Private landlords are being warned to take urgent action to protect themselves following recent changes in legislation.
Estate agent, Bell Ingram, is concerned the recent changes in the private rented housing sector may have gone un-noticed or misunderstood by landlords, which could lead to severe repercussions such as fines, legal action or even criminal proceedings.
Sector experts from the firm have highlighted the key points for concern, including changes to smoke alarm regulations, new Legionella risk assessment requirements and the amended Repairing Standard which is being phased in over the next two years under the Housing Scotland Act (2014).
The new Health & Safety legislation regarding Legionella states that all private landlords of residential property must carry out risk assessments for the bacterial disease, as well as taking the necessary prevention methods. Previously this was only necessary in properties with water tanks with a volume of 300 litres or more.
Changes to the Repairing Standard will require landlords to fit carbon monoxide detectors and carry out electrical safety checks every five years, while a number of stipulations have also been made over the number, and positions, of smoke and heat detectors.
Bell Ingram, which has offices across Scotland, is ensuring all of its own clients are well prepared for what’s to come and are offering up advice, as well as working with contractors to ensure risk assessments are carried out accordingly.
Mark Mitchell of Bell Ingram said:
“It’s not easy for private landlords to keep up with legislation changes and sometimes they go completely unaware that they may be breaking new laws – until they find out the hard way.
“This is one of the main reasons why professional advice is so important and we would urge all landlords to seek help where possible or run the risk of facing severe penalties.
“For many landlords, changes like these can often be quite onerous so we aim to make sure that we are there for our clients to lean on as much as possible.
“We do this not only by ensuring that we have informed all clients of any changes in the law or of any new laws and regulations, but we also like to ensure that our clients know that they can seek advice from us because we are experts in the field."
A Scottish Government consultation due in October is expected to detail more radical reforms on the rights, powers and responsibilities of tenants, and Bell Ingram is strongly urging landlords to respond to ensure they have their say.