Coventry Landlord Forum Newsletter

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Landlord Forum Newsletter

In this issue:


Welcome to the first edition of the Coventry Landlord Forum newsletter.

The newsletter will be published regularly to keep you up to date with issues affecting landlords in the City. It will enable us to reduce the number of Forum meetings while still ensuring that you get the information you need.

Like the Forum meetings the newsletter will deal with new legislation, energy efficiency and other items of interest. This edition, for example, has articles on the Immigration Act 2014, the Redress scheme, Legionella and other matters too.

You are welcome to submit articles or suggest topics for future editions.  We hope that you find the newsletter an interesting and informative read.

And don’t forget to update your contact details.


Legionnaires’ disease in residential accommodation

legionella original

Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia and everyone is susceptible to infection, some more than others. Health and safety legislation requires landlords of residential accommodation to appoint a ‘competent person’ to carry out a risk assessment for the Legionella bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease and subsequently maintain control measures to minimise the risk.

Legionella pneumophila and related bacteria are common in natural water sources such as rivers, lakes and reservoirs, but usually in low numbers. They may also be found in purpose-built water systems like cooling towers, evaporative condensers, hot and cold water systems and spa pools. If conditions are favourable, the bacteria may grow, increasing the risks of Legionnaires’ disease. It is important to control the risks by introducing appropriate measures as outlined in the HSE’s Approved Code of Practice ‘Legionnaires' disease - The Control of Legionella bacteria in water systems (L8)’.

Most rented premises will be low risk and properly managed, so no further action is necessary. However, it is important to review the assessment regularly in case anything changes in the system.

An example of low risk is a small house or flat with small domestic water system, where daily water usage is sufficient to turn over the entire system; where cold water is directly from a wholesome mains supply (no stored water tanks); where hot water is fed from instantaneous heaters or low volume water heaters (supplying outlets at 50°C); and where the only outlets are toilets and wash hand basins. 

Simple control measures can help control the risk of exposure e.g. by:

  • flushing out the system prior to letting the property
  • avoiding debris getting into the system (e.g. ensure the cold water tanks, where fitted, have a tight fitting lid)
  • ensuring the temperature of stored water is at or above 60°C
  • identifying and removing any redundant pipework where water may lie.

It is important that water does not stagnate within the water system and so there should be careful management of dwellings that are vacant for extended periods.

Tenants should be advised of any control measures put in place that should be maintained e.g. not to adjust the temperature setting of the calorifier, to regularly clean showerheads and to inform the landlord if the hot water is not heating properly or there are any other problems with the system so that appropriate action can be taken. If there are difficulties gaining access to occupied dwellings, appropriate checks of the water system can be made when undertaking mandatory gas safety checks or routine maintenance visits.

Further information can be accessed at the HSE’s website.


Redress scheme


From 1st October 2014, letting agents and property managers who carry out lettings or property management work ‘in the course of business’ have to belong to one of three Government approved redress schemes.

Housing minister Kris Hopkins said “Having a redress scheme will provide confidence to both tenants and landlords that any problems with letting agents can be cheaply and swiftly resolved and provides an alternative to the court system.”

This will mean that any tenant or landlord who feels they are not being treated fairly will have somewhere to go with their concerns - and could receive compensation.

Each scheme’s terms of reference are slightly different; all will expect the letting agent to comply with a code of practice which will include a complaints process. A dissatisfied tenant can complain to the scheme's Ombudsman and the agent must comply with the Ombudsman’s decision; failure to do so may result in the agent being removed from that scheme and barred from joining other schemes.

Failure to comply with the Order may result in a Local Authority fine of up to a £5,000.  The agent can be ultimately closed down if it continues to breach its legal requirement to join a scheme.

Lettings agency work, essentially letting premises on assured shortholds and assured tenancies generally, are covered; whereas with property management work the definition is wider, as it includes not only lettings under an assured tenancy (including assured shortholds) but also where there is a long term tenancy in place (such as a flat held under a long lease by an owner/occupier). There are a number of exemptions to both definitions.

