The importance of home safety is a no-brainer. While tenants have a responsibility to be mindful of how they treat the property, landlords have a responsibility in making sure their properties are safe and habitable, thus preventing accidents and protecting the well-being of occupants. Below we explore some of the main issues to be aware of, and what landlords can do to minimise hazards.
- An annual gas safety check should be carried out on each gas appliance/flue.
- Gas appliances should be checked only by a Gas Safe-registered engineer, and a record of safety checks should be kept and provided to prospective tenants before they move in.
- If the property has a solid-fuel (i.e. wood or coal) burning appliance then the room it is housed in will also require a carbon monoxide alarm. However, these provisions vary between the countries of the UK, so make sure you check what your requirements are depending on which region you let property in. For instance, in Scotland it is a requirement to have a carbon monoxide detector in all rooms with a solid-fuel burning appliance.
- Landlords are obligated to install smoke alarms in their properties and to make sure that they are in proper working order at the start of each new tenancy.
- While considerations will vary depending on the size of the property, basic risk assessments should still be carried out and recorded, along with routine maintenance and servicing activity.
- Certain HMOs have additional requirements and the use of a fire safety logbook can be helpful.
- Carry out a basic safety check of electrical installation and have the property inspected by a registered electrician.
- Ensure that any appliance provided to the tenants is properly tested (new appliances from propriety retailers can be assumed safe at purchase), and that they have at least a CE marking. A CE marking appears on products that are traded in the single market in the European Economic Area (EEA).
- In addition, it is good practice to increase the level of protection from shocks by the use of an RCD (residual current device). An RCD is a sensitive safety device that switches off electricity automatically if there is a fault.
Prevention of mould and condensation
- Ensure that the property is well-insulated, gutters are clear, and that there are no cracks and cavities in walls or roofs.
- Inspect the plumbing and be mindful that pipes do not leak or ‘sweat’ (i.e. become wet with condensation) and that fittings are secure and supply valves close properly.
- Make sure that there is adequate ventilation for the shower and bathroom, and make sure that tiles are properly sealed and grouted.
- Provide over-hob extractor fans to reduce steam from cooking appliances.
Of course, these 4 tips really only scratch the surface of home safety, with 29 categories of hazard being considered under the statutory Housing Health & Rating System (HHSRS). It’s important that landlords take the time to familiarise themselves with the issues, conduct research and take the proper precautions.
The NLA offers a one-day course on home safety and the letting of safe homes, as well as a course for those wishing to carry out safety checks on portable electrical appliances. In addition, the NLA offers a variety of resources to help landlords make their properties safer, from a network of recognised suppliers, alarms, testing equipment and log books.
For more information about the NLA, visit www.landlords.org.uk
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