Landlord Focus – summer 2023

Welcome to ‘Landlord Focus’ – the Private Sector Housing Team’s e-newsletter for providing news and relevant information for landlords, letting and managing agents in Reading.  We hope you will find the articles in this issue useful and informative.

By including these summaries, we aim to keep you informed to avoid unintentional offences that could result in enforcement action.  We also want to assure those landlords who offer good accommodation and good standards of management that we continue to actively enforce against those landlords operating illegally and without due regard to the law.

If you have any comments or ideas or suggestions for future editions, please email us at:

Reading Rent with Confidence

About the Scheme:

Reading Rent with Confidence is a landlord & property accreditation scheme aimed at working with the Private Rented Sector to improve the quality, standard of property conditions and management of the sector.

The scheme encourages landlords, letting and management agents to work with Reading Borough Council to provide tenants with good quality accommodation and good property management services.

The scheme has a dedicated website that allows landlords to advertise a whole property or individual rooms that are available to let immediately or have upcoming availability.

At a glance:

  • Advertise your property or room for *FREE on our dedicated website whether it’s vacant now or is soon to be vacant
  • Recognition that you are a landlord providing a high standard of accommodation.
  • Exclusive discounts on HMO Licence Fee, Pest Control Services and Inventory/Check-Out Services
  • Access to a wide range of potential tenants
  • Supporting your local community

Use the checklist below to help prepare your property for accreditation under the Reading Rent With Confidence Scheme:

  • Properties being modernised and in very good decorative repair.
  • Safe & secure properties and good management practices.
  • A maximum deposit up to a maximum of five weeks.
  • Regular recorded property inspections.
  • Fire, Heat, Carbon monoxide detectors to be fitted and checked annually.
  • Target response times for emergencies and other requests.
  • Written and recorded inventory for check-in and check-out.
  • Gas/ Electrical certificates provided to tenants and Local Authority.
  • No rental increases within fixed term tenancies (12 months or less).
  • Providing adequate storage for refuse and recycling & share relevant waste and recycling information with all tenants.
  • Providing, where possible, long-term tenancies (e.g. 2 year tenancies).

Ticked every box? Apply now for FREE* by visiting our website:

*This offer may be withdrawn or subject to change at any time, in accordance with our terms and conditions. Acceptance onto the scheme is subject to applicants meeting the required ‘scheme criteria’ and at the discretion of Reading Borough Council, in accordance with our terms and conditions. Please visit our website or contact us for further information.

Contact us for more information via: Email –

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service issues safety guidance amid an alarming rise in e-bike and e-scooter fires

Lithium-ion batteries used to power new urban transport can cause ferocious and explosive fires if they are of poor quality or are misused.

E-bikes and e-scooters with lithium-ion batteries can catch fire quickly and with little warning. That’s the message from Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) which is issuing fire safety guidance to residents of Berkshire following an alarming rise in the number of serious fire-related incidents caused by these new modes of urban transport.

The danger occurs when e-bikes and e-scooters are left on charge unattended in homes or in communal areas such as hallways and stairwells, blocking emergency escape routes in multi-occupied buildings. The risk increases particularly when they are charged indoors, especially overnight when occupants are asleep.

According to the National Fire Chiefs Council, there is only a limited amount data relating to the number of fires, but London Fire Brigade reported eight fires caused by e-bikes and e-scooters in 2019. This rose to 24 in 2020 and 59 by December 2021. While a freedom of information request (FOI) from ITV News recently revealed an increase of more than 400% in two years.

There has been a dramatic surge in sales of e-bikes and e-scooters. Most are powered by lithium-ion batteries, similar to the technology used in mobile phones; and with increased use, comes a corresponding fire safety concern associated with their charging and storage.

