There are a number of safety regulations that govern the letting of residential property to which landlords must comply. The penalties for failing to do so are severe and could result in heavy fines and/or imprisonment.
Main safety considerations:
Gas safety - Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, landlords must arrange to have all gas appliances, pipework, fittings and flues checked every year by a Gas Safe registered engineer – http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg285.pdf
Electrical equipment – You aren’t required by law to get your electrical supply and appliances checked. However, there are lots of regulations covering electrics and you do have a duty of care to your tenant. It’s good practice to arrange for a portable appliance test (PAT) for all the electrical appliances in your property before you let it.
Furniture and furnishings – To minimise the risk of fire, the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 set out requirements for soft furnishings, such as cushions, beds, sofas and pillows. It’s illegal to provide furnishings that do not comply. www.firesafe.org.uk
Smoke alarms – All properties built after 1991 must be fitted with mains-powered smoke alarms. For older houses, the rules are less clear-cut, so the best advice we can give is to get them fitted without question. Smoke alarms are cheap and are easy to fit – and they save lives and your property!
Tenancy Deposits - The Deposit Protection Service or The DPS is the Government-authorised custodial scheme where all funds are ring fenced in accordance with client money regulations. An independent and free Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service will aim to resolve any disputes quickly and without the need for court action. The DPS is managed by Computershare Investor Services Plc, a global business with more than ten years’ deposit protection experience. The aim of Tenancy deposit schemes is to protect tenants’ deposits and to offer independent arbitration in any dispute about returning all or part of the deposit at the end of a tenancy. Tenants are more likely to look after the property if they know their money is being held as part of an official scheme.
Maintenance & Repairs - Under the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1985, landlords are obligated to keep the structure and exterior of the property in a good state of repair. You have final responsibility for ensuring that the following areas are safe and fit for use, as well as effecting repairs when necessary to restore them to a fair condition:
- The structure and exterior of the property.
- Any hot water installations, as well as the supply of water itself.
- Basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary or drainage installations.
- Ensuring an adequate provision of lighting, heating and ventilation.
- Treating of any health-threatening damp that occurs (not to be confused with condensation, a more common but less serious problem caused mostly by poor ventilation).
- In flats and maisonettes you must also repair any other areas or installations which you own or control and whose disrepair would affect the tenant.
- Anything else that you mutually agree with the tenant in the tenancy agreement.
Bills & Services
It is usually the tenants’ responsibility to arrange for the services of the major utilities such as gas, electricity, telephone, television and Council Tax. The responsibility for such bills should be clearly stated in the tenancy agreement. However it is extremely important that the utilities and Council tax provider is informed of a changed of occupier in order for the correct person to be made liable.