When renting out a property, it’s the responsibility of both the landlord and the letting agent to keep properties safe and free from health hazards. As with most sectors in the modern world, there are many regulations that must be adhered to and it can often be hard to keep track of them all.
By meeting these safety regulations, a property owner is essentially acknowledging that their property is suitable and safe to rent out, and that a prospective tenant is as safe as possible from possible hazards. Poor design, wear and tear and a lack of maintenance are the principal contributing factors to potential hazards.
If an accident occurs and the property in question does not meet safety regulations, a tenant is well within their rights to contact a local Environmental Health Officer, which could have serious legal and financial implications for the landlord.
Inadequate heating, insulation and disrepair are other factors responsible for safety hazards. Furthermore, a lack of handrails, steep stairs and poor lighting are design faults that can cause problems for landlords and unfortunately, the age-old problem of damp and mould growth will never go away.
Rental property safety regulations fall into three categories: Gas safety, Electrical Safety and Fire Safety.
When renting out a property, landlords must adhere to The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. The most important aspects of this act are that landlords make sure gas equipment is installed and maintained by a ‘Gas Safe’ registered engineer , and that an engineer carries out an annual safety check; a record of which is then provided to the tenant.
The two points of reference for landlords are The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and The Plugs & Sockets (Safety) Regulations 1994 (Part of the Consumer Protection Act 1987). The principal procedures to consider here are ensuring that all systems (sockets and fittings) and appliances (cooker, fridge/freezer) are safe for use and regularly checked.
To follow fire safety regulations under The Furniture & Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) (Amendment) Regulations 1993, landlords must ensure unobstructed access to escape routes. Furthermore, furniture and furnishings must be fire safe and landlords must provide regular checks of fire alarms and fire extinguishers.
Although we have highlighted the most important regulations, this is by no means an exhaustive list, and further details of your legal responsibilities as a landlord can be found on the government website. If you feel your property may not be safe to rent out or would like access to full housing regulation legislation, we would advise you to speak to a professional letting agent or seek independent legal advice.
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