As a landlord, you must carry out a risk assessment to make sure your tenants can live in the property safely. There are 29 potential health and safety hazards to look out for, which are explained in more depth in a guide you can download from the government website.
Gas and electrics
You have a duty of care to ensure your tenants are safe and the law requires that appliances are safe and independently tested regularly, whether they are gas or electric.
To make life easier, we at Hunters can take care of all of this for you, if you wish. We can arrange for a qualified external contractor to carry out all the necessary tests at the appropriate time.
If you prefer to organise this yourself, if you are letting through Hunters, it is essential we have copies of all test certificates and reports so that tenants can let from us with confidence.
All gas appliances need to be tested annually for safety by a Gas Safe Registered engineer, which we can arrange for you. You are required by law to provide your tenant with a copy of the gas safety certificate.
For electrics and appliances, the rule is, in the event of an accident involving electricity, you must be able to demonstrate that the supply and appliances are safe. If you let through Hunters, all electrical installations must be tested before the beginning of the first tenancy and all portable electrical items require testing before each tenancy commences. Annual checks are not required; we will arrange for them to be retested on the recommendation of an approved electrician, usually after five-10 years.
You should not tackle any repairs yourself but use a Part P registered electrician.
You should provide a battery-operated smoke alarm on every storey (although the tenant is responsible for replacing the batteries) as well as a carbon monoxide alarm by law if a property has a solid fuel burning appliance, however we recommend both alarms are fitted to ensure tenant’s safety.
Failure to comply can lead to fines of £5,000 or more and, if the tenant has been put in severe danger, you could face a prison sentence.
Any furnishings you provide must meet the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1998 and display a label showing they have resistance to igniting.
Furnishings include beds, mattresses, sofas and sofa beds, cushions, pillows etc. They do not include carpets and curtains.
Other fire considerations
You need to ensure tenants can escape easily in case of a fire through corridors, windows and doors.
There should be nothing flammable at the property that could cause a fire, or make a fire spread further, such as flammable items by the boiler.
Damp and mould
You are responsible for fixing any issues with damp and mould as they are health hazards, particularly for children or those with asthma or other respiratory conditions.
Damp can be caused by unresolved structural issues, or by condensation due to lack of adequate ventilation. Even if the problem is caused by the tenant’s behaviour, it is wise to install a ventilation system to protect not just your tenant’s health but your property.
To prevent problems from recurring, it’s wise to consult an expert surveyor – talk to our lettings team and we can help you find an expert in your area.
Excess heat and cold
You have a duty of care to make sure the property can be heated up or cooled down as required, as temperature extremes can cause your tenant health problems.
From 2018, landlords will be banned from letting any property which has an EPC rating of F or G, as these are considered too cold to let and too expensive to heat.
Risk of infection
All rental properties must be assessed for risk of causing infection and one of the considered risks is Legionella (also known as Legionnaires’ disease), a potentially fatal illness similar to pneumonia which can be caught by inhaling bacteria generated by hot and cold water heating systems.
A property could be at risk if, for example, it has been empty for 30 days or more, resulting in stagnant water in the system from lack of use, or if there have been issues with the hot and cold water supply.
We are happy to arrange the necessary assessments for you.
It is your responsibility to minimise the risk of slips, trips and falls, particularly if there are children or elderly person living in the property. Check the stairs are safe, with no loose or worn carpet, and that the banisters are secure.
Ensure tenants can get in and out of the bath safely and that there are no tripping hazards, such as uneven paths, outside.
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)
As Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) have more tenants, they are subject to more wear and tear, so you may encounter more problems with maintenance and damp, for example. And, because HMOs have something of a reputation for problems within the private rented sector, many housing enforcement officers target them for checks.
Your safety responsibilities are the same as already listed, with some additions:
As well as ensuring doors (including on individual rooms) and windows have good locks to protect your tenants’ security, you need to ensure they are easy to open and escape from in case of fire.
In addition to ensuring tenants can escape easily in case of fire, you will need clearly marked fire exits which are free from obstruction. You will also need fire-fighting equipment, including fire extinguishers and blankets, which are in good repair and working condition.
In addition, it is a legal requirement that all electrical fixtures within an HMO are inspected every five years to ensure they are in a safe working condition; the local authority can request visits and to see certificates, which must be provided within a week of request.
You should ensure there is adequate provision for waste disposal, by providing enough bins and rubbish bags and checking that the local authority is collecting waste from the property.
“The safety of our tenants is paramount, so we work closely with our landlords to ensure every property let through us conforms to all safety regulations. Not only does this keep our tenants safe, it gives our landlords peace of mind, too.”