Landlord Safety Checks – Key Legal Requirements for England, Wales, Scotland
The safety of tenants is of paramount importance, but with landlords owning over 5.3 million properties in the UK, it can be challenging to ensure that all are up to standard. Here are the essential legal requirements for landlord safety checks in England, Wales, and Scotland.
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Landlord Safety Checks – Key Legal Requirements for England, Wales, Scotland
In light of a spate of high-profile cases of fires in council flats – in which hundreds have been burnt out or fled their homes as they’ve caught fire – many landlords are taking more care when it comes to safety checks. It’s worth remembering that the law provides no exemption if a home is rented out privately – and any neglect can lead to criminal charges.
- Gas Safety Certificate (CP12): Landlords must ensure that gas appliances, flues, and installations are checked annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
- Electrical Safety Standards: From 1st July 2020, landlords must ensure that electrical installations in rental properties are inspected and tested by qualified and competent electricians at least every five years.
- Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms: Landlords must install smoke alarms on each floor of the property and carbon monoxide alarms in rooms with solid fuel appliances.
- Rent Smart Wales: Landlords must be registered with Rent Smart Wales and comply with the requirements of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016.
- Gas and Electrical Safety: Similar to England, landlords in Wales must ensure annual gas safety checks by Gas Safe registered engineers and electrical safety inspections by qualified electricians.
- Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms: Landlords must install and maintain smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in rental properties, ensuring compliance with legal requirements, standards, and guidelines for alarm installation, testing, and operation.
- Gas Safety: Landlords are required to ensure that gas appliances, installations, and flues are checked annually by Gas Safe registered engineers.
- Electrical Safety: Landlords must ensure that electrical installations, systems, and appliances in rental properties comply with the Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) requirements.
- Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms: Similar to other regions, landlords in Scotland must install and maintain smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in rental properties, ensuring compliance with legal requirements, standards, and guidelines for alarm installation, testing, and operation.
Landlord Safety Checks – England and Wales
In England and Wales, landlords remain legally responsible for the safety of their tenants – regardless of whether the property is rented out privately or from a council. The Deregulation Act 2015 introduced measures to give renters more excellent protection from fire, requiring that landlords undertake electrical and gas safety checks in all new tenancies. The checks are carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer and an Electrical Safety First registered electrician, respectively.
In a fire, landlords and tenants are expected to co-operate with a fire service rescue service. Landlords should also ensure adequate fire safety equipment on the premises – such as a fire extinguisher, smoke alarm, and fire blanket. This is particularly important if the home is a ‘short-let’ – i.e., where it’s rented out on a short-term basis by a third party, such as Airbnb.
It remains illegal to charge additional fees for the safety of tenants – and licensing, registration and insurance requirements apply. Landlords may also be obliged to provide first aid training for employees carrying out checks.
A landlord who fails to fulfil these requirements is guilty of a criminal offence under the Fire Precautions Act, which carries a maximum £5,000 fine or up to six months in prison.
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Landlord Safety Checks – Scotland
In Scotland, landlords are liable for the safety of all tenants, regardless of whether they are rented out privately or from a council. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has issued guidance to landlords on carrying out fire safety checks as part of their duties, including making sure all electrical goods comply with current regulations.
Additionally, regulations introduced in the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 make all landlords responsible for ensuring that the building meets fire safety standards and protecting people against fire hazards in rented properties.
It’s also important that landlords ensure that the gas and electricity meters are accurately installed and maintained by a registered engineer, who should inspect them at least twice yearly. In the event of a problem with either meter, tenants should contact the Gas Safe registered engineer in question immediately to request repairs or replacements – as failure to do so may be deemed negligent.
While the law varies across different parts of Scotland, landlords in Glasgow must provide a written tenancy agreement that includes information about how to contact the fire service should there be an emergency. In Edinburgh, Cardiff, and Aberdeen, landlords are required to provide tenants with a ‘Fire Risk Assessment’ and provide their contact details.
The purpose of a Fire Risk Assessment is to help landlords identify and eliminate any potential fire hazards in the home. There are different requirements for properties of different sizes – for example, those with three or more storeys require extra precautions. Landlords with buildings that are not fit for human habitation must ensure they don’t rent them out until repaired.
In all parts of Scotland, Landlords are legally required to provide a smoke alarm – unless the building in question has mains-wired smoke alarms. They can be battery or mains-wired, but landlords should make sure they’re working at the start of each new tenancy.
When it comes to providing fire safety equipment, the legal requirements vary across Scotland. Landlords with buildings that are not deemed suitable for human occupation must make sure they provide a fire blanket and a fire extinguisher.
By law, landlords must provide a written tenancy agreement to tenants that includes their contact details and how to contact the fire service. They are also required to provide tenants with a Fire Risk Assessment, which must be signed and returned by the tenant within 14 days of it being received. In Edinburgh and Aberdeen, landlords must keep a copy of the assessment for at least five years.
Landlord Safety Checks – To Conclude
Where a property is deemed unfit for human habitation, landlords have to ensure they mark it as such, and they are required to arrange for the premises to be repaired. Landlords have the option of entering into a ‘performance agreement’ with tenants – which states that if the property remains unfit after five years, tenants can apply to the court for an order that would force the landlord to carry out repairs.
Landlord Safety Checks – Key Legal Requirements for England, Wales, Scotland: Other useful links about Business Insurance:
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