A BASIC GUIDE FOR LANDLORDS
We appreciate that letting out your property can be a very confusing with all the legislation. Therefore we have produced this guide for you which should cover the basic procedures that you need to follow when letting out your property. As ARLA members we work to the highest standards and aim to guide you smoothly through the whole letting process.
This guide explains the most important points of tenants and landlords rights and responsibilities but please be aware it is only a basic guide therefore if you have any further questions then please do not hesitate to contact us on 01473 210210 and we will be happy to help.
Skip to the information your require by clicking on of the links below.
- WHAT ARE MY RESPONSIBILITIES AS A LANDLORD AND WHAT ARE THE RESPONISBILITIES OF MY TENANT?
- THE FURNITURE AND FURNISHINGS (FIRE) (SAFETY) REGULATIONS
- The REGULATIONS
- GAS SAFETY REGULATIONS
- EPC(ENERGY PERFORMANCE CERTIFICATE)
- TENANCY DEPOSIT SCHEMES
- RIGHT TO RENT IMMIGRATION CHECKS FOR LANDLORDS, AGENTS AND SUB-LETTINGS
- HEAT NETWORK REGULATIONS FOR LANDLORDS AND AGENTS
- UK GOVERNMENT GUIDANCE
“WHAT ARE MY RESPONSIBILITIES AS A LANDLORD AND WHAT ARE THE RESPONISBILITIES OF MY TENANT?”
This is a question that we get asked quite often therefore below are a list of the landlord and tenant responsibilities:
- Maintenance of appliances and equipment
- PAT testing of small appliances
- Insurance of the property and own contents
- Maintenance of the property
- Obtaining Permission to Let from mortgage company
- Compliance with furniture and furnishings regulations
- Compliance with gas regulations
- Giving the Tenant quiet enjoyment of the property
- Providing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
- Registering the deposit
- Fixed wiring inspection
- Right to rent Immigration checks
- Energy Performance Certificate
- Inventory of property
- Legionnaires risk assessments
- Payment of all utilities – gas, electricity, telephones, water & sewerage
- Not to decorate internally or externally without Landlords consent
Insurance of personal effects and tenant contents (if they decide to)
- To inform the Agent/Landlord as soon as any maintenance problems arise
- Not to keep pets on the premises without Landlords consent
- Maintenance of garden
- Drains, gutters, waste pipes to be kept functional and hygienic
- To take precautions to prevent infestation of the property
- Take reasonable precautions to prevent pipes from freezing
- Leaving the property clean and tidy at the end of the tenancy
- Allow access for inspections by landlord/agent or builders for repairs
- Allow access for viewings towards the end of the tenancy for re- letting/sale
- Removal or re-instatement of furniture
- Not to use the property for immoral or illegal purposes
- Leaving the property vacant
- Locks, keys and burglar alarms
- Not to cause a nuisance
- Not to playing loud music after a specified time
- TV license
- Not to damage wall coverings
- Not to install a satellite dish or cable TV without Landlords consent
THE FURNITURE AND FURNISHINGS (FIRE) (SAFETY) REGULATIONS
Fire is a risk in any household, but the risk is greater if the furniture catches fire easily. Before regulations were introduced, many items of furniture had covers that were not fire-resistant.
Regulations were introduced to limit the manufacture and distribution of furnishings and furniture that did not meet certain standards.
It is an offence under The Consumer Protection Act 1987 to supply or provide furniture in a let property which does not comply with the Fire Resistance Requirements contained within the Fire and Furnishings Regulations.
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 were introduced to protect furnished goods against fire. These were amended by the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) (Amendment) Regulations 1993.
The Regulations state that soft furnishings made or re-upholstered after 1 March 1989 must meet safety standards and be labelled as such.
Since 1 March 1993, new or second-hand furniture in rented properties has to meet all the fire resistance requirements.
Under the Regulations, upholstered furniture must have a fire-resistant filling and be properly labelled.
