Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
From 1st October 2008 it is essential for all landlords to obtain an EPC before marketing a property for rent. The EPC is valid for ten years and must be available to all tenants.
Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998
The Gas Safety (Installation and use) Regulations 1998 state that it is the duty of any landlord who owns a property with a gas appliance or with gas pipework installed to ensure that such appliances, pipework and flues are maintained in a safe condition so as to prevent risk or injury. Gas appliances will include any appliances designed to use mains, propane or calor gas, for the purposes of heating, lighting, cooking or any other purpose for which gas can be used. Gas pipework would also cover all gas pipework, valves, regulators and meters. Under the legislation, it is compulsory for all landlords to ensure that a gas safety check is carried out every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer. A tenancy cannot go ahead without the gas safety certificate in place and a copy must be provided to the tenants and held on file by the agents.
Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 make it a legal requirement to install a minimum of one smoke alarm on every level of a rented property that is used as living accommodation. This means a smoke alarm must also be installed where the hallway, landing or staircase entrance is on a separate level. This is the landlord's responsibility and all the alarms must also be tested and confirmed to be in full working order at the start of a new tenancy. It is the tenant’s responsibility to ensure that all alarms remain in working order for the duration of the tenancy. Tenants must report any faults and replace batteries where necessary. Non-adherence to these regulations could result in a civil penalty fine from the local housing authority.
Carbon monoxide alarms are only a legal requirement in rental properties with 'solid fuel burning combustion appliances'. This means that all properties with a wood burning stove or a coal fire will require carbon monoxide alarm.
Fire and Safety
It is a legal requirement that any furniture used in a property to be let, complies with the Fire and Furnishings regulations. These are explained below.
The Furniture and Furnishings(Fire) (Safety) (Amendment)
These regulations aim to improve safety by requiring all furniture and furnishings in rented properties to pass the 'cigarette test'.
New furniture is marked with a Kite ticket to show that it passes the test.
Property that was first let Prior to 1st March 1993
The transitional period expired on 31st December 1996 during which time all existing furniture (to which the regulations apply) which was supplied and already in use in the same letting property before 1st March 1993 could continue to be used until 31st December 1996 whether or not there was a change in tenants.
After 1st January 1997 all furniture and furnishings supplied, whether new or old, and whether or not previously incorporated in a letting, had to comply.
Property that was not let Prior to 1st March 1993
All upholstered furniture and furnishings in accommodation made available for letting for the first time since 1st March 1993 must meet the Requirements.
Furniture and Furnishings that have to Comply
The Regulations apply to all upholstery and upholstered furniture and loose fittings, permanent or loose covers including : beds, mattresses, pillow, sofas, armchairs, scatter cushions and beanbags.
Carpets and curtains are not covered by the Regulations.
Introducing New Furniture
All furniture and furnishings introduced into a let property after 1st March 1993 must comply with the Regulations. Most furniture manufactured since 1983 will probably comply.
Exclusions to the Regulations
Furniture that was manufactured before 1st January 1950 does not need to comply with the regulations, as apparently the inflammable materials were not in use prior to 1950. This exempts 'period' or antique furniture.
Penalties for Non Compliance
The offence carries a punishment of six months' imprisonment or a 'level 5' fine (currently £5,000), or both.
The safety of Consumer Goods is controlled by the requirements of the Consumer Protection Act 1987. These requirements extend to 'consumer goods' supplied in the course of business - in this case rented accommodation. The landlord is responsible for ensuring that safety rules are complied with - in particular that all electrical appliances are safe for use i.e. that there should be no risk, apart from one reduced to a minimum, that the electrical equipment will in any way cause death or personal injury to any person.
Other legislation (principally The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994) covers electrical installations and the safest way of avoiding prosecution for breach of one of the many regulations is to ensure that everything in the rented property is regularly checked and serviced.
Most items which have been purchased since June 1989 should meet British Standards.
If an appliance is older than this it should be checked by a competent electrician.
Electrical Equipment should be checked for the following:
- Live parts should not be accessible.
- Leads should not be worn or frayed and be complete with no joins.
