too and if you’re getting penalties and charges and all of that constantly then you’re not going to be profitable.

Because your property is a vehicle that is designed to make profit without you, don’t get charged, don’t get penalties, don’t get in trouble.

Just get it right? And I hope that helps, speak to you all soon.