Landlord safety obligations covered!
The property management services delivered by Excel are fully comprehensive. For our landlords this means never having to worry whether your obligations are covered – as we can take care of every aspect of your property management and look after the relevant regulation details for you
Badly installed or maintained gas appliances in properties can pose a significant danger to the occupants; between 30 and 40 people die each year due to carbon monoxide poisoning. If there is inadequate ventilation for the appliance or the flue becomes blocked, carbon monoxide may be released into the room. A build-up of carbon monoxide can be fatal. The most dangerous gas appliance is the ‘open flue’ boiler as the unit is no sealed and toxic gases can escape into the room very easily.
The governing legislation is the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and this is supplemented by the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and the Gas Cooking Appliances (Safety) Regulations 1989 (which cover second hand as well as new appliances).
The maximum penalty with non-compliance with the legislation is six months imprisonment, a fine or both.
Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 & 2018:
These Regulations apply to all gas appliances in the property (other than any which are specifically excluded by the regulations), any associated gas pipework leading to the appliances and any flue leading from the appliances. They include portable heaters and other gas appliances fed by bottled gas, or from an external gas storage vessel at the property. Certain categories of gas appliance cannot be installed in certain parts of the living accommodation of a dwelling house.
The Regulations apply to tenanted properties in both the private and public sector, and the landlord cannot ‘contract out’ of his obligations by stipulating on the lease that the tenant must arrange for the servicing of gas appliances. However, they do not apply where the lease is for a term over 7 years or to gas appliances installed or owned by the tenant.
Where the landlord’s property is managed by an agency, the management contract should specify who is responsible for the maintenance of gas appliances.
Testing and Maintenance:
The Regulations require that an annual check is carried out in all rented properties, and specify the nature of the tests to be carried out during such checks. Since April 2018, the annual gas safety check can now be carried out within two months before the due date and retain the existing 12 month expiry date.
All landlords must ensure that the gas fittings and flue are maintained in safe condition.
Any work done on gas appliances, including new installations, repairs, maintenance and the safety check must be done by a competent and suitably qualified engineer. Until 1st April 2009 this person had to be registered with the Council for Registered Gas Installers, but since April the engineer used must instead be registered with Gas Safe.
Any person in control of works affecting existing gas fittings must take all reasonable precautions to ensure that the gas fittings are not brought out of line with current regulations. Such works include those where the effects on gas appliances are not obvious, such as the installation of double glazing which may include the removal of air bricks.
The owner of, or the person responsible for, the premises has a duty to keep a record of the gas appliances in the property, the dates of inspection, the defects identified and any remedial action taken. These records must be available to be inspected by any tenant who so requests and who may be affected by the use or operation of any appliance.
Previous, but still in force, regulations, state that the landlord must provide a copy of the record to any new tenants before they move into the property.
Gas Cooking Appliances (Safety) Regulations 1989:
These Regulations apply to all gas cooking equipment which is ‘supplied’ in the course of business. Any gas cooker, whether new or second hand, must be undamaged and working correctly. The supplier is also liable where there is a risk of injury due to an escape of gas, the stability of the appliance or the lack of appropriate English instructions. These Regulations are less significant following the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.
New gas appliances placed on the market after January 1997 must also show the CE mark, as required by the Heating Appliances (Fireguard)(Safety) Regulations 1991.
A landlord is required to ensure that the property and any electrical installation supplied within in it is safe under the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, and maintained in a good state of repair. From 1st July 2020 landlords in England will be required to have electrical fixed wiring installed and tested regularly to the current safety standards, and provide tenants with an electrical installation condition report (EICR) at the start of the tenancy (Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020). Testing only applies to the fixed mains wiring and will be required to be carried out every five years, at which point, an updated EICR will need to be provided to the tenant.
See Factsheet TBA for more detailed information and Government Guide for Landlords: electrical safety in the private rented sector
The Health and Safety Executive have estimated that in one year alone, faulty electrical appliances caused 2000 fires. A landlord has an ongoing duty to ensure that electrical installations are safe. Faulty appliances should be withdrawn and repaired. Unless otherwise specifically excluded within the tenancy agreement, a landlord is expected to take responsibility for the repairs and maintenance of items supplied with the property such as washing machines and other electrical appliances.
This responsibility does not extend to damage or other misuse by the tenant. If it is known by the landlord that a particular appliance is nearing the end of its working life and is beyond economical repair, this should be declared at the outset and prior to signing the tenancy agreement. Otherwise, a landlord might be obliged to ensure its continued availability in working order throughout the tenancy.