GAS SAFETY REGULATIONS
If gas appliances are not properly fitted, checked or ventilated, they can be very dangerous and can even kill. Gas appliances can give off carbon monoxide – a clear, odourless, poisonous gas. This can kill if someone is exposed to it for a relatively short time.
To reduce death or injury due to carbon monoxide poisoning, or other potential hazards linked to gas appliances (for example, explosion), strict regulations have been brought in which place duties on landlords and agents.
Gas Safety Regulations
The first gas safety regulations were introduced in 1994, and later amendments resulted in the current Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. These came into force on 31 October 1998, and replaced all previous regulations.
The Regulations place legal duties on landlords and the requirements are as follows
The following items must be safe :
- gas appliances
- pipework leading to the appliances
- flues from the appliances
The following checks must also be done:
- a mandatory yearly check to assess whether or not the system and appliances are safe and meet current standards
- a check on the meter to make sure there is no escape of gas
As an extra precaution, various carbon monoxide detectors are available and can be easily fitted in property.
The Regulations also cover appliances using bottled gas and the external storage of gas (propane gas).
Complying with the Regulations is a legal requirement and failure to do so is a criminal offence.
The maximum penalty for non-compliance is
- six months’ imprisonment, and/or
- a £5,000 fine
Gas safety checks must be done by an engineer registered with the Gas Safe Register. When an engineer visits a property to do a gas safety check, they must produce a gas safety record which is valid for 12 months. This must be sent to the agent and must be held for at least two years.
The law also states that a current gas safety record must be produced and given to a tenant before they move in.
Items that fail the Gas Safety Check will be shown on the gas safety certificate stating the defects or repairs required, or in some cases, condemning items which have serious faults and are of risk to the tenant’s health and safety.
Items listed as failed should not be used by the tenant and it is for the Landlord/agent to correct these faults and have them re-checked immediately so a Gas Safety Certificate can be issued.
Later checks must be done within a year of the previous check and a copy of the new gas safety record must be given to the tenants within 28 days of the check.
The landlord cannot leave it up to the tenant to arrange for a gas safety check to be carried out. It is the Landlords/Agents responsibility to arrange this.
NOTE: If a tenant has their own gas appliance that the landlord has not provided, then the landlord is responsible for the maintenance of the gas pipework but not for the actual appliance. Landlords must make sure all gas equipment (including any appliance left by the previous tenant) is safe or otherwise removed before re-letting.
Additional gas safety steps to take On 11th March 2015 the Housing Minister announced that landlords would be required to install and check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties. The Regulations are expected to come into force on 1st October 2015. The regulations for England are in respect of solid fuel burning combustion appliances, it is recommended that an approved CO alarm is fitted for any carbon burning combustion appliance. Landlords should make sure tenants know where to turn off the gas and what to do in the event of a gas emergency. If anyone suspects there is a gas escape they should immediately do the following: • Call the Gas Emergency number on 0800 111 999 •
(ENERGY PERFORMANCE CERTIFICATE)
Landlords are legally required to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) when renting out their home to new tenants.
An EPC gives you information about the properties energy efficiency and we now have to make this available to prospective tenants when advertising the property. This means it must be displayed on all window displays, websites and a copy must also be given to applicants before taking on the property. It remains valid for ten years and can be used for all new tenants in that period.
The EPC provides an energy performance rating from ‘A’ (highly efficient) to ‘G’ (least efficient). Because ratings are standard, tenants can easily compare the energy efficiency of one property to another. Ratings are influenced by type of property, its age, layout, construction, heating, lighting and insulation. The typical rating for a property is D or E.
Ratings enable prospective tenants to assess the estimated costs of heating the property and the amount of carbon dioxide released as a consequence.
The energy efficiency of hundreds of thousands of homes currently rated F and G need to be a minimum of E by 1 April 2018 – or face being unable to let them until they improve the rating. The regulations also mean that from 1 April 2016, tenants living in F- and G-rated homes will be able to request improvements such as more insulation. The landlord will then be legally bound to bring the home up to an E-rating.
