Important Regulations

Fire Safety

There are a number of health and safety guidelines you must follow prior to letting out your property. These guidelines are in place to both protect you legally and alsoto ensure the safety of individuals / families who are residing within the property.

Fire-resistant furniture is an area where regulations are very strict in respect of rental accommodation. There are no "ifs" or "buts" when it comes to this and all landlords must make sure that all relevant items / furniture, meet the guidelines set under the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire)(Safety) Amendment Regulations 1993. As a general guide whilst letting, furniture that was made prior to 1988 is unlikely to meet the required standards and should either be removed or replaced before letting the property. Failure for non-compliance of these regulations are substantial should an accident occur; including large fines and even prison sentences imposed on the landlord.

The following furniture / items that are generally found within a property and that contain upholstery should be checked:
  • Beds, sofa beds and futons (including headboards and mattresses)
  • Children's or nursery furnitureFire-Labels-Beds
  • Patio / garden furniture that might be used within the property
  • Cushions, pillows (including chair cushions and sofas)
Please note the following furniture / items that are exempt from this legislation:
  • Duvets, pillow cases, blankets and sleeping bags
  • Curtains and carpets
  • Any furniture / items made prior 1950
Fire safe label
In order to check items for the fire safety standards, look for a permanent label stating the regulation it conforms to. Please note that bed bases and mattresses are not required to have this label attached, but they should have a label stating compliance with ignitability tests. Look for the compliance code BS 7177 on these items for confirmation.
Gas Safety
A gas safety check has to be renewed (at the expense of the landlord) by law each and every year whilst tenanted. This check can only be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer (please follow the link for more information regarding Gas Safe). Once a check has been carried out by a qualified engineer, a certificate will be provided to the landlord, with a copy also being provided to the tenant. A copy of this certificate must be provided to the tenant within 28 days of the checks taking place or prior to the tenants moving into the property.

Gas Safety Certificate

The gas safety certificate is a record showing that all gas related appliances within the property are deemed as safe for tenant use (these checks have been in place for landlords since 1998). If a tenant is injured or dies as a result of an unsafe gas appliance, which was a result of a landlord failing to maintain valid gas safety certification, the landlord could face charges as severe as manslaughter. Please note that even without an accident or injury occurring, a landlord can still incur charges if found non-compliant.

Electric Safety Certificate
Electrical testing has always been a grey area with regards to having it checked and obtaining certificates. This is due to no law currently being in place stating that a landlord has to have the electrics checked on an annual basis. However, even though there is not a direct law regarding this issue, there are still a number of regulations that do apply and do need to be complied to by a landlord. These regulations are covered by Common Law and various statutory regulations such as;
  • The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985
  • The Housing Act 2004
  • The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994
  • The Plugs and Sockets (Safety) Regulations 1994
  • With the last 2 coming under the Consumer Protection Act 1987
As with the failure to comply with Gas Safety checks, severe penalties can be issued if found guilty of not complying to the above regulations (including fines of 5,000 per item not complying, being sued by the tenant for civil damages, imprisonment and even manslaughter charges in the event of a death)

Therefore it is highly recommended that any wiring older than 15 years should be inspected on an annual basis (or brought up to standard), with longer period between checks on more recently wired properties (although still sensible to have check approximately every 4 years or so) Contact an electrician approved by the NICEIC (National Inspection Council For Electrical Inspection Contractors).
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
EPC's came into effect across the country on October 1 2008 and relates to all privately rented accommodation. The regulation outlines that all residential rental properties must have a valid EPC for tenants to view before contracts are signed (Please note: any property that had a tenancy agreement starting prior to October 1 2008 does not have to obtain an EPC until it re-enters the property market)

The reason behind the introduction of EPC's is to give more information regarding how to make the property more energy efficient and to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. They do this by providing 2 parts to the certificate; the first part is information on your property's actual energy use and carbon dioxide emissions, and the second is a recommendation report with suggestions to reduce energy use and carbon dioxide emissions (with charts to show where your property stands now and where it would stand if the recommendations were carried out)

epc

The above mentioned charts will give ratings from 'A' (being very efficient meaning lower utility bills) to 'G' (being inefficient meaning high utility bills). All properties rating are calculated using the same calculations, meaning you can compare you property to others.

Please be aware that tenants / applicants are to see these ratings and can have a bearing on which property they choose to rent (properties with better ratings means less out-going utility bills for them to pay)