The Government has introduced various legislation relating to electrical safety of household appliances due to an increasing demand for consumer safety and the large numbers of electrical appliances used by a typical household. The governing legislation is the Consumer Protection Act 1987, supplemented by the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 & 2016 and the Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994.
As your agent, Excel will have a duty of care to inform you of any relevant safety legislation that may apply, as we will be held liable for negligence if we fail to do so.
The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 & 2016:
The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 came into force in 1995 but were replaced in 2016 by the The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016. The Regulations relate to the supply of electrical equipment designed with a working voltage of between 50 and 1000 volts ac. (or between 75 and 15000 volts dc.). They cover all mains voltage household electrical goods, including cookers, kettles, toasters, washing machines and electrical heaters. However, the Consumer Protection Act 1989 provides that the Regulations do not apply to equipment which is fixed to the land, such as built-in appliances like central heating.
The 2016 Regulations apply to landlords and agents who are known as the ‘distributor’ and the duties arise when electrical equipment is ‘made available on the market’ which means ‘any supply of electrical equipment for distribution, consumption or use on the EU market in the course of a commercial activity, whether in return for payment or free of charge…’ Both sets of regulations impose the obligation on the supplier or distributor of such goods to ensure that they are ‘safe’ so that there is no risk of injury or death to humans or pets, or risk of damage to property.
Instructions: Electrical equipment must be accompanied by instructions and safety information in English.
Labelling: Any equipment supplied in the European Economic Community (EEC) after 9th January 1995 must be marked with the appropriate CE symbol.
The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994:
The Regulations relate to the supply of any plugs, sockets, adapters or fuses intended for domestic use with a working voltage of not less than 200 volts, and also the supply of any appliance which has a plug fitted.
Such equipment must comply with the appropriate current standard, and must be correctly fused.
The supplier must ensure that the equipment fulfils the statutory definition of ‘safe’, so there is no risk of injury or death to humans or pets or of damage to property.
However, certain plugs or sockets which are incorporated in some electrical equipment, luminaries, ceiling-rose connectors and wall or ceiling lights are excluded from the scope of the Regulations.
The maximum penalty for non-compliance with either set of Regulations is a fine of £20,000 or six months imprisonment, or both.
General Product Safety Regulations 1994:
Electrical appliances are also within the scope of the General Product Safety Regulations 1994. Any product supplied must be safe, meaning that under normal or foreseeable conditions of use, including duration, the product does not prevent any risk or only the minimum risks compatible with the product’s use. Particular consideration is given to:
- characteristics of the product, including its composition, packaging and instruction,
- effect of the product on other products,
- presentation of the product, labelling, instructions for use and any other information provided by the producer, and
- the categories of consumers at serious risk when using the product, in particular children
Suppliers, like ourselves, should provide consumers with relevant information regarding the risks inherent in any product where such risks are not immediately obvious without such warnings, and should take such steps to be aware of the risks associated with the use of supplied products.
Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially severe but uncommon form of pneumonia associated with exposure to water systems (natural or man-made) colonised by legionella bacteria – generally only of danger to elderly people and the sick. Being a notifiable disease, all outbreaks are reported in national statistics. In an average year, there are some 300-400 reported cases, of which less than 8% are fatal – mainly in older people.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published a revised approved Code of Practice (AcoP) on ‘Legionnaires’ Disease – The control of legionella bacteria in water systems’ in 2009 (further revised in 2013) for employers and those with responsibilities for the control of premises, including landlords. Whilst HSE’s interpretation of the law has not changed, their guidance was revised. The scope of the ACoP previously applied to hot water systems which had capacities of 300 litres or over (an arbitrary limit designed to exclude domestic system) but in the recently revised guidance HSE specifically consider the case of private sector residential landlords and the duties that HSE believes will apply.
Residential landlords have duties to ensure that their premises are safe and free from hazards, and many of these areas such as gas safety and the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) have specific legislation and are well documented. However, there is no specific legislation relating to Legionella aimed at residential property and the legal case for carrying out detailed risk assessments in the domestic property environment is not clear. The HSE maintains that every landlord has a legal duty to undertake Legionella checks under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and also under secondary legislation such as the Control of Hazardous Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH).
The property condition and safety duties under the Housing Act 2004 are clearer and apply specifically to landlords. This Act makes provision for the Housing Health and Safety Rating System and places an implied duty on the landlord of residential premises to keep the property free from known types of hazards.