TENANCY DEPOSIT SCHEMES
On the 6 April 2007, there was a change in the Law with regards to Tenant deposits, which affects all Landlords and their Agents.
This affects how all Agents and Private Landlords have to handle any Tenant deposits paid to them.
From this date all deposits received with regards to Assured Short hold Tenancies must be protected by a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme. These schemes act independently for agents and landlords and are required to act in an impartial way in their dealings with agents, landlords and tenants.
At Property First Management Ltd we use The Tenancy Dispute Service (TDS). This means once paid deposits are held in our client account which is insured and protected through the scheme.
The new legislation applies to all deposits taken on or after 6 April 2007.
Membership to the scheme will be mandatory for all Landlords and Agents who take a deposit. If a deposit is taken but the Landlord or Agent does not join an accredited Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme, the following penalties will be incurred;
- A fine of three times the amount of the deposit
- The right to repossession using the usual ‘notice only grounds’ will be lost
RIGHT TO RENT IMMIGRATION CHECKS FOR LANDLORDS, AGENTS AND SUB-LETTINGS
Under Section 22 of the Immigration Act 2014 a landlord must not authorise an adult to occupy property as their only or main home under a residential tenancy agreement unless the adult is a British citizen, or European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss national, or has a Right to Rent in the UK.
The law introduces a requirement from 1 February 2016 for all landlords of private rental accommodation in England to carry out Right to Rent checks for new tenancy agreements to determine whether occupiers aged 18 and over have the right to live in the UK legally.
NOTE: The law does not apply to children (under the age of 18) living at the property and you only need to check people who will be using your property as their only or main home. You do need to conduct checks on all adult occupiers not just the tenancy holder.
You need to make Right to Rent checks if you are a private landlord; have a lodger; are sub-letting a property; are an agent appointed by a landlord to make Right to Rent checks.
Any occupier who sub-lets all or part of their accommodation to a person for money will be classed as landlord under the law and liable for penalty. However, the sub-letter can ask their landlord to accept responsibility for conducting checks and this agreement should be made in writing.
In addition, under the law landlords can agree in writing with an agent who is responsible for conducting checks and so liable to a penalty. The agent can then carry out the checks and where necessary, make a report to the Home Office. The agent must also report back to the landlord. If an agent’s Terms of Business state they will undertake reference checks on the tenant, the agent will become liable for the Right to Rent checks.
HEAT NETWORK REGULATIONS FOR LANDLORDS AND AGENTS
The Heat Network (Metering and Billing) Regulations 2014 came into force on 18 December 2014. They implement the requirements in the EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive for Heat Suppliers to provide certain information about heating or cooling systems and the installation of meters and billing in apartment blocks and other converted dwellings with communal heating systems.
The regulations were amended in March 2015 and include moving the introduction of the duty of the Heat Supplier to notify from 15 April to 31 December 2015.
A landlord is a Heat Supplier if they supply and charge for the supply of heating, cooling or hot water to a Final Customer through a Communal Heating system or a District Heat Network. This includes the supply of heat as part of a package, paid for indirectly such as through ground rent, service changes or other means. NOTE: A Final Customer is the person who purchases heating, cooling or hot water for their own use from a Heat Supplier. The regulations do not require a contractual arrangement between the Heat Supplier and Final Customer, just that a payment is made. The regulations cover most district heat networks and communal heating in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
UK GOVERNMENT GUIDANCE
Guidance to compliance and enforcement of the legislation www.gov.uk/guidance/heat-networks
changes to section 21 notices 1/3 context The Deregulation Act 2015
There are number of important changes to when a landlord may serve a Section 21 Notice in order to regain possession of their property. The Act is designed to improve the possession process for landlords and tenants. The changes are new restrictions on serving Section 21 Notices early and a new template Section 21 form. The new rules also remove the need for a landlord to specify that a tenancy must end on the last day of a rental period; unless the tenancy started on a periodic basis without any initial fixed term where a longer notice period may be required depending on how often the tenant is required to pay rent (for example, if the tenant pays rent quarterly, they must be given at least three months’ notice, or, if they have a periodic tenancy which is half yearly or annual, they must be given at least six months’ notice (which is the maximum)).
