As residential landlords, you have a variety of legal responsibilities, including:
- keeping rental properties safe and free from hazards
- making sure all supplied gas and electrical equipment is properly installed and maintained
- complying with all fire safety regulations
- providing an Energy Performance Certificate, and
- protecting your tenants’ deposits.
In Scotland, landlords must also register with the local council before renting out property, or face a criminal offence. This can be done by clicking here.
Safe and Free from Hazards
Depending on the wording of the tenancy agreement or lease, the majority of landlords in the UK will be required to keep the property safe and free from hazards. This means keeping the buildings and exterior safe and in good working condition, including drains, gutters and external pipes.
You should also keep all installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity, heating and sanitation measures in good working order. Providing operating instructions and user warnings for supplied appliances and equipment is best practice.
Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 2018, Landlords are required to make sure that all supplied gas appliances, fittings and flues are maintained in a safe condition according to manufacturer’s instructions. Every 12 months, a gas safety check must be conducted by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer on each gas appliance, fitting or flue to ensure they are safe to use. Safety check records must be kept for at least 2 years and a copy must be given to existing tenants within 28 days of the check. New tenants are entitled to a copy of the check before moving in.
The government implemented new regulations for landlords in regards to the safety of electrical systems and equipment in June 2020. The new “Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020” require all landlords to have electrical installations on their property inspected and tested by a qualified and competent party at least once every five years.
Following inspections, landlords are required to provide a copy of the electrical safety report to tenants. Existing tenants should receive a copy within 28 days of the inspection and test, and new tenants should receive a copy prior to occupancy. If local authorities request to see the report, it must also be provided to them within seven days. Landlords should also be sure to retain records so that previous reports can be provided to future inspectors.
In the event that an inspection shows a need for further maintenance or investigation, this work must be completed within 28 days, unless the report specifies that it must be done sooner. After the necessary work is completed, landlords have 28 days to provide written confirmation to tenants and local authorities.
Fire Safety Regulations
Landlords must also comply with all fire safety regulations. These include the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in England and Wales, the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 in Scotland, and the Fire Safety (NI) Regulations 2010 in Northern Ireland. Fire risk assessments should be conducted and reviewed periodically. Access to escape routes should be carefully planned out and monitored. Smoke alarms should be fitted throughout the property. The tenancy agreement should state whether the tenant or the landlord is in charge of maintaining and testing the smoke alarm, including changing the batteries. Depending on the size of the property, fire alarms, signage, fire escape ladders and extinguishers may need to be provided as well.
If you supply furniture to your tenants, you must comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended in 1989, 1993 and 2010). The Act sets fire resistance requirements for furniture, furnishings and upholstered products. Most types of furniture are required to have a permanent and non-detachable manufacturer’s label and fire resistant filling, and must pass appropriate fire resistance tests, such as match and cigarette resistance. This is more of an issue with older furniture, as all new furniture should comply.
For more information on fire safety requirements, please click here.
Energy Performance Certificate
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is required whenever a property is built, sold or rented. The certificate assigns the property an energy efficiency rating from A (best) to G (worst) and is valid for 10 years. Landlords in Scotland are required to display the EPC on the property itself. An EPC contains:
- Information about the property’s energy use and typical energy costs
- Recommendations for reducing energy use and costs
In order to get an EPC certificate, you must hire an accredited assessor to evaluate your property. To find an assessor:
Residential landlords are required to protect their tenants’ deposits in a government-backed scheme through independent third parties. Assured shorthold tenancy landlords in England and Wales, and all private landlords in Scotland, have 30 days to place a deposit in an approved scheme and provide tenants with key information about the tenancy and deposit. There are currently no official requirements in Northern Ireland for protecting tenant deposits. Websites for approved tenancy deposit schemes for England, Wales and Scotland are below.
England and Wales:
For More Help
Contact Bullerwell for more information on your responsibilities as a landlord. Our insurance professionals can help you mitigate your liability and property risks with landlord insurance cover.