More and more legislation is coming out every year, making it increasingly difficult for Landlords to comply. Even though some of the legislation is not ‘statutory’, if anything does go wrong, then you may still end up with a fine or imprisonment. I t may well be better therefore to leave it to a professional letting agent to manage the whole process for you.
Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1988*
Gas Safety Legislation is statutory. If you do not comply, then you are breaking the law and will be prosecuted- often resulting in a fine or imprisonment. Pipework, appliances and flues must be maintained in a safe condition. Gas appliances must be serviced regularly in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions, or annually unless advised otherwise.
- An annual gas safety check must be carried out on every gas appliance/flue at the property and ensures that all gas fittings and appliances are safe to use.
- We recommend that you get all appliances serviced and a safety check done at the same time to save cost and to ensure that you comply.
- The regulations apply equally whether the gas comes from the mains, from a bottle or from a tank in the ground.
- If the Tenants have their own gas appliance, you are responsible for maintaining the pipework, but the Tenant is responsible for the safety of the appliance.
- All installation, maintenance and safety checks must be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety
Generally, we would recommend that you let the property unfurnished. The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) (Amended) Regulations 1993 require all upholstered furniture and furnishings (e.g. sofas, chairs, mattresses) supplied by the Landlord in rented properties to be fire retardant and to carry a fire retardant label. If a property fails to comply, the Landlord faces a fine or imprisonment. Generally, most furniture purchased after March 1990 should comply with the regulations and will be labelled accordingly.
Energy Performance Certificate, Ratings and Works*
Landlords of most properties (‘listed’ properties are excluded) must legally have a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) before letting out their property. An EPC should cost less than £100, lasts for 10 years and we are happy to order one for you. Although the penalty is £200 a day if you are caught, we are unable to act for you without one. A qualified ‘Domestic Energy Assessor’ will need to visit your property for about 45 minutes. Their main objective is to assess how energy efficient your property is currently and how efficient it could be following works. If you think you have an EPC but cannot find it, we can retrieve it online within a few seconds free of charge.
Tenants can now request that energy efficiency improvements be carried out and Landlords will not be able to unreasonably refuse consent. It will, however, be the responsibility of the Tenants to pay for any improvements.
From the 1st April 2018, any unlisted properties rented out in the private sector will have to have a minimum energy performance rating of E. For guidance on how to make sure your property is up to standard, visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-private-rented-property-minimum-standard-landlord-guidance-documents
How to Rent Guide*
The Landlord must also provide Tenants with a copy of the Department for Communities and Local Government’s publication “How to rent: The checklist for renting in England” – available at www.legislation.gov.uk (Assured Shorthold Tenancy notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015).
Electrical Safety (Electrical Equipment Safety)
Regulations 1994/ Landlords and Tenant Act 1995 Electrical safety legislation is not statutory, however if there is an accident, it may well still lead to a fine or imprisonment. Having an annual safety check on electrical equipment is not a statutory requirement.
You do, however, have a legal responsibility to ensure that electrical equipment and the electrical system are safe when the tenancy begins and that they are maintained in a safe condition throughout the tenancy. This means that you can’t be fined or imprisoned simply for not having a safety check – but you can be if an accident happens and you cannot satisfy the court that you took all reasonable steps to protect your Tenants!
- There are typically around 30 deaths and 4,000 accidents annually in the UK involving electrics, so we would strongly recommend a ‘Condition Report’ is carried out before the start of the tenancy (which usually lasts for 5 years).
- • Tenants should be left with copies of operating and safety instructions for ALL equipment in the property. If you don’t have them, please obtain copies from the internet.
Oil storage tanks and supply pipework should be checked regularly for general condition and any leaks repaired. There is no legal requirement to obtain an ‘oil’ safety certificate, however BS5410: Part 1 requires all oil fired appliances and equipment to be serviced regularly in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions. Oil storage tanks and oil supply pipework should therefore be checked regularly for general condition and any leaks repaired.
It is law to fit one smoke alarm per floor when letting out a property. All properties built since June 1992 (and all Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)) must be fitted with mains operated smoke detector/alarms and with at least one detector per floor. If the property was built prior to 1992, then the legal requirement is for Landlords to provide ‘long life’ smoke alarms on each floor.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Carbon Monoxide Alarms must be fitted in any room that is used partly or wholly as living accommodation which also contains any appliance which burns, or is capable of burning, solid fuel. This would include log and coal burning stoves and open fires, even if they are not normally in use. This does not include gas and oil boilers. If an open fireplace is purely decorative and not useable then it is not covered by the regulations.
Whilst gas is not a solid fuel, we would strongly recommend a Carbon Monoxide Alarm is also fitted in all rooms with a gas appliance.
Better to be safe than sorry, so it’s vital to fit safety and toughened glass where needed such as to a single glazed back door or internal glazed door near a staircase. To avoid serious injury, safety glass should be fitted in all doors, windows and glazed areas that are lower than 800mm from the floor level. Glass panels less than 250mm wide can be fitted with 6mm glass or laminated glass instead of toughened glass.
Landlords of residential accommodation have responsibilities for combating Legionnaires’ Disease. Health and safety legislation requires Landlords to carry out risk assessments for the Legionella bacteria which cause the disease and thereafter to maintain control measures to minimise the risk. Most rented premises will be low risk but it is important that risk assessments are carried out and control measures introduced. By way of example, Legionella bacteria could be found in cut off pipework or in an unused water supply.
Immigration Act 2014
All Landlords in England are obliged to check their Tenant’s status and Right to Rent. The government is making it harder for illegal immigrants to rent accommodation. The Immigration
Act 2014 introduced a requirement for Landlords of private rental accommodation to conduct checks to establish that new Tenants have the right to rent in the UK. Landlords who rent to illegal migrants without conducting these checks will be liable for a fine.
*Required to serve a Section 21 Notice to end an assured Shorthold Tenancy. All of these documents and certificates must have been provided to the Tenant first.