To determine if a letting agent or property manager should be registered, read the DCLG’s ‘Lettings Agents and Property Managers Guide Which Government approved redress scheme do you belong to?’. Further information, on how to register or to check if your letting agent is registered, view their websites at The Property OmbudsmanThe Ombudsman Service (Property)The Property Redress Scheme .

To report a Letting Agent or Managing Agent who has not registered, contact Coventry City Council's Customer Services team at (0500/024 76) 834333 or by email


Access to Private Rented Property


Coventry's private rented accommodation scheme

The Access to Private Rented Properties (APRP) scheme helps to place homeless people and families looking for accommodation in the private sector.

The team, through Coventry City Council Housing Options, offers landlords a written guarantee in place of a cash deposit on behalf of our clients and the team then supports the tenant to help them to act responsibly and maintain their tenancy.  Basically, we help take a lot of the risk out of letting your properties, thereby making your job as a landlord that much easier.

The APRP team can also help in many other ways, including providing advice to landlords on changes in the law and upcoming legislation, handling paperwork including the inventory and can act as mediator if a dispute arises.

The prospective tenant can gain access to the scheme as part of their homelessness application via the Housing Options Team.

If you would be interested in finding out more please contact the team on:

024 7683 1919 / 1924 / 1713

or e-mail:

or visit:


Immigration Act 2014

The ‘Right to Rent.’ New responsibilities for landlords

The Immigration Act 2014 makes landlords responsible to check that a person has the correct immigration status to legally live in the UK, before they can take up occupation of the landlord’s property. Initially, the new rules will be trialled in the West Midlands; specifically, Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Birmingham, (but not Solihull or Coventry) before being rolled out to the rest of the country. The rules come into effect on 1 December 2014 and only apply to new tenancies. There is no need to check the status of existing occupants. Checks are needed for all adults aged 18 or over who will use the property as their main residence.

The checks will be quick and straight forward. Often, the documents that landlords already check to establish a prospective tenant’s identity will be enough to show that they are in the UK legally and it will not be necessary to contact the Home Office. A British or European Economic Area national can show their legal status with a passport, or combination of documents such as birth certificates or driving licences. For most migrants from outside the European Economic Area, the checks are equally simple and can be satisfied with a biometric residence permit. Landlords will need to keep copies of documents as proof that the check has been made. Support and guidance will be available for landlords and tenants online and via a helpline, (0300 069 9799) which has already gone live.

There are exemptions from the new rules, including local authority tenants, certain types of (but not all) student accommodation, some accommodation provided with employment, hostels and refuges. Landlords who do not comply with the new regulations, either by consistently failing to carry out checks or by letting properties to illegal immigrants may be liable for a civil penalty or fine. However, landlords and their agents will not be expected to be immigration or forgery experts and they will not be penalised if they are misled by a skilful forgery, provided they record that they have performed the necessary checks. The purpose of the scheme is to make it more difficult for immigration offenders to stay in the country when they have no right to be here and to catch unscrupulous landlords who exploit people by renting out substandard, overcrowded and unsafe accommodation, not to penalise reputable landlords.


Discretionary Housing Payments

What are discretionary housing payments?

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) are payments made at the discretion of the Council to help people who are entitled to, or in receipt of housing benefit and cannot afford to pay their rent costs. The Government gives the Council a limited amount of money to help in these circumstances so we will look at your financial circumstances to decide if you can make up the shortfall in your rent or housing costs.

What can discretionary housing payments be considered for?

Where it is established that you have enough money left over once your priority debts are paid then no help can be given. We will expect you to use this money to keep up to date with your rent.

