Property inspections are a landlord’s foremost means of maintaining the value of the property and ensuring compliance and peace of mind.
In the event of a sale, let or repossession of a property, timeous property inspections also safeguard the landlord and mortgage lender against financial risk.
There are three types of property inspections that landlords and asset managers are responsible for, including Property Assessment Reports (PAR), House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) license and mid-term inspections.
Property Assessment Report (PAR)
The PAR comes into play when a home is repossessed and sold. It’s a “mystery shop” report that asset managers conduct on behalf of mortgage lenders to independently gauge if the customer received fair treatment in the sale of a repossessed property.
House in Multiple Occupation license (HMO)
There are many financial benefits to letting a house per room, such as tax relief for the landlord, more affordable rental rates for tenants and the potential for earning a higher income from more tenants in a single property.
However, in the words of French writer, Voltaire, “with great power comes great responsibility” and with house sharing carrying additional safety risks, additional regulations apply to protect occupants’ safety.
Gov.co.uk defines an HMO as a property where three or more tenants from more than one household live in a space where they share a bathroom, toilet and/or kitchen, and at least one of the tenants pays rent (https://www.gov.uk/house-in-multiple-occupation-licence).
An HMO license is valid for a fixed term of five years and the landlord or managing agent has to apply for a renewal before the old license expires. Operating an HMO without a license is an offence that is now subject to an unlimited fine.
Once an HMO license is obtained, the landlord or managing agent should ideally conduct an HMO inspection – also known as a mid-term inspection – two to three times per year to optimise the flow of maintenance.
When applying for an HMO license, Council may request an annually updated gas certificate, the installation and maintenance of smoke alarms and safety certificates for all electrical appliances. As per gov.co.uk, Council must also carry out a Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) risk assessment on your HMO within five years of receiving the license application. Should any risks be found, Council may compel the landlord to rectify them.
As the landlord, it’s your responsibility to report planned changes to the HMO, any changes made by tenants or if tenants’ circumstances change, for instance; having a baby or a new partner moving in to Council so that they can inspect the HMO to ensure it meets fire and amenity standards and that there are no new hazards under the HHSRS (https://www.gov.uk/house-in-multiple-occupation-licence).
According to Orion Environmental Health & Safety (http://www.orionsafety.co.uk/health-safety-consultants/housing/housing-health-and-safety-rating-system-hhsrs-assessments), the key principle of the HHSRS is that the home needs to be safe for occupants and visitors. As such, it identifies a total of 29 risks to health and safety and provides a system for eliminating or at least minimizing those risks.
Some of the most common housing and health and safety risks include:
- Damp where there is excess cold or heat
- Pollutants such as asbestos, CO and lead
- Inadequate space, security, lighting and excessive noise
- Poor hygiene, sanitation and water supply
- Accidents such as falling, electric shocks, fires, burns and scalds
- Collisions, explosions, structural collapse
- Inadequate heating
Mid-Term Inspections (HMO inspections)
Mid-term inspections are not mandatory, but they’re indispensable when it comes to maintaining the value of your property investment and having peace of mind that tenants are looking after your property and no illegal activities such as cannabis farming are taking place there.
Performing regular mid-term inspections not only enables you to take care of repairs early, before issues spiral out of control, but conducting them at the right time for you and your tenant also contributes to relationship building. Clear communication and a good rapport with your tenant smooth the way for a good relationship that makes it easier to do inspections and repairs and increase the likelihood of long-term, reliable tenants, says PMS Letting & Sales (https://pmsea.co.uk/property-inspection/).
What to look for during a mid-term inspection:
Knowing what to look for during inspections is just as important as showing up for the inspections. PMS Letting & Sales (https://pmsea.co.uk/property-inspection/) identifies six key aspects to pay attention to during the mid-term inspection, including:
- Condensation and mould. Mould infestations can be dangerous and it loves “setting up house” around windows, on ceilings, inside wardrobes and in corners of rooms – especially on outside walls! Mould also has a special affinity for bathrooms and kitchens, especially where there’s hidden pipework.
- Leaks are a major cause of mould and pose serious risks to the health of your tenants and condition of your property. Check overflow pipes and outside drains for blockages that could cause overflows.
- Fixtures and fittings. Check that these are in good condition and working order.
- Fair wear and tear. There’s a fine line between fair wear and tear and genuine damage caused by a tenant and you can only hold a tenant liable for the latter.
- The loft. Check for rodents, leaks and holes. The loft is also a popular place for certain tenants to farm cannabis.
- This applies if you have a clause in your tenancy agreement that states that the tenant is responsible for maintaining the garden so that it is neat and not overgrown.
The importance of independent, reliable inspections cannot be over stated, especially when it comes to compliance, protecting your property investment and gaining peace of mind.
Vibrant Energy Matters boast an impeccable track record of supplying PARs for various leading asset management firms in the UK, such as the Aventria Group, AMG and Savills. We also offer the convenience of bundled rates for additional certificates that may be required for a successful HMO application.
Operating in every post code in the UK, we are able to carry out instructions nationwide, giving you one point of service for all your inspection needs.