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.
This handy checklist will help you understand your responsibilities and ensure you are doing everything you can to keep your tenants safe.
From 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 installations, including wiring, plug sockets, light fittings, fuse boxes, electric showers and extractor fans. You will be provided with a report 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.
Portal appliance (PAT) testing is not a legal requirement for landlords, but it is an excellent way to ensure your rental property is safe. We recommend annual PAT testing of electrical appliances provided by the landlord.
All gas equipment and flues must be checked annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer. This includes gas hobs, ovens, fires and boilers. Landlords must supply new tenants with a copy of the gas safety check record before they move in or within 28 days of the check being carried out.
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 fuel-burning appliance, such as a boiler or gas/wood fire. On the first day of the tenancy, you or your letting agent must ensure that the alarms are in proper working order.
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 as soon as possible.
If you are letting a large house in multiple occupation (HMO), you are required to 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 that the furniture meets legal safety standards for fire resistance. All furniture should have a permanent label demonstrating compliance.
The regulations apply to things like beds, mattresses, sofas, chairs, tables and futons. They do not apply to duvets, curtains and carpets.
Legionella is hazardous bacteria that can be found in water which can cause a form of pneumonia.
Landlords have a legal duty to access and control the risk of exposure to legionella bacteria. This does not have to take the form of a professional test, but landlords should, at a minimum, undertake a risk assessment themselves.
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 a tight-fitting lid.
- Set the temperature of your hot water cylinder to at least 60oc
- 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.
Make sure there are appropriate locks on doors and windows and that boundaries are well maintained. It would be best if you also considered putting in 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.
Landlord house inspection checklist
Property inspections are an essential part of being a landlord and are typically carried out quarterly. During the property inspection, you should be looking out for any health and safety issues.
Damp and mould
This can be pretty dangerous and is easily overlooked by tenants. It is also easier to deal with damp and mould if you spot the problem early.
Check around windows and sinks and pay particular attention to rooms prone to moisture, 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.
Fixtures and fittings
Give any items you have provided a once over to check they are in good working order.
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms
Landlords are responsible for ensuring that all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are working at the start of the tenancy. It is the tenant's responsibility to check they are still working throughout the tenancy. However, it is a good practice to check these at a periodic inspection of your property.
Clear escape routes
Check that your tenants keep landings and stairways clear of obstacles so they can easily escape in case of a fire.
Check for overflowing bins and rubbish in the garden as this could encourage rats or mice.
If you are a London landlord looking for guidance and assistance in letting property in London, contact Plaza Estates, and we'll be happy to assist you.