As a landlord, you’ll have a lot of responsibilities to uphold. (Surprise, surprise!) Whether that’s protecting deposits, finding good tradespeople, or ensuring your tenants are aware of their own duties, you’ll never fall short of tasks to do.
But if there’s one thing that landlords should prioritise, it’s safety. By law, it’s your duty to provide accommodation that’s of a decent standard and ‘fit for purpose’, and failure to do so may result in law enforcement.
So, whether you’re an old hand at renting out properties, or you’re new to the game, it’s always useful to brush up on your welfare responsibilities as a landlord. It’s safety first, after all.
First up, let’s talk about electrical safety. As always, landlords must ensure that all electrical systems, such as sockets, wiring and light fixtures, are secure and fit for use. The same goes for any appliances that they’ve supplied, such as cookers and toasters.
But from the 1st of June 2020, things have changed. Under new regulations, it’s now mandatory that private landlords and agents have all electrical installations checked by a qualified electrician every five years. What does this mean exactly? Well…
- An electrician must inspect and test all electrical installations before the start of a new tenancy from 1st of July 2020.
- For existing tenancies, these checks must be carried out by the 1st of April 2021.
During the inspection, an electrician will check the ‘fixed’ electrical parts of the property. So, things like wiring, plug sockets, light fittings, and the fuse box. This will also include permanently-fitted equipment, such as extractors and showers.
The inspection will eliminate any electric shock risks and hazards, overloading of the installations, and any defective electrical work.
As a landlord, it’s your job to supply a copy of the most recent Electrical Inspection Condition Report (EICR) to both prospective and retained tenants within 28-days.
Next, we have gas safety. It’s pretty important. According to British Gas, engineers discovered 26,000 unsafe gas and electric appliances during home visits in 2019, with around 60 people dying from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning each year.
To ensure your properties and tenants are exempt from these shocking statistics, you’ll need to comply with the rules. The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1994 requires landlords to:
- Ensure a Gas Safe registered engineer installs and maintains any gas equipment they supply.
- Have a registered engineer perform an annual Gas Safety Check on each appliance and flue, and provide tenants with the certificate within 28-days.
It’s that simple!
For obvious reasons, fire-proofing your properties is essential. There are about 37,000 house fires a year in the UK, the majority of which are caused by electrical malfunctions.
To ensure you conform with fire safety procedures, you’ll need to provide smoke alarms on each storey of the property. These can be either mains or battery operated.
Don’t forget the carbon monoxide alarms. In any room that contains a solid fuel burning appliance, such as a boiler or coal fire, you’ll need to install one of these alarms.
If you rent out a large property with multiple occupants (HMO), it’ll need to come equipped with extinguishers and fire alarms.
Landlords are also required to furnish the property with fire-safe fittings, furniture and upholstery. They must be cigarette resistant, match resistant and have a clear, permanent label to display their suitability.
Aah, repairs. It’s something that every landlord has dealt with in their time. As overlooked repairs can pose significant health risks to tenants, landlords must ensure they act quickly and that their properties are free from:
- Structural instability, such as an unstable staircase, loose roof tiles, or sticking nails.
- Damp and mould
- Rodent or Insect Infestation
- Vulnerability from the elements
Although we’re in a pandemic, routine inspections and repairs must continue. The government has outlined advice for landlords to organise them safely, so be sure to check that out if this applies to you.
This goes without saying, but it’s also critical that you supply running water and facilities for sanitation. Your properties need to be ‘fit for habitation’, and failure to provide a toilet, shower, basins, and other equipment will land you in a whole lot of trouble.
Finally, we have asbestos safety. A highly toxic material, asbestos can cause permanent damage and sometimes death if fibres are inhaled for an extended period.
Although the government banned its use entirely in 1999, you can still find asbestos in the roofs and floors of a lot of old buildings. So, if your property was built before 2000 and it hasn’t faced significant asbestos removal, then you’ll need to inform your tenants that asbestos is likely to be present.
The property should undergo an Asbestos Risk Assessment to help identify the risks, such as:
- The type of asbestos present
- The quantity
- The expected level of exposure
Doing this will not only reduce health hazards and risks, but it will also help show that you’re a responsible landlord who always puts safety first.
Time for another? Head to our Property section for more useful articles.
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