Every landlord wants to provide their tenant with a safe place to live, and nobody goes out of their way to break the rules – however with so many regulations surrounding the industry, sometimes you can break a rule without even realising it!
URBAN’s guide to the lesser known rental rules, to make sure you don’t slip up…
You may be a little taken aback if your tenant approaches you with a request to increase your properties EPC rating, but if your property is rated E, F or G you must take heed.
Tenants are now legally entitled to request landlords increase a property’s EPC rating, and it will become illegal to let a property with an EPC rating of F or G in 2018.
Your EPC will give you insight as to where your property is not performing as well as it possibly could, and if you are looking to boost the environmental footprint of your property this is the best place to start. There are plenty of simple changes you can implement which can make a huge difference, and they needn’t be expensive or complicated.
Have a look at our ‘Green Guide’ for an idea of how to boost your property performance, and how much you could save
Blinds and Window Coverings
We use them daily, but it’s possible that many of us are unaware of the legislation that surrounds blinds and window coverings.
Many landlords favour a simple blind over fussy curtains in rental properties, and most tenants also prefer the easy to clean, simple option. However, when supplying the fixture, landlords should consider if the device complies with safety regulations.
The British Standards Institution published standards in February 2014 (based on European Standards) which addressed the risks posed to children by internal blinds and corded window coverings.
The standards apply to blinds which include cords or chains that have a hanging loop which could pose a hazard in properties where there are children aged between 0 and 42 months.
All compliant devices will be fitted with a safety measure designed to prevent accidental
strangulation of a young child by the looped cord.
If you have existing blinds or tracks in place with cords already fitted, don’t worry – you don’t have to change them all. Check to see if they have any long loops, and if so, you can fit
a ‘cord tidy’ to the wall or windowsill which will secure the loose cord, and help prevent any accidents.
Oil fired boilers
Although not as common as they once were, there are still plenty of properties around the UK than are reliant on oil fired boilers.
If your rental property is oil powered, legally there are no specific landlord safety certificates you must comply with – but that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook completely. The BS 5410: Part 1 specification requires all oil-fired appliances and equipment to be serviced in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions. If this is not complied with, and something
were to go wrong, you would be left with little defence.
Considering this, it is important that an annual check of all equipment and boiler service is carried out by an OFTEC Registered Engineer. You can find an engineer in your area on the OFTEC website here.
Whilst there are no strict legal requirements regarding the management of legionella in domestic rental properties, there are very clear best practice guidelines outlined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The HSE emphasise that legionella testing/sampling is generally not required in domestic hot water systems and then only in exceptional circumstances. However as a landlord, you have a duty to ensure that the risk of exposure to tenants, residents and visitors by legionella is properly assessed and controlled. If you fail to follow the guidelines, any subsequent claims or attempted prosecutions could be successful.
For more information on your duty as a Landlord, a downloadable PDF is
available from the Health and Safety Executivehere.
Furniture and furnishings
Many tenants are keen to let properties that come furnished, which means landlords must consider the implications of their furniture choices.
For many landlords, it makes sense to fill the property with easily replaceable furniture from everyone’s favourite flat-pack store – this is a great option, as most new furniture and soft furnishings comply fully with the fire safety regulations that must be adhered to.
However, with shiny new flat pack in situ, it’s easy to forget about any furniture that’s hidden away in sheds, lofts or storage space. Any furniture that is located in the property (including furniture, soft furnishings and garden furniture that is used inside) must still comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended in 1989, 1993 and 2010). In order to comply, you must ensure that every piece of furniture in the property meets the following requirements:
- Filling materials must meet specified ignition requirements
- Upholstery composites must be cigarette resistant
- Covers must be match resistant
- A permanent label must be fitted to every item of new furniture (with
the exception of mattresses and bed-bases)
- A display label must be fitted to every item of new furniture at the
point of sale (with the exception of mattresses, bed-bases, pillows, scatter
cushions, seat pads, loose covers sold separately from the furniture and
- The first supplier of domestic upholstered furniture in the UK must
maintain records for five years to prove compliance
For more information, visit the Fire Safety Advice Centre here
Even if every item of furniture in your property is fire-safe, accidents still happen, and as a landlord you have a duty of care to ensure that you follow fire safety regulation and provide your tenants with a safe property to live in.
Under the 2004 Housing Act, you must ensure that your property has adequate escape routes, which would allow your tenants easy access in the event of an emergency.
Depending on the type of property, the nature of escape route you must provide may vary – different buildings have very different requirements, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to. If your tenant is not ably-bodied, or has a visual, hearing or mental impairment you may have to take this into account as well.
For more information, a downloadable PDF of the LaCoRS guide is available here.
When you consider your properties windows and doors, you are probably more concerned with their energy efficiency, rather than the safety of the glass. However, you should possibly turn your attention to the glazing as well, as it also needs to stand up to rigorous safety standards in order to comply with building regulations.
Some windows and glazed doors in residential properties may fall under the category of requiring safety glass in ‘critical locations’. Identifying a critical location can be
complicated, but there is a guide available via the Residential Landlords
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