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Landlord Safety Checks and Other Legal Requirements

By Anthony Irving  //  Mon 8th January 2024
Landlords have a duty of care for their tenants and are legally responsible for providing safe accommodation. Failure to do so can result in hefty fines or even a prison sentence.
Landlord safety checks

This article provides essential information about landlords' legal responsibilities, including safety checks, to help make sure you are compliant with the required rules. 

  

Landlord Safety Checks 

As a landlord, there are several types of safety checks that you are responsible for having completed in your rental properties. These are: 

  

Electrical Safety Checks 

As of 1st June 2020, landlords must ensure that all electrical installations in their rented property are inspected and tested by a registered electrician. The electrician will test the fixed electrical systems, including wiring, plug sockets, light fittings, fuse boxes, electric showers and extractor fans.  

 

You will be provided with an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) that will either confirm that all the electrical installations meet safety standards or highlight areas where further investigation or repair is required. In the latter case, you must take action within four weeks or sooner if specified in the report. Rental properties should have an electrical safety inspection at least once every five years.  Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is not a legal requirement for landlords. Still, it is an excellent way to ensure your rental property is safe. We recommend that there's an annual PAT testing provided by the landlord. 

  

Gas Safety Checks

If you provide the tenant with gas appliances, then you must ensure they are safely installed by a Gas Safe registered engineer. All gas appliances and flues must also have an annual gas safety check by a Gas Safe registered engineer.  

 

This involves conducting an annual gas safety check on each appliance, such as gas hobs, ovens, fires and boilers. Gas Safety Certificates are issued once all the checks have been completed and requirements are met.
 
Landlords must supply all new tenants with a copy of the gas safety check record before they move in, or for existing tenants, within 28 days of the check being carried out. You can read the Gas Safety Installation and Use Regulations 1998 for further information. 

  

Fire Safety Checks 

By law, landlords must comply with the fire safety regulations required for the property type. These include the following fire safety checks: 

  

Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms 

Landlords should install at least one smoke alarm on every floor and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel-burning appliance, such as a coal fire or wood-burning stove.  

 

On the first day of the new tenancy, you or your agent must ensure the alarms are properly working. Even if a carbon monoxide alarm isn't legally required, most landlords provide one to give themselves and their tenants peace of mind.  Your tenants are responsible for checking the alarms during the tenancy.
 
They should report any issues to you or your letting agent immediately. It is also good practice for the landlord to check these during any periodic property inspections.  If you are letting a large house in multiple occupation (HMO), you will have additional fire safety regulations. You must carry out a fire risk assessment and provide mains-operated alarms and fire extinguishers.
 

Furniture and furnishings

As a landlord, if you let out property fully or partly furnished, you must ensure the furniture meets legal safety standards for fire resistance. All furniture should have a permanent label demonstrating compliance. 

 

The regulations apply to beds, mattresses, sofas, chairs, tables and futons. They do not apply to duvets, curtains and carpets. 

  

Other Fire Safety Measures 

Landlords can take additional measures to improve fire safety for rental properties, such as providing fire equipment. This includes fire extinguishers and fire blankets for tenants to use.  

 

Providing this equipment is not a legal requirement unless the property is an HMO, but protecting tenants from fire risks could help prevent or limit property damage in the event of a fire. Documenting the fire escape routes is also advisable.  

  

Legionella Risk Assessment 

Legionella is a hazardous bacteria that can be found in water and can cause a form of pneumonia. 

 

Landlords have a legal duty to assess and control the risk of exposure to legionella bacteria. This does not have to take the form of a professional test. Still, landlords should undertake a risk assessment themselves at a minimum. 
 
The risks from hot and cold water systems in most residential settings are generally low due to regular water usage and turnover. 

  

As a landlord, you should: 

  • Ensure cold water tanks have tight-fitting lids.
  • Set the temperature of your hot water cylinder to at least 60°c.
  • If your property is vacant for an extended period, flush out the system before re-letting. 

The risk of legionella is very low in properties with a combi boiler as the system keeps the water moving, preventing the bacteria from forming.  

  

Security Checks 

Make sure there are appropriate locks on doors and windows and that boundaries are well maintained. It would be best to install some external security lighting.

 

Make sure you know who has keys to exterior doors and that only the tenants, property manager, and landlord can enter the property. 

  

Other Legal Requirements 

In addition to safety checks and security checks, there are some more legal requirements to be aware of that you will need to adhere to as a landlord:  

  

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) 

Landlords must provide all prospective tenants with a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), which grades the energy efficiency of the property from grade A (most efficient) to G (least efficient). 

 

The certificate will provide an estimate of the energy costs of the property and make suggestions on the improvements that can be made to improve its efficiency. It will also provide you with an estimate of the short-term costs and long-term savings that could be made.  EPCs are valid for 10 years, and landlords without a valid EPC could be fined up to £5,000.
 
Since April 2020, all existing tenancies must have a minimum EPC rating of E. The government had outlined upcoming changes for the minimum rating to be increased to C or higher, but these proposed changes have been put on hold.
 
However, EPC rules could still be changed in the future, so landlords should prioritise improving the energy efficiency of their properties to reduce costs for any required energy efficiency improvements in the future.  

  

Proof of Deposit Protection 

Along with the above certificates, landlords must ensure their tenant's deposit is placed into a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of receiving the funds. This ensures that the tenant's money is kept safe and will also be distributed fairly if any disputes arise at the end of the tenancy. 

 

It's also a requirement that you provide the tenant with information about which scheme you have placed their deposit in. 

  

Right to Rent Checks 

Landlords are responsible for checking that tenants have the legal right to live in England. This involves checking ID and immigration documents, and the check must be completed for any tenants aged 18 and over. If you have an agent managing the letting, they usually complete the Right to Rent checks on your behalf. 

  

How to Rent Checklist

There is a government guide called 'How To Rent: The Checklist' for renting in England, and landlords must provide a current version of the guide to their tenants before the tenancy starts. The guide includes information on the different processes involved in renting a property in England. 

  

Landlord House Inspection Checklist 

Property inspections are essential to ensuring that your property is safe for your tenants and are typically carried out quarterly. During the property inspection, you should be looking out for any health and safety issues, such as: 

  

Damp and Mould 

Damp and mould can be severe health risks and are easily overlooked by tenants. It is much easier to deal with damp and mould if you address the problem early. 

 

Check around windows and sinks and pay particular attention to moisture-prone rooms, such as the kitchen and bathrooms. Make sure that any extractor fans are working. Read our article' Damp and Mould in Rented Property' for more information on what to do if you notice any dampness or mould in your property. 

  

Fixtures and Fittings 

Give any items you have provided a once-over to check they are in good working order. 

  

Clear Escape Routes 

Check that your tenants keep landings and stairways clear of obstacles so they can easily escape in case of a fire. 

  

Waste Removal 

Check for overflowing bins and rubbish in the garden, which could encourage rats, mice or other pests. 

  

If you are a London landlord looking for guidance on complying with safety check requirements and other legal obligations for letting property in London, contact Plaza Estates, and we'll be happy to assist you.

Offices at

Marble Arch
29 Edgware Road
London
W2 2JE
f: 020-7258-3090
Knightsbridge
34 Beauchamp Place
London
SW3 1NU
f: 020-7581-7005