NOTE: These changes have put into legislation the change to notice periods created by the Judgment in the case of Spencer v Taylor – i.e. that landlords and agents can use Section 21(1)(b) to regain possession by providing two calendar months’ notice (unless the tenancy started at a periodic as noted above). However, in the event that a tenant has paid an amount of rent in advance and a Section 21 Notice requires them to leave during the period paid for, the tenant is entitled to a refund of the rent paid for the days they are not occupying the property. The changes affect all new assured shorthold tenancies in England that start on or after 1 October 2015. All remaining assured shorthold tenancies in England will be swept under the new rules on 1 October 2018. What does this mean? Timing restrictions: Landlords cannot validly serve a Section 21 Notice in the first four months of a tenancy. However, where a tenancy has been renewed the landlord will be able to serve a Section 21 Notice at any point during a renewed tenancy.
Landlords will not be able to serve a Section 21 Notice on tenancies that begin on or after 1st October 2015 unless they have provided tenants with the following information:
- A Gas Safety Certificate covering all fixed as well as portable gas appliances provided by the landlord for the tenants’ use.
- The property’s Energy Performance Certificates (EPC); except where a property is not required to have an EPC – such as where the landlord is letting a room on a single AST in a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).
- The Department for Communities and Local Government “How to Rent – The Checklist for renting in England” which can be downloaded at: arla.co.uk/info-guides/tenant-guides/how-to-rent-guide. This can be provided in electronic format, or if the tenant requests it, or does not have access to IT facilities, should be supplied in paper copy. Agents and landlords should supply the document itself as it is unlikely a link to where the document can be found on the internet will be sufficient. This should be given at the start of a new tenancy. view the deregulation act 2015 in full: www.legislation.gov.uk/ ukpga/2015/20/contents/
- The Prescribed Information relating to the protection of a tenants’ deposit. See ARLA’s Fact Sheet on changes to Tenancy Deposit Protection (August 2015): arla.co.uk/members/fact-sheets impact Landlords will no longer be able to seek possession using section 21:
- During the first four months of the tenancy, or, in the case of a renewed tenancy, during the first four months of the original tenancy;
- Where the landlord is prevented from retaliatory eviction under section 33 of the Deregulation Act 2015;
- Where the landlord has not complied with the Required Information specified above;
- Where the landlord has not complied with the tenancy deposit protection legislation; or
- Where a property requires a licence but is unlicensed. timetable The new rules come into force on 1 October 2015 and will apply to any Assured Shorthold Tenancies granted on or after this date. NOTE: The provisions do not apply to Periodic Tenancies (when the fixed period ends) that arise on or after 1 October 2015 when the fixed term of those tenancies began prior to 1 October 2015. However, the new rules will apply to all Assured Shorthold Tenancies in existence after the end of the period of three years (1 October 2018) regardless of whether the tenancy began prior to 1 October 2015.
NOTE: The requirement for landlords to provide the Required Information (specified above) about the tenancy will continue to only apply to tenancies entered into on or after 1 October 2015
The Deregulation Act 2015 Preventing Retaliatory Evictions
The aim of the Housing and Development section of the Deregulation Act 2015 is to encourage landlords to keep their property in a decent condition and prevent tenants from feeling unable to complain about poor or unsafe property conditions because they fear eviction. the changes The Act introduces new rules designed to prevent retaliatory evictions whereby a landlord evicts a tenant by the use of the Section 21 procedure simply because they have made a legitimate complaint about the condition of the property. The new rules affect England only and come into force on 1 October 2015. Eligibility The provisions for retaliatory eviction in the Deregulation Act 2015 apply to all assured shorthold tenancies created after 1 October 2015, and also fixed term replacement tenancies created after 1 October 2015. The provisions do not apply where a periodic tenancy arises after 1 October 2015, on the coming to an end of a fixed term tenancy which was entered into before 1 October 2015.
