A landlord is subject to certain legal requirements to ensure that any property they let is safe for tenants and other occupiers. We provide a summary of the main regulations and legal duties below.
In addition to the specific legal requirements explained below, landlords have a duty under the general law to ensure that the property is safe to live in and does not pose any unreasonable danger or health risk to tenants or other occupiers. This would obviously include a requirement that the structure of the building is safe, that the premises are free from damp or other environmental factors which might pose a health risk, as well as common-sense checks of a safety nature, such as ensuring that electrical cabling is not exposed, that there are no sharp nails sticking out of the floorboards etc. Gas and electrical appliances must be safe and properly maintained. It is really just common sense: tenants renting a property are entitled to expect it to be safe and habitable within modern expected standards.
Every rental property which contains a gas appliance must be checked annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer to ensure that the appliance(s) and flue are safe. The check must be carried out within 12 months of the installation of a new appliance and annually thereafter. A copy of the safety certificate must be retained by the landlord for at least 2 years and a copy must be supplied to the existing tenants within 28 days of the check. Any new tenants must be supplied with a copy of the current valid safety certificate before they move in. Prices vary, but a gas safety certificate would typically cost between £50 – £120, for a property with one or two appliances.
Landlords failing to comply with these regulations are liable to prosecution; the court may impose a fine and/or prison sentence.
Although it is not mandatory, we recommend fitting a carbon monoxide alarm in any premises containing a gas appliance, particularly where the appliance is located close to sleeping accommodation.
There is no specific requirement to have electrical appliances regularly checked for safety. However, since January 2005, electrical installations in homes have been regulated by law and there are specific requirements to have any electrical work inspected by a building control officer if it is not undertaken by a qualified approved electrician. Failure to comply is a criminal offence. The regulations are too complex to go into detail here, suffice to say that it is always advisable to ensure that any electrical work is carried out by a qualified electrician who belongs to either the N.I.C.E.I.C or E.C.A.
For older premises, we recommend that a full check of the electrical wiring and appliances is carried out by a qualified contractor prior to letting the property.
There is a general duty under the common law to ensure that premises are safe and comply with building regulations on matters such as emergency escapes (particularly where sleeping accommodation is provided on the second floor or above), fire doors, smoke alarms and fire exits. There are specific legal requirements for HMO’ (houses in multiple occupation) which landlords must comply with.
Where a property is let furnished, all furniture must comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988/1989 (as amended in 1993 and 2010). Modern furniture bought from a reputable UK retailer will comply; landlords need to take extra care when buying second hand furniture or where the furniture (particularly sofas and other soft furnishings) is older.