There are many legal obligations to consider when making a house ready for residential letting. Failure to comply with current legislation can have serious consequences, both financial and practical, perhaps leading to a delay in recovering possession of your property. There is of course a potential cost involved in preparing your house for letting but there is an added value in providing homes which are safe and healthy. Happy tenants are more likely to be longer term tenants, reducing the number and cost of re-lets and less wear and tear to the property.
The ‘Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)’ (Housing Act 2004) requires that ‘any dwelling should provide a safe and healthy environment for any potential occupier or visitor’ and let houses should be safe, well insulated, dry with adequate means of heating and free from any hazard or defect which may have an adverse impact upon the health or safety of any occupant.
Gas Safety (Installation And Use) Regulations 1998
All gas appliances fitted to tenanted homes must have a yearly safety check carried out by a suitably qualified ‘Gas-Safe’ engineer. These checks are in addition to any normal annual service and cover the correct safe operation of each appliance to safeguard your interests and the well-being of your tenants. A dated record, noting any defects and action taken, must be kept by the Landlord and Managing Agent and a copy issued to the tenant.
Any new appliance installed during a tenancy should also be tested. These checks are obligatory and unless you engage your own registered contractor, we will instruct an approved engineer to visit your property on your behalf, prior to the initial letting period and (for managed properties) annually thereafter. Failure to comply with these regulations is a criminal offence. Let Only Landlords are sent reminders for gas safety renewals and are responsible for on-going compliance.
Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations Act 1994
Under the Regulations anyone who ‘hires out’ electrical equipment must ensure that it is safe. The letting of property is caught by these regulations and includes all domestic electrical appliances both portable and fixed. Hackney & Leigh Ltd will therefore make arrangements for a suitably qualified electrician to visit your property prior to the initial letting period and (for fully managed property), annually thereafter, to test and record all appliances including heaters/boilers. Anything non-compliant should be repaired or removed and any equipment subsequently added to or removed from your property must be notified to us so that the check list can be amended. (‘Let only’ landlords will be responsible for on-going compliance).
Wiring Installation Unless a current valid certificate can be provided, an inspection of the building’s wiring installation (cabling, earthing etc.) will also be arranged. The cost will depend upon the size of the property and will be agreed with you. The electrician will provide a comprehensive report detailing any defects in the installation and recommend when the installation should be checked again. We will contact you if any repair or remedial work is required to allow you to put right any defective equipment.
Please note that Hackney & Leigh will not accept instructions to let any property which has an un-satisfactory wiring installation.
The Furniture & Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations
Any furniture supplied with a rented property must comply with these regulations. Only furniture manufactured since 1993 (or before 1950 and not re-covered), may remain in the property. Except for antiques, all furniture and covers supplied must carry the appropriate permanent label to show that they comply.
Furniture intended for private use in a dwelling, including children’s furniture, beds, headboards, mattresses, pillows, sofabeds, futons, convertibles, nursery furniture, garden furniture suitable for use in a dwelling, scatter cushions and seat pads, loose and stretch covers for furniture.
Sleeping bags, bed clothes, duvets, pillowcases, loose covers for mattresses, curtains, carpets, pre-1950 upholstered furniture (if pre-1950 furniture has been re-upholstered, the new upholstery should comply with 1993 regulations), all upholstered furniture complying with 1988 Regulations.
Non-gas boilers, fires & heating appliances:
To ensure that all installations within rented properties are safe, all Oil-fired/non-gas Boilers and Heaters including Wood Burners and Open Fires should be serviced and/or checked and chimneys swept at least annually. These checks are obligatory and unless you engage your own contractor, we will arrange this on your behalf.
Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Regulations require that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are installed and maintained at all properties as appropriate, but tenants are responsible for testing and maintaining them during the tenancy. Where absent, we will arrange installation on your behalf.
General Product Safety Regulations 1994
‘General Product Regulations’ are a “catch all” by providing that any product supplied to a ‘consumer’ must be safe, whether or not it is supplied in the course of commercial activity. A dangerous product is defined as one which is not safe. A house ‘supplied’ for domestic use is regarded as a product. The effect of these regulations is to cover anything which may have escaped the Gas, Electrical and Furnishings Regulations! Therefore unstable furnishings or fixtures, stepladders, loose shelving or damaged paving – anything that could cause an accident, will be encompassed by them and should be removed/repaired prior to letting.
Health and Safety legislation requires that Landlords carry out Risk Assessments on their properties’ domestic water systems to identify where there might be a risk of the Legionella bacteria occurring. Most domestic properties will be at low risk, but it is important to undertake a Risk assessment, introducing control measures and on-going monitoring where necessary.
If you have not carried out a Legionella Risk Assessment on your property, Hackney & Leigh can arrange this on your behalf.
Rented properties with private water supplies must have a Local Authority Risk Assessment carried out at least every 5 years and the supply tested annually thereafter to ensure a safe supply when letting. Any works identified must be carried out prior to letting.
These tests may also include a test for “Radon” in high risk areas. Similarly, properties with private drainage must observe relevant regulations when letting and as with water supplies Hackney & Leigh are able to offer appropriate advice to Landlords.