Advice from RBFRS

Berkshire residents can help to protect themselves and others from the dangers of e-bike, e-scooter or lithium-ion battery fires by following this guidance:


  • If possible, avoid charging e-bikes and e-scooters indoors.
  • Avoid storing or charging e-bikes and e-scooters in communal areas as this can affect people’s ability to escape.
  • Charge batteries whilst you are awake and alert and do not charge them if you are away from home.
  • Avoid charging near combustible or flammable materials.
  • Ensure your smoke alarms are working. If you charge or store your e-bike or e-scooter in a garage or kitchen, ensure you install the correct detection equipment. We recommend heat alarms rather than smoke detectors for these areas.
  • Always use the manufacturer approved charger for the product and carefully follow the instructions.
  • Unplug the charger when you have finished using it.
  • Check your battery regularly for any signs of damage.
  • Do not cover chargers or battery packs when charging as this could lead to overheating or a fire.
  • Do not overcharge your battery. Check the instructions for charge times.
  • If you need to dispose of a damaged or end of life battery, don’t dispose of it in your household waste or normal recycling.


  • Responsible Persons (RPs) should consider the risks associated with e-bikes and e-scooters regarding where they are being charged such as common areas, bike stores and mobility scooter charging rooms. Escape routes should be kept clear at all times and RPs may wish to advise residents on the safe use, storage and charging of these products.
  • E-bikes, e-scooters and their batteries should be stored in a cool place, avoiding excessively hot or cold areas.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the storage and maintenance of lithium-ion batteries, particularly if they are not going to be used for extended periods of time.

For further fire safety information, visit the RBFRS website.  We have also updated out website with fire safety information.

HMO licensing

Mandatory HMO licensing was extended from 1st October 2018, so that all HMOs occupied by 5 or more people require a HMO licence (not just those with 3 storeys).  This can now include some flats and even bungalows. We have over 1300 licences on the scheme and we are currently processing around 120 licence applications.

Applications for licences are now to be submitted online only, this includes licence renewals; we aim to write to licence holders who have expiring licences with details, so please make sure you have provided up to date contact details to us. 

Guidance on the HMO licence process and a link to the online form is available at:   

We are looking at further improvements to the online process.  If you have any feedback on the current system, please e-mail us at:   

We have seen some landlords come out of the HMO market or letting to smaller groups recently.  Please also notify us of changes of address and alterations to the property layout. Please do contact us when this happens.  If your property is no longer licensable and you have a licence reference that begins with RBC followed by 11 digits, please go to: Cancel a licence | Reading Borough Council  If you have a shorter 5 digit reference, then please email us at: so that we can update our records.  

Minimum Energy Efficiency standard (MEES) 

The Domestic Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) Regulations set a minimum energy efficiency level for domestic private rented properties.

The Regulations apply to all domestic private rented properties that are:

  • let on specific types of tenancy agreement
  • legally required to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

The current minimum energy efficiency rating, i.e. the figure shown on your energy performance certificate, is E.  This means that F and G rated properties cannot be rented out.  There are certain exemptions, but if you want to rely on these exemptions, you must register them on a national register.

The prohibition on letting property below an EPC rating of E does not apply if the cost of making even the cheapest recommended improvement would exceed £3,500 (inc. VAT).

Where all the “relevant energy efficiency improvements” for the property have been made (or there are none that can be made) and the property remains sub-standard, an exemption can be applied.

Where the landlord has obtained written expert advice indicating that the recommended measure is not appropriate for the property due to its potential negative impact on the fabric or structure of the property (can apply to cavity wall insulation, external wall insulation or internal wall insulation (for external walls)).

Where improvements cannot be made because consent could not be obtained from a third party, you may be able to register this as an exemption for 5 years.

An exemption from meeting the minimum standard will apply where the landlord has obtained a report from an independent surveyor who is on the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) register of valuers advising that the installation of specific energy efficiency measures would reduce the market value of the property, or the building it forms part of, by more than five per cent.

New landlords may also be able to apply for an exemption of 6 months, in certain circumstances.

There are proposals for this minimum rating to increase over time to a C- rating.  Landlords are advised to look now at whether their property already complies with the current minimum rating and whether the correct exemption has been registered.

