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Landlord Responsibilities: A Guide to Health & Safety Obligations

Tags:
  • electrical safety,
  • fire safety,
  • gas safety,
  • health and safety,
  • HHRS,
  • landlord repairs,
  • landlord responsibilities

When starting out as a landlord, it can be difficult to keep track of all your legal obligations. We thought we’d offer a little helping hand. We’re shedding some light on landlord responsibilities and your health & safety obligations. Don’t cut corners here, it’s important to get this right.

Gas Safety

As a landlord, you need to take gas safety seriously. Make sure all gas equipment is installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Every appliance also needs an annual gas safety check by a registered engineer. By law, you must get a Gas Safety Certificate every twelve months. You need to provide a copy of this to new and existing tenants within 28 days of the check.

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Electrical Safety

Any electrical system or appliance in your property must be safe to use. By law, you are responsible for the general electrical system as well as the safety of appliances you provide, e.g. cookers, kettles, toasters, washing machines etc. Ensure all appliances are tested by an electrician and display the PAT (portable appliance test) sticker clearly on the plug.

Fire Safety

This is another crucially important area of responsibility for landlords. You must follow fire safety regulations. You must provide smoke alarms on each storey of your house, this can be either mains or battery operated.

You also have to provide a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. coal fire or wood stove). There is no legislation requiring you to fit a carbon monoxide alarm in a room with a gas burning appliance (e.g. boiler or gas fire). Despite this lack of regulation, many landlords and agents are choosing to supply CO alarms in these rooms for peace of mind.

An overlooked part of legislation is that all landlords must ensure the alarms are in working order on the start date of each new tenancy. This is the case even if a new tenant doesn’t move in till after that time. You must provide evidence that an alarm is in working condition from the start date, an ideal way of doing this is via a thorough inventory check-in procedure.

You must ensure tenants have access to adequate escape routes at all time, this includes preventing obstructions. If you supply a furnished property, you must ensure that all furniture is fire safe.

If you’re letting a large house in multiple occupation (HMO), you’re required to provide adequate alarms and fire extinguishers.

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The Responsibility of Repairs

This can be a sticky topic. As a landlord, you’re responsible for the majority of repairs. Here’s a list of repairs you must carry out:

  • The property’s structure and exterior
  • Basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary fittings (this includes pipes and drains)
  • Heating and hot water
  • Gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation
  • Electrical wiring
  • Common areas like staircases (this will usually be mentioned in the tenancy agreement)

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System

HHRS stands for the Housing Health and Safety Rating System. This is a risk-based evaluation which local authorities use to deem whether a property presents health and safety hazards. If your property is deemed unsafe, your local council can take action. This is something you seriously want to avoid.

How Does the HHRS Work?

Hazards are separated in categories depending on how serious they are. This system also considers the extra risk to the young and elderly.

Category 1 Hazards

Hazards which are the most dangerous and pose the most potential threat to health or safety are labelled as category 1. If your property displays any examples of a category 1 hazard, the local council is obliged to take action. Here are a few examples of category 1 hazards:

  • Leaking roof
  • Mould on the walls or ceilings
  • Rats, pest or vermin infestations
  • Broken steps at the top of a flight of stairs
  • Exposed wiring or overloaded electrical sockets
  • A dangerous or broken boiler
  • Excessively cold bedrooms
  • Poor security (as a result of lock problems or badly fitting doors, etc.)

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Sometimes it can be difficult to prove your property is in a safe condition before your tenants move in. By using No Letting Go’s inventory services, our full check-in service will be able to record exactly what condition your property is in. This not only removes the potential for deposit disputes but also assists with proving items like fire alarms meet regulations. Find out more about our inventory services for landlords here.

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