NOTE: From October 2018 (three years after the new rules come into force) they will apply to all tenancies, regardless of when they began.
What does this mean?
The new rules restrict a landlord’s ability to serve a Section 21 Notice to recover possession of their property if:
1). The tenant has made a written complaint to the landlord or agent about the condition of their property or any common parts of the property (hallways, stairs, and gardens) which tenants have the right to use. The Act says that agents and tenants must put repair requests and resulting actions in writing. As a result, agents should put a written repair reporting structure in place to ensure no repairs or complaints are missed. view the deregulation act 2015 in full: www.legislation.gov.uk/ ukpga/2015/20/contents/
NOTE: A tenant’s complaint does not need to be in writing if they do not know the postal or email address of the landlord or agent. Landlords and agents should therefore ensure that tenants know how to contact them so they have evidence about whether or not a complaint was received and what that complaint stated. NOTE: Under the Property Ombudsman Code of Practice for Residential Letting Agents, agents must keep clear and full written records of their relationship with landlords and tenants for at least six years. Those records must be produced when required by the Property Ombudsman.
2). The landlord or their agent has not provided an adequate written response within 14 days or responded by serving a Section 21 Notice. An adequate response is one that is in writing and provides a description of the action that the landlord or agent proposes to take to address the complaint and the time-scale in which they plan to do this.
NOTE: If a Section 21 Notice has been served before a complaint arises then the Notice will be valid and can be relied upon in court.
3). After no adequate written response was received the tenant then complains to the relevant local authority who have decided to serve a Relevant Notice in respect of the property or have carried out emergency remedial action themselves using their powers under HHSRS – the Housing Health and Safety Rating System. A Relevant Notice is an Improvement Notice (Category 1 or Category 2 health and safety hazard) or an Emergency Remedial Action Notice. NOTE: It will be up to the local authority as to how they determine what is a Category 1 or Category 2 hazard based on the tenant and property they are accessing. However, in general terms, Category 1 hazards represent an immediate threat to the health or safety of a tenant such as the property not having adequate heating. Category 2 hazards signify less urgent threats to the health or safety of a tenant and could include a scuffed carpet in the living room.
If the Local Authority issues a Relevant Notice, a Section 21 Notice cannot be served for 6 months from the date of that notice. NOTE: If the Relevant Notice is suspended for any reason, you cannot serve a Section 21 Notice for six months after the suspension is lifted. Where the local authority has served an improvement notice or notice of emergency remedial action, the tenant is protected from eviction for 6 months from the date of service of that notice, regardless of whether they raise the issue with the landlord first. Where tenants are seeking to have a s.21 notice that has already been served to be found invalid, they need to have raised the complaint with the landlord first.
Evictions protection for landlords against the changes There are various circumstances where the tenant is not supported by the new rules: • If the tenant failed to use the property in a tenant-like manner. NOTE: A tenant-like manner is when a tenant takes proper care of the property. For instance, tenants must unstop the sink when it is blocked by their waste and turn off the water and empty the boiler if they go away for the winter. Tenants must also ensure that they, their family and any guests do not damage the property. If they do, the tenant must repair it. • The bad condition of the property is due to breach of the tenant’s responsibilities in the tenancy agreement. • When the Section 21 Notice is served the property is genuinely on the market for sale.
NOTE: This means where the landlord intends to sell the property to an independent third party. It does not include where the landlord intends to sell to a family member, business partner or anyone directly linked to the business partner.
- The landlord is a private registered provider of social housing.
- The property was mortgaged before the tenancy was granted and the mortgage lender wishes to exercise their power of sale and requires the property to be vacant. the impact Any failure to deal with complaints and repairs could become a serious and very expensive issue because a poorly maintained property means landlords may not be able to regain possession of their rental property for six months (i.e. from the date on which a local authority serves an improvement notice).
