If you’re a landlord, then you should already know that you have a duty of care to your tenants. They are living in your property, and you are legally obligated to provide safe accommodation and do everything you can to reduce any risk to them while they are living there. This is the main obligation of a landlord, and you can find more detail about it in the Housing Health and Safety Rating System. While there are a lot of things you need to be aware of as a landlord, there are 10 main health and safety obligations you need to know about and take action on. To help you out, they are listed below.
All gas fixtures and equipment you supply must be safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer. On top of that you need to have a gas safety check carried out by a Gas Safe engineer every year, and you need to be able to provide any new tenants with the most recent certificate before they move into the property.
You are also legally obligated to make sure all electrical systems within the property are safe. There is no formal requirement to have a wiring check carried out but we strongly recommend that you have the system inspected every 3-5 years. The best way to do that is by instructing a 'Part-P' qualified electrician to carry out an inspection. There is a legal requirement to have portable appliances tested every 12 months and the Government are legislating to make it a legal requirement to have the wiring check done too. Regardless of the legal requirements, however, it is worth asking how you would feel if someone received an electric shock because of an unsafe system in your property.
Legionella Risk Assessment
You will also need a ‘competent person’ to carry out a Legionella risk assessment for the property. Technically this can be anybody, but we recommend using either your estate agent or a water specialist. You will need to review this assessment periodically, usually once a year, or between tenancies.
If you aren’t supplying any furniture with the property, then you can skip this one. Any furnishing and upholstered furniture you do supply with the property must meet appropriate fire safety regulations. This can easily be proven with a manufacturers label, which should be attached somewhere on each piece.
Legally, you need to have a working smoke alarm on each floor of the property, and it must be tested at the start of every tenancy. While this is the minimum required by law, we often recommend landlords go one step further to protect their tenants and their property by installing:
- A smoke alarm in all living rooms
- A smoke alarm in hallways/landings
- A heat sensor in the kitchen (this is a legal requirement in Scotland)
You also need to provide a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with any solid fuel-burning appliance, and its good practice to fit one when there is gas in the property – usually around the boiler.
Clear Escape Routes
Tenants can inadvertently obstruct escape routes during the tenancy with furniture or other belongings. It may be worth putting up a clear notice in fire escape routes, or on fire exit doors, particularly in HMO’s or blocks of flats.
Mould From Damp And Condensation
Mould can cause serious health issues for your tenants, and the likelihood is it probably isn’t their fault. To prevent this, you need to make sure that the property is properly ventilated, especially in the kitchen and the bathroom, where a lot of steam tends to collect. When decorating or redecorating the property, it’s worth using a mould resistant paint on walls and ceilings, and make sure your estate agent is checking for mildew and mould in their regular inspections. And if you do find it – don’t just cover it up! Get the root cause fixed and then deal with the damage.
You will also need to make sure there are appropriate locks on doors and windows, and that the property boundaries are well maintained (including walls and fencing). You could also install external security lighting, internal security alarms or other security measures. Make sure you know who has the keys to external doors, and that all alarm codes are left with the tenant or estate agent.
Emergency Procedures And Operating Manuals
Display clear information about what tenants should do and who to contact in case of an emergency, to reduce the chance of any injury, e.g. if there is a fire or flood in the property. And make sure there are instruction manuals for all the equipment you’ve provided, to help tenants use it safely.
Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (and its recent amendment), you’re legally obligated to ensure the property is fit for habitation at the start of the tenancy, and maintained in good working order throughout. This means being prompt with repairs when faults are reported, and using licenced companies for repair. If the furnishings or fittings or fabric of the property itself fall into disrepair, it could cause serious safety issues for tenants.
If you would like to know more about keeping your property and your tenants safe, or about what your responsibilities are as a landlord, just get in touch with the team at Northwood today.