Ensure The Health and Wellbeing Of Your Occupants
Private landlords should follow strict health and safety regulations with regards to fire, gas, electricity, legionella and asbestos safety.
There are more than 2.5 million private landlords in the UK, with around 2.2 million with properties in England according to the Office for National Statistics. Offering private rental accommodation can be a lucrative investment opportunity, bringing in significant income each month particularly for those landlords who have built up a portfolio of properties. But everyone who wants to enter the private rental market should have a thorough understanding of their health and safety obligations. These regulations are created to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all occupants of private rental accommodation.
Along with being responsible for carrying out maintenance and repairs to ensure that the property is habitable and provides a good standard of living, landlords have duties towards five main areas of health and safety. These are gas safety, electrical safety, fire safety, asbestos and legionella.
Landlords must carry out an annual gas safety check on each appliance within your accommodation as well as the flues. Additionally, you should keep records of your gas safety certificates to provide as evidence where required. Any pipework, flues or appliances that are found to be substandard must be repaired and maintained so that they reach the required safety levels. Your gas safety check should be conducted by a Gas Safe engineer.
When it comes to electrical safety, landlords must carry out electrical testing prior to tenants moving in. Ongoing testing is recommended at least every five years, or every time there is a change in tenancy. If you own a house in multiple occupation, or HMO, the five year check is mandatory. Visual periodic checks of your appliances should take place to ensure that everything is in safe working order. Your electrical testing should be carried out by a NICEIC-registered electrician.
Fire safety should always be a top priority for landlords to safeguard their tenants. Smoke detectors should be installed on each floor of your property as well as carbon monoxide detectors in any room with a solid fuel burning system such as a wood burning stove. Stairs should be kept clear in the event of an evacuation and you should also make sure that self-closing fire doors are installed in corridors and staircases as well as the entrance to all flats. Ensure that tenants are aware that they should not wedge these doors open. Fire exits should be clearly labelled and you can equip the accommodation with an extinguisher and fire blanket.
In accordance with the COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations) along with the Health and Safety Work Act of 1974, landlords must identify the potential risk of legionella being present in the building. This can be achieved through regular legionella testing. If any risks are identified, then you should take steps to mitigate these risks including the cleaning of water tanks or upgrading your fittings. Landlords should keep records of all assessments.
Asbestos may be present in any building that was constructed before 2000. Landlords must take steps to minimise any exposure that their tenants have to this hazardous material. Landlords must survey as to whether any asbestos is present, and assess as to the likelihood of it being disturbed. Where it is discovered, a strategy should be created to decide whether the asbestos should be removed or whether it can remain safely in place. All records should be kept in accordance with Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.
Landlords should take their responsibilities of these five main health and safety regulations extremely seriously in order to avoid hefty penalties or prosecution.