When it comes to your responsibilities as a landlord, the safety of your tenants must be your top priority. To help you get to grips with what’s expected, we have outlined the main safety concerns you need to be aware of and the legal obligations you must adhere to.
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms
It is a legal requirement for all rental properties in England to follow the The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015. The regulations require that you install at least one smoke alarm on every floor of the property where a room is used or partly used as living accommodation.
carbon monoxide alarms are mandatory in rooms with a fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers) in both private and social rented homes. carbon monoxide alarms will also be mandatory upon installation of any heating appliance (excluding gas cookers) in all tenures through building regulations.
Carbon monoxide alarms must also be installed in any room containing a solid fuel-burning appliance, such as a wood burner, coal fire or biomass - You (or your letting agent) must ensure that every alarm is in proper working order on the first day of a new tenancy.
Electrical safety obligations
In England and Scotland, you have a legal duty to ensure that any electrical items you have provided in your rental property are safe throughout a tenancy. As well as all appliances, you must also ensure all electrical systems such as sockets, switches and light fittings are safe.
ELECTRICAL SAFETY STANDARDS
The electrical safety standards for the private rented sector in England came into force on 1 June 2020 and applies to all new tenancies from 1 July 2020 and all existing tenancies from 1 April 2021. The regulation sets out new rules for landlords to ensure all fixed electrical installations are safe and maintained correctly.
GAS SAFETY CHECKS FOR LANDLORDS
Research has shown that more than one in three private landlords did not know it was their responsibility to get gas appliances checked. With this in mind, are you aware of your legal requirements concerning gas safety?
Legionnaires’ disease is a pneumonia-like infection commonly caused by the inhalation of small droplets of water contaminated with Legionella bacteria. Landlords must assess and control the risk of tenant's exposure to Legionella. Control measures include:
- Flushing out the water system before letting the property
- Ensuring cold water tanks have a tight lid to stop debris from getting into the system
- Setting control parameters to ensure water is stored at the correct temperature
- Removing unused pipework
You should inform your tenants about control measures they can do such as cleaning showerheads or running all the taps for five minutes if they've been away. Tell them to let you (or your agent) know if problems occur with the water system, or if the water's not heating properly.
Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 set levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture, furnishings and other products containing upholstery. All furnishings should pass the 'smouldering cigarette' and 'match flame' resistance test and carry a label confirming this.
Generally, items manufactured in the UK after 1990 meet the required standards and display the appropriate permanent label confirming their compliance. If items do not comply they should be removed from the property before it is let, unless they are deemed an exemption, e.g. furniture manufactured before 1950.