A DHP can be considered for:

  • Rent in advance or Deposit or Bond. We can helping you where you are currently in a property that you cannot afford and need to move to a more affordable property.
  • A shortfall between a customer's Housing Benefit and their contractual rent
  • Those affected by the Benefit Cap.
  • Those affected by the size criteria in the social rented sector. This will depend on your individual circumstances. Just because you are affected by the changes does not mean that we can automatically help you.
  • Those affected by the Local Housing Allowance reforms.

How do I apply for discretionary housing payments?

Applications should be made online via the Council’s website, or assisted telephone claims can be made by telephoning the Discretionary Housing Payment team.

The Discretionary Housing Payment Grant operates within the boundaries of the Council's policy.


Green Deal Home Improvement Fund

Have you considered external wall insulation? 

In March 2014, landlord Adrian White had external wall insulation installed at his end of terrace, solid-walled property in Coventry.  The biggest part of the cost was met by funding from two Government initiatives, the Energy Company Obligation and the Green Deal Cashback.

Adrian is really pleased with the insulation work and says that;

“It made financial sense.  The improvements to the property gave my tenant a better home to heat, whilst providing an improvement in my property which will possibly give an increase in value.  It also means that I will not have to decorate the exterior of the property for some time. I would definitely recommend insulation to other landlords.”

External wall insulation offers a range of potential benefits:

  • Reduced energy costs
  • Improved tenant comfort levels
  • Health benefits for tenants
  • Improved property appearance
  • Increased property value. 

Adrian’s tenant has noticed the difference in the amount of heating needed. Figures from the Energy Saving Trust show that fuel bill savings following external wall insulation at a property like Adrian’s could amount to nearly £300 a year.

The funding initiatives that Adrian benefited from were recently superseded by the Government’s Green Deal Home improvement Fund. This new fund can cover 67% of the cost of installing external wall insulation up to a maximum of £4,000. To take advantage, landlords have to use a registered Green Deal provider or installer, and must claim the money after completion of the work using a voucher issued to them. More Government money for the Fund is expected to be released in the next few months.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the Government is currently thinking about introducing minimum energy efficiency standards for privately rented properties, and having solid walls insulated will help landlords to meet the requirements.  

Advice on insulation and heating, and the financial assistance that’s available, can be obtained from the Energy Saving Advice Service. The service is operated by the Energy Saving Trust on behalf of the Government, and the number to call is 0300 123 1234. Alternatively, you can contact the City Council’s Affordable Warmth Team on 024 7683 2330.


West Midlands Homes

FREE software

for private landlords and letting agents to advertise rented properties

Coventry City Council, in conjunction with 7 other Local Authorities in the West Midlands, has developed a website on which landlords and letting agents can advertise their available rental properties to potential tenants free of charge.

The site is easy for both landlords and tenants to use and in addition to providing detailed property information, including photographs, for tenants to view it, is a valuable resource for landlords.  Landlords can quickly and easily upload property details, photographs, re-activate properties once they become available again, and the system will issue reminders about Certificate Renewals, and lots, lots more.  Prospective tenants can browse through the details, find a property in the right area at a rent that suits them and make contact with the landlord.  It’s that easy.

A leaflet about the website is available on request, with more information about the site for both landlords and prospective tenants.

If you have any further queries, then please do not hesitate to call the APRP team on 024 7683 1919/1713/1924.


Updating the mailing list

Do we have your up-to-date mailing details? 

Judging from the number of returned e-mails following our last mailshot, the answer in many cases is no, we don’t.

If your contact details are out of date we can’t send you details of meetings, and important information about such matters as welfare benefits, energy efficiency measures, West Midlands Homes and so on. 

So, can I ask you to let us have the following information?

  • Name    
  • Organisation name
  • Address
  • Telephone number
  • Any other contacts
  • How many properties you have to let
  • Are you happy for us to write to you about the Landlord Forum and associated matters?

Please return the information to

Or write to Business Services, Customer and Workforce Services Directorate, Business Service Centre, 5th Floor, Broadgate House, Coventry CV1 1NG