Whether you’re a landlord looking for new tenants, or a tenant looking for a new family home, health and safety matters. It is a landlord’s responsibility to ensure that properties are free from hazards.
There are certain checks that must be conducted to ensure the safety of residents, visitors, and third parties, and there are other regulations and guidelines that may not require regular checks but safety still needs to be assured.
Failure to meet health and safety requirements could land you with a considerable fine, while tenants, visitors, and third parties could also claim for losses and injuries if they are involved in an accident caused by your negligence.
Below is a list of some of the most common and most important health and safety elements that landlords must adhere to, and that PDF Estates can manage on your behalf – we ensure that all engineers and service providers are accredited, where necessary, and competent, in all cases. We arrange for checks before the anniversary of them becoming due. We can also complete property checks and arrange for fire risk assessments to be conducted for you.
Gas safety checks are required every year, and it is vital that these checks are completed by a skilled, Capita registered gas engineer. As well as the safety aspects, this is an important safety check because failure to comply can lead to a fine of up to £25,000 as well as a potential prison sentence.
Checks need to be completed at the start of a tenancy agreement, and every year thereafter. You also need to provide a copy of the engineer’s report to your tenants within 28 days of it being completed.
The supply itself, as well as any gas appliances, need to be checked. Poor quality or damaged gas appliances can lead to fire and explosions, and they are one of the most dangerous hazards in a home, hence why such great importance is placed on these checks.
It is important that you have some electrical safety checks completed on a property. Although the criteria aren’t as strict as they are for gas safety checks, you do need to ensure that you have an electrical safety check conducted before a tenancy starts. This must be conducted by a competent professional. All equipment must be certified safe, must be maintained throughout a tenancy, and must be maintained or repaired by competent persons.
Failure to meet these standards could lead to a six-month prison sentence and a maximum fine of £5,000.
Although there is no current requirement for routine checks or even the provision of safety certificates, we believe that regular checks will become a legal requirement; most likely five-year checks.
What’s more, it is a legal requirement to ensure that electrical equipment is safe, so some landlords do pay to have regular checks on appliances and electrical supplies.
Fire safety requirements differ according to the type of rented accommodation you own.
A Fire Safety Order is required for landlords that control flats, apartments, and HMOs. This means that risk assessments must be conducted for any communal area, including hallways, kitchens, bathrooms, and living areas. The risk assessment must be in writing and appropriate fire safety equipment and protocols must be put in place.
Even if a property is not part of an HMO or block of flats, landlords still have a legal requirement to protect tenants from fire hazards.
There needs to be a reasonable means of escape from the property, in the event of a fire. One point that is sometimes overlooked is ensuring that tenants have access to all keys for windows and doors in a property, including window keys.
Smoke alarms and fire detectors are a requirement in HMOs, and must be mains wired. The same wiring restrictions do not apply in single tenancy buildings, but you should install working smoke alarms on each floor, and regularly check that they work properly.
Regulations regarding furniture and furnishings are primarily concerned with fire safety, and while they are more important for landlords that rent out furnished and part-furnished accommodation, even beds, headboards, window seats, and some garden furniture may require testing to ensure safety standards are met.
All relevant items of furniture must meet Furniture and Furnishings Regulation standards. Items manufactured since 1989 should include a label that clearly states that the furniture meets these regulations.
If furniture is found that does not meet these requirements, it could carry a potential fine of up to £5,000 and a possible prison sentence of six months. Although checks on furniture are rarely carried out, if there is a fire and any item of furniture is found that did not meet these standards, you could end up being charged with a criminal offence.
Carbon monoxide forms when fuel is not fully or properly burned. Gas and electrical supplies are covered by other regulations, and should be maintained to a standard that carbon monoxide is highly unlikely to escape. However, gas and electrical safety regulations do not cover hard fuel sources. If a property has coal fires or wood burning stoves, then you are legally required to have carbon monoxide alarms in every room that uses these fuel sources.
If an open fire is purely decorative and cannot be used, it is not covered by legislation so there is no need to install a carbon monoxide alarm. In contrast, if there is a working fuel burning appliance in any room, even if it is not normally used, then an alarm must be fitted and in full working order.
Legionnaires’ Disease is a form of pneumonia that is caused by bacteria. The bacteria can be found in mist and water sources, and symptoms include fever, chills, a cough, and aching joints. Legionnaires’ is potentially life threatening and there is an inherent risk of catching this deadly disease in poorly maintained properties.
With that said, the risk of Legionnaires’ being contracted from the cold and hot water systems is only considered to be very low. A simple risk assessment is required, by law, to identify the potential risk and level of risk. Some simple tasks, such as flushing out the water system and ensuring that cold water tanks have a tight-fitting lid, can help to greatly reduce risk. It is worth considering these checks before the commencement of any tenancy agreement.
PDF Estates takes the health and safety concerns of its tenants seriously.
We offer full landlord services, which include the checking of water supplies, conducting risk assessments for Legionnaires’ disease, and ensuring that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are fitted. We can also arrange for accredited and licenced gas engineers, as well as competent electrical engineers, to complete regular checks on your property, not only ensuring that you meet legal requirements but helping to maintain a positive and lasting relationship with your tenants. Call us today on 020 3815 7952 to talk about your requirements, or to ask us about our 3 free month Landlord offer.