How to keep your tenants safe?
Landlords are being fined heavily for not being compliant with legislation and in some cases, they are given prison sentences for noncompliance. “ignorance of the law is not a defence.”
A landlord who considers it his duty to give due care and attention to his tenants will comply with all legislation and have peace of mind.
What do you need to know?
As a landlord you will need to understand to start marketing your property you will require a certificate called Energy Performance (legal requirement) and any consent required from the mortgagee, owner’s insurers and if required consent from a freeholder or superior landlord under the terms of the owner’s lease.
- A valid energy performance certificate (EPC) as of 1st October 2008
Failure to have a valid certificate can invalidate service of notice on tenants and a fine.
- Landlords are required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties as of October 2015.
The requirements outlined to landlords are: as of September 2015
- Install smoke alarms on every floor of the property and test them at the start of each new tenancy.
During the tenancy it is a tenant’s responsibility to ensure the alarms work and it is their responsibility to change the batteries during the tenancy. However, should the alarms become faulty or expire out of date during the tenancy landlords are responsible for replacing them.
- Install carbon monoxide alarms in high risk rooms e.g. where gas or solid fuel heating systems are installed.
Failure to install the alarms could incur up to a £5,000 civil penalty
Health & Safety – Legionnaires’ Risk Assessment.
All systems require a risk assessment, however not all systems will require elaborate control measures. A simple risk assessment may show that the risks are low and being properly managed to comply with the law. In such cases, you may not need to take further action, but it is important to review your assessment regularly in case of any changes in your system, and specifically if there is a reason to suspect it is no longer valid.
Various laws govern the requirement for a landlord or agent to complete a risk assessment namely:
- Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH regulations)
- Approved Code of Practice L8 (Fourth Edition) – Legionnaires’ disease. The control of legionella bacteria in water systems (ACOP)
- Technical Guidance HSG274 – Part 2: The control of legionella bacteria in hot and cold-water systems
Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
Section 2(1) would normally cover agents as it requires all employers to ensure so far as reasonably practicable the health and safety of all employees. Section 3(1) continues to require that employers or self-employed persons (which will include landlords) must ensure all persons not in their employment are not exposed to risks of their health and safety.
Legally, it is the landlord’s responsibility to take precautions to prevent Legionella being present in the hot or cold-water system
Health & Safety – Gas: Annual Safety Check:
Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 all gas appliances and flues in rented accommodation must be checked for safety within 12 months of being installed, and thereafter at least every 12 months by a competent engineer (e.g. a Gas Safe registered gas installer). NOTE: The safety record can be in paper or electric format. Landlords can also provide tenants with a photocopy of the record or email it
- There is a duty to ensure that all gas appliances, flues and associated pipe work are maintained in a safe condition always.
- Records: Full records must be kept for at least 2 years of the inspections of each appliance and flue, of any defects found and any remedial action taken.
- Copies to Tenants: A copy of the safety certificate issued by the engineer must be given to each new tenant before their tenancy commences, or to each existing tenant within 28 days of the check being carried out.
If landlords don’t maintain their tenant’s gas appliances this could result in loss of life and prosecution including a fine and/or a period of imprisonment up to six months set by the Magistrates Court.
Tenants can make a complaint to the Health and Safety Executive.
Health & Safety – Electrical:
There are several regulations relating to electrical installation, equipment and appliance safety, and these affect landlords and their agents in that they are ‘supplying during business’. They include the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, the Plugs and Sockets Regulations 1994, the Building Regulation – ‘Part P’, and British Standard BS1363 relating to plugs and sockets.
The National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) and the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) recommend conducting an electrical installation safety check every five years, with a certificate detailing any works required and the date of the inspection. The Housing Act 2004 requires that a health and safety risk assessment be carried out regarding the electrical installation.
It is now widely accepted in the letting industry that the only safe way to ensure safety and to avoid the risk of being accused of neglecting your ‘duty of care’ or even manslaughter, is to arrange such an inspection and certificate.