Section A – Introduction
This Focus Note provides guidance for Managing Trustees when Methodist Model Trust Property is let out on an assured shorthold tenancy (AST). This Focus Note sets out Managing Trustees’ rights and obligations during a residential tenancy.
Section B – Landlord’s right to enter the property during the term
An approved tenancy agreement will set out the circumstances in which the landlord can enter the property during the tenancy. Note that whilst a landlord can retain keys for a property and enter for any reason permitted by the tenancy agreement, a landlord must give at least 24 hours' prior written notice to the tenant. Under the Template AST (and the Residential Tenancy (Landlord) Template Clauses), you should be able to enter the property to inspect the state of repair, carry out Quinquennial Inspections as well as any works required and show prospective tenants and ministers around the property provided you give the tenant 24 hours’ notice. Managing Trustees should speak to their solicitor/ agent if they have any concerns over their right to enter the property or run into any difficulties with their tenants.
Section C – Managing the tenancy
Managing Trustees are at liberty to decide whether it is in the best interests of the charity for them to pay letting agents to manage the tenancy or to deal with day to day matters themselves. Please bear in mind that the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the property is maintained, insured and generally looked after lies with the Managing Trustees whether or not the services of a letting agent are used. As prudent charity trustees the Managing Trustees should therefore check that any agent who is being paid to look after a tenancy is doing this properly.
For Managing Trustees in Wales, the ability to manage the tenancy themselves will depend on Managing Trustees having carried out training approved by Rent Smart Wales (and having notified TMCP so that the records kept by Rent Smart Wales are up to date). The Rent Smart Wales Focus Note sets out the particular requirements in Wales in terms of managing tenancies.
Section D – Statutory requirements
Managing Trustees should continue to bear the following issues in mind whilst the property is occupied by a tenant:
- Tenancy deposit
If a deposit is taken Managing Trustees need to check that it has been put in a Government approved tenancy deposit scheme (Tenancy Deposit Scheme) and that the appropriate paperwork has been handed to the tenant. Managing Trustees need to satisfy themselves that they have complied with the requirements placed on landlords in respect of deposits particular to their jurisdiction.
- Gas fittings
Landlords in England, Scotland and Wales are obliged to ensure that gas fittings and flues are maintained in a safe condition and to carry out annual checks under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. Managing Trustees need to have regard to this general duty and arrange for gas appliances and flues to be checked by an engineer registered with the Gas Safe Register at least every 12 months and provide a copy of the safety certificate to the tenant within 28 days of the check being carried out.
Please see the Health and Safety Executive’s guidance for further information.
- Electrical equipment
All electrical equipment must be safe. Although Managing Trustees are not required to provide the tenant with a certificate of electrical safety, this is best practice. Checks should be carried out on any electrical equipment every 5 years.
- Smoke alarms and Carbon monoxide alarms
The Residential Tenancy (Statutory Requirements) Focus Note sets out the requirements to install smoke alarms (on each floor of a property) and carbon monoxide alarms (in rooms used for living accommodation containing a solid fuel burning appliance or gas appliances) and to test such alarms at the start of the tenancy. During the tenancy itself, thought needs to be given to ongoing testing. This is generally thought to be the tenant’s responsibility but Managing Trustees should satisfy themselves that the alarms will be tested when necessary depending on the type of alarm installed and manufacturer’s recommendations. It is advisable to ensure that the tenant knows whether the alarm is connected to the mains supply or if it is battery operated.
As landlord under an assured shorthold tenancy agreement Managing Trustees are responsible for:
- the structure and exterior of the property.
- sinks, baths, toilets and other sanitary fittings, including pipes and drains.
- heating and hot water installations.
- all gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation.
- electrical wiring.
- Managing Trustees should check whether the tenancy agreement also requires them to keep the appliances (such as the washing machine, cooker and fridge) at the property in repair. The Template AST does not include this responsibility.
As prudent charity trustees and as landlord Managing Trustees need to ensure that they keep on top of the maintenance of Model Trust property.
Section E – Further information
Please refer to the following available guidance:
Government guidance for tenants - although this guide is for tenants it provides a useful summary of the responsibilities placed on landlords and tenants.
Please note that this document is to provide guidance and assistance to Managing Trustees and their professional advisers. This guidance note is general in nature, may not reflect all recent legal developments and may not apply to the specific facts and circumstances of any particular matter.
Also note that nothing within the documents and guidance notes provided by TMCP nor any receipt or use of such information, should be construed or relied on as advertising or soliciting to provide any legal services. Nor does it create any solicitor-client relationship or provide any legal representation, advice or opinion whatsoever on behalf of TMCP or its employees.
Accordingly, neither TMCP nor its employees accept any responsibility for use of this document or action taken as a result of information provided in it.
Please remember that Managing Trustees need to take advice that is specific to the situation at hand. This document is not legal advice and is no substitute for such advice from Managing Trustees' own legal advisers.
If you have any queries in relation to the guidance in this Focus Note please contact TMCP Legal for further assistance.