This article provides essential information about landlords' legal responsibilities, including safety checks, to help make sure you are compliant with the required rules.
As a landlord, there are several types of safety checks that you are responsible for having completed in your rental properties. These are:
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.
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.
By law, landlords must comply with the fire safety regulations required for the property type. These include the following fire safety checks:
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.
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.
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 is a hazardous bacteria that can be found in water and can cause a form of pneumonia.
As a landlord, you should:
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 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.
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:
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Give any items you have provided a once-over to check they are in good working order.
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, 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.