Navigating legislation as a landlord can be very difficult. Whilst there are plenty of tools that can act as a guide, and many websites that attempt to comprehensively document legislature in its current state, the responsibility always ultimately falls with the landlord for the safety of their property and tenants. By using a Letting Agency like Bournecoast Property Agents landlords are comforted by the fact that their Letting Agency is regularly monitoring and updating landlord regulation requirements for their registered landlords. By using the Bournecoast Registration Checklist the property owners team guide landlords through the Regulations, what is required and where external assistance can be found where necessary.
Below is a guide to some of the current Regulations which Bournecoast can work through with you if you register your property with them.
The Consumer Protection Act 1987 applies to furnished holiday lettings and requires owners to comply with all relevant standards. Specific safety regulations apply to goods which are supplied as part of the letting of the accommodation. For further information visit: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1987/43/contents
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 - these govern the sale and supply of new and second hand furniture and furnishings. When such furniture is supplied with let accommodation in the course of a business, it is held to be part of a hire transaction and therefore covered by the Act. The Law requires furnished accommodation must comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989 and 1993). This applies to all upholstered furniture, beds, headboards, mattresses, sofa beds, cushions and pillows. It does not apply to antique furniture or furniture made before 1950. It is an offence to "Supply" furniture which does not comply with the fire resistance requirements contained in regulation 14 of the 1988 Regulations. Most new furniture has to have a manufacturer’s ‘permanent’ label attached to showing measures taken to ensure compliance with Regulations. The label should be headed ‘CARELESSNESS CAUSES FIRE’. For further information visit: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1988/1324/contents/made
Gas Safety Regulations 1998 - Gas appliances must be safe, conform to relevant safety standards and instructions for use should be available. The Gas Appliances (Safety) Regulations 1998 require that all new and second-hand gas appliances come with instructions when sold and these, or photocopies of these, should be made available. All landlords must ensure that gas appliances including LPG cabinet heaters are checked for safe operation including, where relevant, checks on the effectiveness of the flue, the ventilation, gas operating pressure and gas tightness. These checks should be carried out at least every 12 months and records kept of the test dates, defects and remedial action. They must also make this information available to tenants and prospective tenants, and keep records for 2 years. You should be aware that only a Gas Safe registered engineer should be permitted to carry out installation and maintenance of gas appliances. Gas Safe Register is the hallmark for gas safety in Great Britain. From 1st April 2009, Gas Safe Register replaced the CORGI gas registration scheme as the official gas safety body. All registered engineers are listed on the Gas Safe Register website: www.gassaferegister.co.uk or you can call them during normal office hours on 0800 408 5500. For further information visit: https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/renting-a-property/information-for-landlords/
Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 / Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 - The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 are extensive but particularly require all electrical systems in the property are maintained so as to avoid danger to all who use the premises. This applies to portable appliances as well as installation. The Electric Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 apply to electrical equipment which operates between 50-1000V AC and 65-1500 DC. Electrical equipment provided with let accommodation must be safe. This applies to any existing appliances such as kettles and TVs and fixed equipment such as electric cookers and immersion heaters and to any new equipment that you purchase. If equipment complies with the relevant standard e.g. British / European Standard, then it will meet safety requirements. For further information visit: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1994/3260/contents/made
With the approval of the Houses of Commons and Lords in 2020, landlords and agents will need to ensure electrical installation inspections and testing are carried out for ALL NEW tenancies in England from 1 July 2020 or from 1 April 2021 for EXISTING tenancies. This helps with planning and preparation for landlords, agents and of course, electrical engineers. Every fixed electrical installation will be inspected and tested at least every five years by a qualified person.
Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) 2008 - From 1 October 2008 landlords are required to provide an Energy Performance Certificate when they rent out a home. An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) expires after 10 years and gives information on the energy efficiency of a property you want to let. An EPC is required whenever a building in the social or private rented sectors is let to a new tenant (applies to holiday lets if for a combined total of 4 months or more in any 12 month period). Landlords must provide an EPC free to prospective tenants at the earliest opportunity and a copy of the EPC to the person who takes up the tenancy. For further information visit: https://www.gov.uk/buy-sell-your-home/energy-performance-certificates
Insurance – adequate insurance to cover you against damage, accidents, liability and loss of earnings is essential. Take out a policy that is designed specifically for your property. http://www.big-insurance.co.uk/business-insurance/landlords
Fire Risk Assessment and Fire Precautions – You must carry out a fire risk assessment which must focus on the safety in case of fire of all ‘relevant persons’. It should pay particular attention to those at special risk, such as disabled people, those who you know have special needs and children, and must include consideration of any dangerous substance liable to be on the premises. Your fire risk assessment will help you identify risks that can be removed or reduced and to decide the nature and extent of the general fire precautions you need to take. Guidance about completing a fire safety risk assessment for people responsible for sleeping accommodation is available using the link below. This document is written to provide guidance for a responsible person, to help them to carry out a fire risk assessment in less complex premises. If you read the guide and decide that you are unable to apply the guidance, then you should seek expert advice from a competent person. More complex premises will probably need to be assessed by a person who has comprehensive training or experience in fire risk assessment. However this guide can be used for multi-occupied buildings to address fire safety issues within their individual occupancies: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fire-safety-risk-assessment-sleeping-accommodation
The Smoke Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 – The regulations require private rented sector landlords, from 1 October 2015, to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their rental property which is used as living accommodation. After that the landlord (or someone acting on behalf of the landlord) must ensure all alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy. After the landlord’s test on the first day of the tenancy, tenants should take responsibility for their own safety and test all alarms regularly to make sure they are in working order. Testing monthly is generally considered an appropriate frequency for smoke alarms. If tenants find that their alarm(s) are not in working order during the tenancy, they are advised to arrange the replacement of the batteries or the alarm itself with the relevant landlord. For further information visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/smoke-and-carbon-monoxide-alarms-explanatory-booklet-for-landlords/the-smoke-and-carbon-monoxide-alarm-england-regulations-2015-qa-booklet-for-the-private-rented-sector-landlords-and-tenants
The Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 – The regulations require private rented sector landlords, from 1 October 2015, to have a carbon monoxide alarm in any room used as living accommodation where solid fuel is used. After that, the landlord must make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy. After the landlord’s test on the first day of the tenancy, tenants should take responsibility for their own safety and test all alarms regularly to make sure they are in working order. Testing monthly is generally considered an appropriate frequency for carbon monoxide alarms. If tenants find that their alarm(s) are not in working order during the tenancy, they are advised to arrange the replacement of the batteries or the alarm itself with the relevant landlord. For further information visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/smoke-and-carbon-monoxide-alarms-explanatory-booklet-for-landlords/the-smoke-and-carbon-monoxide-alarm-england-regulations-2015-qa-booklet-for-the-private-rented-sector-landlords-and-tenants
Legionnaires Risk Assessment – The practical and proportionate application of health and safety law to landlords of domestic rental properties is that whilst there is a duty to assess the risk from exposure to Legionella to ensure the safety of their tenants, this does not require an in-depth, detailed assessment. The risks from hot and cold water systems in most residential settings are generally considered to be low owing to regular water usage and turnover. A typical ‘low risk’ example may be found in a small building (eg housing unit) with small domestic-type water systems, where daily water usage is inevitable and sufficient to turn over the entire system; where cold water is directly from a wholesome mains supply (no stored water tanks); where hot water is fed from instantaneous heaters or low volume water heaters (supplying outlets at 50 °C); and where the only outlets are toilets and wash hand basins. A simple assessment may show that there are no real risks and are being properly managed and no further action is needed. It is important to review the assessment in case anything changes in the system. Implementing simple, proportionate and appropriate control measures will ensure the risk remains low. For most domestic hot and cold water systems, temperature is the most reliable way of ensuring the risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria is minimised ie keep the hot water hot, cold water cold and keep it moving. There are other simple control measures to help control the risk of exposure to Legionella. The risk is further lowered where instantaneous water heaters (for example combi boilers and electric showers) are installed because there is no water storage. For further information visit: http://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/legionella-landlords-responsibilities.htm