Regulations for the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms for landlords
Context: On 11 March 2015 the Housing Minister announced that landlords would be required to install and check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties. This is part of the Government’s plans to create a bigger, better and safer private rented sector. New regulations were passed by both Houses of Parliament on Monday 14 September 2015. The Changes: The Government has introduced the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations (2015) to make landlords in the private rented sector in England responsible for ensuring that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are appropriately installed and are in proper working order at the start of a new tenancy. NOTE: The Regulations effect England only and come into force on 1st October 2015. Eligibility: The law will apply to landlords renting residential accommodation to one or more tenants occupying all or part the property as their only or main place to live. NOTE: The law will not apply to social landlords. what you need to do: From the 1 October 2015 landlords will have to ensure that a smoke alarm is fitted on every floor of their property where there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation. They will also have to put a carbon monoxide alarm in any room where a solid fuel is burnt, such as wood, coal or biomass and includes open fires. It does not include gas, oil or LPG. Landlords or agents will then have to ensure that the alarms work at the start of each new tenancy. For example by pressing the test button until the alarm sounds. NOTE: The start of each new tenancy is the first day of the tenancy and the first day of the tenancy is the date stipulated in the tenancy agreement (even if the tenant decides to actually move into the property on a later date). Landlords are also required to demonstrate that the alarms were working at the start of the tenancy, so it is advisable to get the tenant to sign a receipt confirming the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working or ensure it’s in the inventory at check-in which is signed by the tenant. During the tenancy it is a tenant’s responsibility to ensure the alarms work and it is their responsibility to change the batteries during the tenancy. However, should the alarms become faulty during the tenancy landlords are responsible for replacing them. NOTE: Under the proposals, a bathroom or lavatory is classed as a room used for living accommodation and a room covers halls or landings. Stairways are also included in the regulations. For instance, for maisonettes or flats above shops where the flat is on the first floor but you enter via stairs on the ground floor a smoke alarm will be required in the stairwell. A new tenancy will include agreements entered into on or after 1 October 2015. It does not include a periodic statutory tenancy which starts following the end of a shorthold tenancy. In addition, landlords do not need to check the alarms when a tenancy is renewed under the same conditions i.e. for the same premises by the same landlord to the same tenant. On 4 September 2015 the Department for Communities and Local Government issued an explanatory booklet to help landlords further understand and comply with the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015: www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/458550/
There is a distinction so far as electrical safety is concerned between the fixed installations (i.e. wiring circuits, switches, sockets, light fittings and circuit boards on the one hand and appliances which can be plugged in and which will often be portable (e.g. refrigerators, electric cookers, kettles, toasters etc on the other).
With rented residential accommodation it is the Landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the electrical installation and appliances provided by the landlord are safe when the tenancy begins and are in proper working order throughout the tenancy. At the start of the tenancy and throughout both must be free of risk of injury to tenants and residents. The local authority can take action to enforce electrical safety in residential accommodation under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).
The Guidance makes recommendations regarding inspections and testing of the electrical installations and appliances.
Houses in Multiple Occupation
If the property is a house in multiple occupation then the Management Regulations require the manager to take safety measures and to maintain electrical installations. Very importantly for all HMOs (not just licensable HMOs) there is an obligation to have fixed electrical installations in every HMO inspected and tested at intervals not exceeding 5 years by a qualified electrician. A certificate must be obtained. The local authority can require a certificate to be produced in 7 days if they ask.
Part P Building Regulations
Part P of the Building Regulations requires that most fixed electrical installation work must meet Building Regulation requirements. Thus, the work must either be pre-notified to the local authority or be carried out by a registered electrician under one of the Government approved schemes.
The Landlord should carry out a regular basic visual safety check of the electrical installation to ensure that these are safe. This should detect broken items such as sockets and light switches or signs of scorching around the sockets due to overloading or damaged cables etc.
The Institute of Electrical Engineers recommends 10 years as the maximum period between tests of the electrical installation by an electrician but this relates to the period between the initial inspection (when the installation was first installed) and the first periodic inspection/test. Subsequent periods for inspection/tests would depend on the condition of the installation. What the Electrical Safety Council now recommends in this latest Guidance for rented accommodation is that period inspections/tests by a qualified electrician are carried out at least every 5 years or on a change of tenancy. As pointed out above, if the property is a house in multiple occupation of any kind (which will include shared houses) there is a statutory requirement to carry out such inspection/test every 5 years anyway.
