Landlords and letting agents need to be aware of a raft of different legislation, particularly if they want to stay on the right side of the law. One area that is often overlooked is the safety relating to fittings such as blinds and curtains.
The major part of these regulations is to ensure that there is no risk to children in the property that is being rented out. Over the last decade or so there have been several cases of children who have died because they have become entangled in the cords from curtains or blinds.
While these are exceptional circumstances, in 2014 new legislation was introduced that placed a responsibility on landlords to make sure these soft furnishings are safe and fit for purpose. Although it does not apply to fittings before a certain date, there is a case to say that it’s in a landlord’s best interest to make sure old installations are updated to something safer.
The law was changed in conjunction with British Standards Institute, the EU and the British Blind and Shutter Association. If your blinds or curtains represent a potential hazard, the onus is on you as a landlord to retrofit safety measures.
- Safety devices can be used to make sure that components such as cords are not hanging lose and easily accessed by children. Chord lengths, for instance, should end at least 1.5 metres above the floor.
- Any installation such as a blind or curtain needs to be checked to make sure that safety measures are there and that these are properly maintained.
- If you are putting in new blinds or curtains, then you need to choose products that are fit for purpose. Most should have various warnings and instructions for safe installation and meet current UK and EU standards.
The British Blind and Shutter Association is working hard to make sure that landlords across the UK are aware of the legislation and their personal responsibility. They have produced a number of videos that show landlords various ways to make existing blind and curtain systems safe so that they don’t pose a risk to children. These include:
- If your blinds use a looped chain you can make them safe by introducing a tensioning device which holds the chain taut.
- If you have a blind with a cord, you can put in a simple cleat around which the rope can be wrapped and kept out of reach of children.
When thinking about replacing blinds or shutters, you can now get a number of products that don’t have visible cords or chains but operate using a spring system. You simply have to take hold of the blind and pull it down or push it up. There are other safety options such as chains that break as soon as too much weight is put on them.
All new systems have fixed cord lengths nowadays and installers have a duty to fit safety devices as a matter of course, whether that’s a private property or a rental.
While professional landlords are better at keeping up with the latest regulations, there is a worry that many still don’t understand their obligations in this area. If you are a landlord and you haven’t checked over your blinds, curtains and shutters recently, it might be time to make sure you are complying with current legislation.
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