Safety Standards for Blinds – It is particularly important to ensure that blinds and curtains supplied in rental properties meet these regulations, otherwise, if there is an accident the landlord could be held liable. A change in the law tightened safety regulations for blinds and shutters in the European Union, following 27 fatalities since 1999 where toddlers and young children have become entangled with internal window blind cords and chains in the UK alone. The EU issued three new regulations which now require all existing blinds to be made safe using a retrofit safety device, and all cords and chains to be fitted with a safety device at the point of manufacture. The regulations require:
• safety devices to prevent cords or chains from forming a hazard
• the testing of all safety critical items of internal blinds
• the testing of blinds using safety devices
• the installation of safety devices on all blinds in manufacture
• maximum cord and chain lengths – must end 1.5 metres above the floor
Landlords need to be aware of these regulations, and should be looking to buy new blinds for their rental properties that are of a safe design – for example, blinds that are operated by wands rather than cords or chains. Although the new standards do not apply to blinds already installed, it is in all landlords’ interests to replace any old fittings with blinds which meet the new standards. If landlords have blinds in their properties operated by cords or chains it’s vital that they understand the risks and take steps to make sure their blinds are safe for children by replacing old designs. For further information visit: https://www.makeitsafe.org.uk
Bunk Beds (Entrapment Hazards) Safety Regulations 1987 – These regulations prescribe the gaps allowed in the framework of the upper bunk. This is to prevent the possibility of a child becoming trapped in any part of the bunk, causing risk of injury or death. In the upper bunk:
• Gaps in the sleeping surface must measure no more than 75 millimetres across.
• Any opening in the structure which is for someone to get in or out of bed, must be at least 300 millimetres wide and positioned in the long side of the bed.
• All other gaps must measure between 60 millimetres and 75 millimetres. This would apply, for example, to the headboard, footboard, side rails, guard rails and ladder. In addition to the above requirements, British Standards document BS EN 747:2007 details current requirements relating to bunk bed safety, in particular the provision of safety barriers etc.
The general requirements of the Standard include the following:
• Any bed which could be used as a top bed shall be equipped with four safety barriers.
• The distance between the upper edge of the safety barriers and the upper side of the bed base shall be at least 260 mm.
• The top of the mattress shall be at least 160mm below the upper edge of the safety barrier.
• One long side of the safety barriers may be completely interrupted by a ladder. The interruption shall be a minimum 300mm and maximum 400mm.
• The bed shall be provided with a ladder which is safely connected.
• The clear distance between two successive treads shall be at least 200mm & usable width of the tread shall be at least 300mm.
• Frame parts of the bed, situated in the vicinity of treads, may not interfere with the usable area of the tread.
For further information visit: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1987/1337/contents/made
Glass and Glazing Safety – The General Product Safety Regulations 2005 in conjunction with Building Regulations 1991 and BS 6262: Part 4: 2005 (Code of Practice for Safety Related to Human Impact) requires that glazing fitted in ‘critical locations’ in domestic buildings must be safe. Certain internal and external areas are considered ‘critical locations’ in terms of the safety of vertical glazing as they are at risk from human impact. Critical locations are:
• Doors – any glazing or part of that glazing in a door which is between the finished floor level and a height of 1500mm above floor level, is in a critical location.
• Side panels to doors – any glazing or part of that glazing which is within 300mm of either side of a door edge that is between the finished floor level and a height of 1500mm above the floor level.
• Windows, Partitions and Walls – any glazing or part of that glazing, which is between the finished floor level and a height of 800mm above the floor level.
Glass which is safe is safety glass which complies with BS 6206: 1981 (1994) which has now been replaced by BS EN 12600. For further information visit: https://www.rla.org.uk/landlord/guides/safety_glazing_guide.shtml
Other Appliances – All equipment and items not covered by specific regulations must comply with the General Product Safety Regulation 2005. All goods supplied with the accommodation must be reasonably safe. In addition, warnings and instructions must be supplied where they are necessary for the safe use of the items. Goods such as lawn mowers etc. should have guards in place; ironing boards, clothes dryers etc. should not have sharp edges that could cause injury in normal use. It is advisable to check all items at regular intervals to ensure they are safe. For further information visit: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2005/1803/contents/made
This guide has been prepared to give general information and does not cover every circumstance. If you require specific advice or guidance with regard to safety in let accommodation, please contact Trading Standards.
For further information please call one of the Bournecoast team on 01202 437888 or email the team.