The Institute of Electrical Engineers also recommends for residential accommodation that an inspection/test is carried out on a change of occupancy. These are inspections/tests by a qualified electrician.
The Electrical Safety Council Guide says that where a change of tenancy occurs within a short period (for example not more than 6 months) a full inspection/test may not always be required. However, it is imperative that a landlord’s representative carries out a visual electrical safety inspection prior to reletting. This should undertake a manual test of any residual current devices.
As an alternative to a full test/inspection the Guide suggests a visual condition report, also carried out by a qualified electrician. However a visual condition report is only suitable where the installations have been inspected and tested in the last two years and the result was satisfactory or any resulting defects have been rectified.
In relation to portable electrical appliances, there is no legal obligation in the case of rented residential accommodation to carry out a portable appliance test (PAT test). The Government have recently confirmed that this is the case. It is left to landlord’s discretion. The exception to this would be where you have an employee working or living in rented accommodation (e.g. in a care home type situation). However, the Electrical Safety Council’s Guidance recommends portable appliance testing to satisfy the obligation to ensure that any portable electrical appliances which the landlord provides under the tenancy are safe at the point of letting, and at periodic intervals after that.
The Guidance recommends that when providing portable appliances for tenants, the landlord should check that every appliance has a CE mark. It also recommends that you should only provide appliances with additional safety marks e.g. the British Standard Guidance mark or the BEAB approved mark.
Tenants should be provided with instruction manuals and be told to read and follow them.
If you do not undertake PAT tests, the Guidance recommends that portable electrical appliances should be checked by the landlord before letting the property to ensure that there are no cuts/abrasions to the cable, the plug is satisfactory, there are no loose parts or screws, that there are no signs of burning and there is no damage. You are recommended to regularly check them after that.
There is detailed guidance regarding the frequency of carrying out PAT testing. PAT testing must only be carried out by a qualified person. Examples of the recommended periods are as follows:
|Period of years between PAT tests|
|Refrigerators/washing machines/electric fires||4|
|Portable Equipment – table lamps, fans, kettles, toasters, vacuum cleaners||2|
There is also guidance by the Electrical Safety Council as to when fire alarms should be inspected/tested.
Fire alarm systems need to be regularly tested. The routine tests which are to be carried out frequently do not require specialist knowledge and can either be carried out by the landlord or the tenant. It is essential that a log book record is kept. If the tenant is to be responsible for testing, the landlord must instruct the tenant as to what must be done and periodically check the situation to see if everything is being done (e.g. by checking the log book).
In the case of houses in multiple occupation (i.e. all HMOs; not just licensable HMOs) the landlord is obligated under the management regulations to ensure that fire alarms are in proper working order.
The testing/maintenance requirements vary according to the type of system:
Grade A systems (these are the systems where there is a control panel).
Routine testing – at least one detector or call point in each zone should be tested weekly.
Routine inspections/maintenance – A six monthly service should be carried out by a specialist alarm engineer. This is a full test.
Note:in the past the suggested frequency for such tests was 12 months but the latest guidance is now that these tests should be carried out every 6 months in the case of Grade A systems.
Grade B system (interlinked systems where there is no control panel). These systems should be tested at least once a week by operating all the fire alarm devices. For smoke alarms and heat detectors this can be carried out by use of a test button on each of the alarms.
Routine maintenance – these require periodic cleaning in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
Routine inspections – a routine check must be carried out by a qualified electrical every 12 months.
These will require periodic inspection by a qualified electrician in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommended frequency.
Maintaining electrical safety is absolutely crucial when letting out your property. The RLA has lots of information on safety guidelines as well as a wealth of guidance in other specific areas such as protecting deposits, dealing with tenants who fall into arrears and more general advice to help make your life as a landlord easier.