Landlords are advised to check the guidance at:

Domestic private rented property: minimum energy efficiency standard – landlord guidance – GOV.UK (

Guidance on PRS exemptions and Exemptions Register evidence requirements – GOV.UK (

To register an exemption, please visit:

Changes to Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Regulations

The regulations on smoke and carbon monoxide alarms were updated in October 2022; the updated regulations require you to:

  1. Ensure at least one smoke alarm is equipped on each storey of their homes where there is a room used as living accommodation. This has been a legal requirement in the private rented sector since 2015.
  2. Ensure a carbon monoxide alarm is equipped in any room used as living accommodation which contains solid fuel or a fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers).  Previously only solid fuel was included.
  3. Ensure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are repaired or replaced once informed and found that they are faulty.

Remember also that if you have a HMO licence, there is likely to be an additional requirement to place carbon monoxide alarms in rooms with a gas cooker or hob, as part of your licence conditions.

We can impose a fine of up to £5,000 where a landlord fails to comply with a remedial notice.  Please check that your property is up to date.

Building Safety Act – fire safety in tall buildings

The council has been working with Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service to keep track of and keep action moving on tall building fire safety, following the Grenfell fire and the public inquiry that has revealed defects in the way certain buildings were constructed.  The Building Safety Act 2022 has created legal protections for leaseholders from building safety costs associated with past work. It protects qualifying leaseholders from all costs relating to the remediation of unsafe cladding systems and contains protections from non-cladding remediation costs too.

The building owner will be responsible for covering these costs of the cladding remediation. This also applies to those with certain leases in buildings still owned by, or associated with, the original developer.  The building owner may wish to pursue the developer, contractor, or other professional who they consider to be directly responsible for carrying out the defective work. They may also be eligible for government funding (the Building Safety Fund).

Qualifying leaseholders can apply to the Property Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal for a Remediation Order requiring a building owner or other person with repairing obligations to remedy certain relevant defects. Where a building owner has a remediation order applied and they are not fixing the defect, then it is enforceable by the county court.  Where the building owner or developer has not remediated the building in the specified timeframe, they can be held in contempt of court, this can be punishable by a fine or up to 2 years in prison.

Qualifying leaseholders can also apply for a Remediation Contribution Order requiring a company to make payments in connection with the remediation of relevant defects. This includes costs already paid towards remediation before the leaseholder protections came into force.

More information on the obligations of building owners can be found here:

Free information and advice for leaseholders is available from the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE)

In addition, in January this year the government wrote to major housebuilders and other large developers requesting them to sign a developer remediation contract. This contract requires developers to:

  • Take responsibility for all necessary work to address life-critical fire-safety defects arising from the design and construction of buildings 11 metres and over in height that they developed or refurbished in England over the 30 years prior to 5 April 2022.
  • Keep residents in those buildings informed about progress towards meeting this commitment.
  • Reimburse taxpayers for funding spent on remediating their buildings.

Developers who refuse to sign the contract or fail to comply with its terms face significant consequences.

Upcoming changes in legislation

 Many landlords will be aware of proposed changes to landlord and tenant law currently being considered by Parliament.  It is too early to be certain what the new regulations will be, or when they might come into force, but some key points are:

  • The end of section 21 of the Housing act 1988, removing the option for a ‘no fault’ eviction process.
  • Changes to landlord possession grounds.
  • Changes to rent increase restrictions.
  • A proposal to allow pets as part of tenancy agreements.
  • Introduction of a landlord portal (which is a kind of landlord register)
  • Proposals to introduce redress schemes for landlords (similar to those for letting and managing agents.

This is a developing piece of legislation; it is too soon to know which of these may become law or what time period this may happen in, but we recommend you keep an eye out for these changes.

There are other proposals which are not yet included in the Renters Reform Bill

  • Proposals for a new Decent Homes standard.  This might introduce some new minimum standards on amenities in the private rented sector.
  • An update to the Housing Health and Safety rating System (HHSRS) and accompanying guidance.
  • An update to the Minimum Energy Efficiency standard (MEES).  This minimum energy rating is expected to increase from the current E-rating

Last updated on 28/02/2024