There are many health and safety requirements that a landlord must abide by in order to ensure the safety of their tenants.
These regulations mostly have to do with fire safety, gas and electricity, central heating systems and ventilation. It is up to the landlord to see that the property is safe and complies with all requirements.
Laws and Regulations
Buy-to-let properties should comply with the acts and regulations found below:
The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2004
Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
Health & Safety at Work Act 1974
The Gas Safety Regulation Act 1998
It is the responsibility of the landlord to see that the gas supplied as well as appliances that use gas have been installed and maintained by a qualified professional as it applies to the above regulations.
This includes annual safety checks performed by a registered and qualified engineer or fitter. It is required that they are registered on the Gas Safety Register and they must carry an identification card that shows their license number. It is up to the landlord to check this card before a job has been started.
It is also up to the landlord to keep copies of the safety check certificates. One copy is to be given to the tenant to keep for their records when they begin tenancy. Each rental property must have a valid certificate, according the Gas Safety Regulation Act of 1998. This helps to protect the landlords to ensure that the gas lines are safe and have been maintained according to regulations.
Things to keep in mind
The landlord must have a valid certificate for each property they own.
Yearly safety checks are mandatory
Only a registered and qualified engineer can perform safety checks
Call the National Gas Emergency Helpline at 0800 111 999 if you smell gas emissions on a property
Like the gas supply, it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the electrical wiring and related items are in working order. While there are no annual inspections required by government, the landlord should take the initiative to inspect outlets, wires, and other areas for the sake of their tenants’ safety.
Electrical installations include sockets, plugs and adapters are the responsibility of the landlord. According to the Plugs and Sockets (Safety) Regulations of 1994, it is the landlord’s job to see that the neutral and live wires in plugs are properly insulated to prevent shock or other injury when a plug is removed from a socket. They also need to ensure that plugs are pre-wired accordingly.
In the case of a buy-to-let property, that is a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO); a qualified electrician must do electrical safety checks every five years. Many converted blocks of flats, shared homes, bed sits and flat shares must comply with this requirement. This applies to blocks of flats that have not been converted in compliance with building regulations since 1991 or later. In the case of flats where the landlord owns less than two-thirds, this rule also applies.
Things to keep in mind
Avoid trailing leads and multiple point adapters
Use plugs that are fitted and used only if they are marked “B Section 136″
Avoid using worn or frayed electrical leads as well as exposed joins
Avoid exposed electrical parts
Ensure that plug sockets are secure to the skirting board or wall
Keep operating parts in a safe place
If using a microwave oven, it should be clean and free from rust or corrosion.
Electric blankets should be used and serviced according to manufacturer’s guidelines
Appliances should be maintained and served. This includes washing machines, electrical cookers, etc.
All heaters should be serviced annually
All fireguards should be in accordance with Regulation BS3248
All fire extinguishers are to be marked with BS6575 1985
All landlords are to comply with the Fire Safety Housing Act 2004 and Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order of 2005 to ensure the safety of their buy-to-let property.
It is a good idea to keep fire blankets and extinguishers in the kitchen of every unit on the property, though not required by law. It is required that fire extinguishers are serviced once a year and should not be used by anyone who is not trained to operate one.
Properties built after June 1982 must have a mains-operated, inter-connecting smoke alarm on each floor, according to building regulations. Though this is not required of older buildings, it may be a good idea to install a battery-operated alarm on each floor of the property. Either the landlord, letting agent or tenant may be held responsible for the maintenance of the alarm in their unit.
More Fire Safety Rules
Here are some regulations that landlords should be familiar with:
Bedding sets, including headboards
Living room furniture, such as a sofa or futon
Bean bags and functional pillows
Murphy beds, loungers and garden seats
Emergency Performance Certificate (EPC)
The EPC was one part of the Home Information Pack (HIP) and this is required for any property that rented to another party. Qualifying criteria include:
A self-contained residence
A residence that does not share a kitchen or bath with another residence
Has its own private entrance
A registered assessor should always prepare an EPC but it is highly recommended that one shop around as the cost may vary. Once this process is completed, the EPC is valid for 10 years, even when the property is not being rented to another party.
EPCs that were once part of the HIP may still be valid for renting. However, if the property has been altered to contain fewer or more units, then a separate certificate is required for each.
EPC data includes the property’s energy efficiency rating and carbon dioxide emissions, which are rated on a scale of A-G, with “A” being the most efficient. Calculations are a result of the standard consumption of energy and its cost at the time of the EPC was prepared.
The EPC will make recommendations on how a property may improve their rating; a landlord is not obligated by law to make these changes.
Having the EPC is mandatory before a property can be rented to another party. Copies may be given to prospective tenants at no charge and copies must always be made available at request. Before signing a lease, one copy of the EPC, along with the recommendation report must be given to tenants.
About the Author
My name is Sandra Hamilton and have had many years experience of blogging on a wide range of topics including landlord insurance, indemnity insurance, Business Insurance and liability. To read more about these topics then please do visit Lifesure at http://www.lifesure.co.uk/landlord-insurance/.