There is no provision in the Act or the related regulations specifically for Legionella but a landlord has a duty to keep the property free from these types of hazards, or advise the tenant how this may be done. Under HHSRS, a local authority has the option of issuing a hazard awareness notice, an improvement notice or a closure order.
According to the HSE guidance, the law requires simple, proportionate and practical actions to be taken including identifying and assessing sources of risk, managing the risk, preventing or controlling the risk and periodically checking that any control measures are effective. All water systems require a risk assessment, but not all systems require elaborate control measures. The guidance acknowledges that a risk assessment in most residential settings may show the risks are low, in which case no further action may be necessary.
Do I need to pay for a Professional Risk Assessment?:
Any Legionella risk assessment and related measures should be proportionate to the level of risk – which for the majority of hot and cold water supply systems in residential property is generally low. Because of this, the HSE acknowledge the competent landlord may carry out the risk assessment themselves – There is no legal requirement to employ a professional consultant to do the assessment. The HSE guidance (HSG274 – Control of Legionella bacteria in hot and cold water systems – available online) explains how this risk assessment may be carried out. These include checking the following:
- Are conditions right for bacteria to flourish eg. is the temperature of the water between 20 degrees Celsius and 45 degrees Celsius?
- Are there any areas of stagnant water or infrequently used outlets etc?
- Is there any redundant pipe work?
- Is there any debris in the system such as rust, sludge, scale etc?
- Are there any employees, residents etc who are vulnerable to infection such as the elderly?
In most residential lettings the answer to the above questions will be no in which case the risk will be low and no further action will be necessary e.g. housing units with small domestic-type water systems where water turnover is high. Where a risk is identified the HSE provide advice on simple control measures to help manage the risk of exposure to legionella. The HSE suggest flushing out the system before letting the property, advising tenants on control of legionella (e.g. flushing out showers when away from the property for a period of time), avoid debris getting into the system (e.g. ensure cold water tanks, where fitted, have a tight-fitting lid), ensuring any redundant pipe work is identified and removed, setting control parameters (thermostatic mixer valves should be fitted as close as possible to outlets, where a scald risk is identified) and checking temperature of the water.
The HSE advise to review the assessment periodically in case anything changes in the system. However, the frequency of inspection and maintenance will depend on the system and the risks it presents but for most residential lettings a simple assessment when carrying out other routine inspections will suffice.
An energy performance certificate (EPC) is a legal requirement for anyone renting, selling or building a property in the United Kingdom.
An EPC gives a report on the energy efficiency of a property. The ratings run from G which is at the bottom end of the efficiency scale and depicted in red, up to A which is very efficient, and depicted in green. The objective of the certificate is to indicate how much it will cost on average to heat and light the property, as well as how much carbon dioxide it emits.
An EPC comes with a recommendation report which sets out any improvements that can be made to help reduce the energy bills for the property, and the potential rating that could be achieved if those recommendations were followed. These could be, for example, fitting cavity wall insulation; the installation of low energy lighting or replacing an ageing boiler with a modern energy efficient model.
The higher up the scale the rating, the lower the cost to run the property, and the more attractive it will be to those letting it.
Landlords must provide potential tenants with an EPC. In all cases the certificates must be provided free of charge.
An EPC must be produced by a registered domestic energy assessor. You can find one of these on the EPC register. The EPC register stores existing certificates and allows you to search for an EPC by entering a reference number or a property address. All new certificates are placed on the register, and are valid for 10 years.
The cost of an EPC will vary from between around £60 and £120. If you you are a landlord taking advantage of our property management services, then an EPC will be included and we will make all the arrangements on your behalf.
As of 1 April 2016, assured shorthold tenants and some other residential tenants in England and Wales have the right under the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015 to request consent from their landlords to make energy efficiency related improvements to the properties they are renting.
As a landlord, you will not be permitted to unreasonably refuse consent providing the request complies with the Regulations. The cost of the improvements will be the tenant’s responsibility, and they must fall into the category of those that qualify for Green Deal funding, or be measures that connect the property to mains gas. Requests must be made in writing and landlords must serve a Full Response or a Counter Proposal.
From 1 April 2018, all rented property (both domestic and non-domestic) which is to have a new tenancy must have an EPC rating of at least “E”. This requirement also applies to all renewal tenancies to the same tenant for the same property on or after 1 April 2018. The duty is also triggered by any periodic tenancy arising on or after 1 April 2018 after the expiry of any fixed term because the duty is not only triggered by a renewal but also “an extension”.
From 1 April 2020, all domestic lettings (including existing) must achieve an “E” rating or better.