- Correct plugs (marked BS1363) should be fitted and correctly fused.
- Any moving parts should be guarded.
- Electric blankets should be serviced according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Microwave doors should be clean, free from corrosion and effective.
- Washing machines, cookers etc, should be serviced and in good working order.
- Electric heaters and central heating appliances should be serviced annually.
- Fireguards should meet BS3248.
- Any fire extinguishers should meet BS3248.
- Fire blankets should be marked BS6575 1985.
- Smoke Alarms
The Building Regulations 1991 require that all properties built since June 1992 must have mains operated interlinked smoke alarms fitted on every floor.
There are no such regulations regarding older property but it is recommended that smoke alarms be fitted to all properties.
Risks Posed By Blinds
The British Standards Institution published new standards in 2014 based upon the European Standards on safety requirements to address risks posed to children by internal blinds, curtains, corded window coverings and safety devices. Anything used for internal blinds or curtain tracks including, but not limited to, vertical blinds, roller blinds, Roman blinds, and plantation shutters are now subject to the regulations published by the British Standards Institution. The regulations apply to all properties where children are present.
New blinds being fitted must comply with the regulations and have built-in safety systems. If it is not possible due to the window shape or location, separate safety systems should be used such as chain or cord tensioners. Properties where blinds are already installed can still be made safe. If your properties are furnished, cots, playpens, and other furniture should be placed away from windows to avoid children climbing up.
Legionella are natural bacteria found in water. The bacteria multiply at temperatures between 20-45 °C and do not survive above 60 °C. The most common sources of Legionella and legionnaires disease outbreaks are from domestic hot and cold water systems sink taps and shower heads. Legionnaires disease is a severe type of pneumonia caused by inhaling airborne water droplets containing the bacteria. Legionnaires' disease is not contagious. The disease is transmitted via drinking water, not by infected persons. The elderly, smokers and those with diabetes or chronic respiratory or kidney disease are more at risk.
Health and safety laws advise that it is the landlords’ duty to assess the risk from exposure to Legionella to ensure the safety of their tenants. The risks from hot and cold water systems in most residential properties are generally considered to be low owing to regular water usage and turnover. An assessment carried out may show that there are no real risks and that the property is being properly managed and maintained and no further action is required. It is important to review the assessment in case anything changes in the system.
Following simple measures can ensure that the risk remains low. For most domestic hot and cold water systems, temperature is the most reliable way of ensuring the risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria is minimised ie keep the hot water hot, cold water cold and keep it moving. Other simple measures to help control the risk of exposure to Legionella include:
- flushing out the system prior to letting the property
- avoiding debris getting into the system (eg ensure the cold water tanks, where fitted, have a tight fitting lid)
- setting control parameters (eg setting the temperature of the hot water cylinder (calorifier) to ensure water is stored at 60°C)
- make sure any redundant pipework identified is removed.
The risk is further lowered where combi boilers and electric showers are installed because there is no water storage.
Where a house is divided into flats, the Landlord retains control and occupation of all the commons ways. Legislation such as the Housing (Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation) Regulations 1990, the Occupiers Liability Act 1958 and the Housing Act 1985 place responsibility on all landlords for the safety of tenants and visitors and anyone else who comes into the building.
All fire safety regulations must be adhered to and there must be full provision of such fire precaution works as the local authority or fire service may require.
Right To Rent
Right to Rent' is a new law introduced as part of The Immigration Act. The Immigration Act 2014 places restrictions on illegal immigrants accessing rented accommodation, and took effect across England from 1st February 2016. The immigration status or 'Right to Rent' of all occupants aged 18 and over must be proven by a tenant and confirmed by a landlord before a tenancy is offered. All adults with tenancy agreements starting on or after 1st February 2016 should expect to have their original ID (and visa if applicable) checked by their landlord. If an adult does not have the right to rent in the UK then a tenancy agreement must not be offered to them. If a tenancy is offered without conducting the process outlined above then a civil penalty can be imposed if a landlord is found to be renting a property/room to someone who is in the UK illegally.