Landlords have a duty of care for their tenants and are legally responsible for providing safe accommodation for them. Failure to do so can result in hefty fines or even a prison sentence.
This handy checklist will help you understand your responsibilities and make sure you are doing everything you can to keep your tenants safe.
Landlords must have the electrical installations in their rented properties inspected and tested by a qualified and competent person at least every 5 years. A report should be obtained from the person conducting the inspection and a copy supplied to the tenant.
This new legislation came into force on 1 June 2020 and applies to new tenancies from 1 July 2020 and existing tenancies from 1 April 2021.
Landlords should also issue their tenants with copies of instruction manuals for any appliances in the property so that they can use them safely.
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 wood-burning stove. 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 as well as provide mains operated alarms and fire extinguishers.
Furniture and furnishings
Landlords must ensure that all of the furniture provided is “fire resistant”. Furniture should display a permanent label to show that it meets the specified ignition resistance levels. This label should be displayed on both new and second-hand furniture.
The regulations apply to things like sofas, sofa beds, mattresses and even bean bags. Items such as carpets, curtains and duvets are not included.
Legionnaires disease is a form of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria found in water. Legionella bacteria can sometimes be found in water systems and storage tanks in residential properties, especially where there is water stored between 20°C and 45°C.
As a landlord, you should assess the risk to your tenants of exposure to Legionella. A simple assessment may show that there are no real risks and no further action is needed.
You can consider the risks from domestic hot and cold water systems low if:
- There is daily water usage, this is inevitable if your property is occupied
- The cold water comes directly from the mains (not stored water tanks)
- The hot water is fed from instantaneous heaters (e.g. combi boilers or electric showers) OR low volume water heaters where the water is stored above 50°C
You should be careful if your property is left vacant for extended periods. If your property is vacant, you should implement a flushing regime or drain the system entirely if your property is to remain vacant for long periods.
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 are able to enter the property.
Landlord house inspection checklist
Property inspections are an essential part of being a landlord and are generally carried out on a quarterly basis. During the property inspection, you should be looking out for any health and safety issues.
Damp and mould
This can be quite 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
It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure 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 are keeping landings and stairways clear of obstacles so they could easily escape in case of a fire.
Check for overflowing bins and rubbish in the garden which 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.