Safety in Private Lets 1st Apr 2016

New regulations have been added over recent months in order to ensure rental properties meet certain safety standards. It is a landlord’s responsibility to ensure all of the following legal requirements are met, and there can be large penalties for non-compliance. The Key Place can arrange any of the following (with the exception of Landlord registration which must be done by the landlord) for our fully managed landlords.

Landlord Registration:
Every landlord renting out a property must be registered with their local authority. This is renewed every 3 years. Non-compliance can result in a £50,000 fine and up to a 5 year ban as a landlord. Landlords must also register their letting agent if they use one – failure to do this can result in a £1000 fine.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC):

This assesses the energy efficiency of your property and gives you a rating accordingly. In the future (the date is still to be decided) rental properties will be required to meet a minimum standard. An EPC must be renewed every 10 years or sooner if you make alterations to your property such as cavity wall insulation, new boiler, new windows etc, which changes the EPC rating of your property. Failure to provide an EPC can result in a £1000 fine for landlords.

Landlords Gas Safety Certificate:
This must be carried out by a qualified gas engineer who will assess all gas appliances in order to ensure they are fit for purpose. This must be carried out annually. Failure to follow gas safety requirements is a criminal offence and may result in prosecution through the Health and Safety Executive.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms:
Since the 1st December 2015 landlords must have a carbon monoxide (CO) detector fitted in their property if they have any gas appliances/heating. The detector must be mains powered or have a long life battery and must be sited in any space which contains a carbon based fuel appliance, such as gas/oil boiler, gas/oil fire, wood burning stove or open coal fire. Cooking appliances are excluded. There should also be one in any bedroom or living room which is bypassed by a flue. Detectors must comply with BS safety standards. If battery operated, they must be replaced before the expiry date which is printed on it. Landlords who fail to provide CO detectors can be referred to the Private Rented Housing Panel (PRHP) by either the tenant, or the local authority. The PRHP can then issue an enforcement order which obliges the landlord to comply within a set timeframe or face further action including rent penalties for non-compliance (a criminal offence).

Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR):
This became a legal requirement on 1st December 2015. A qualified electrician must check the safety of the electrics in all rental properties. Work to the electrics may be required as a result of the check. The EICR must be done every 5 years. Landlords who fail to provide an EICR can be referred to the Private Rented Housing Panel (PRHP) by either the tenant, or the local authority. The PRHP can then issue an enforcement order which obliges the landlord to comply within a set timeframe or face further action including rent penalties for non-compliance (a criminal offence).

Portable Appliance Testing (PAT):
This also became a legal requirement on 1st December 2015. A qualified PAT tester must check the electrical safety of every item with a plug that is provided within the rental property for the tenant’s use. This must be done every 5 years, apart from in House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) properties where it is every 3 years, although it is recommended that PAT testing is done more frequently. Landlords who fail to comply can be referred to the Private Rented Housing Panel (PRHP) by either the tenant, or the local authority. The PRHP can then issue an enforcement order which obliges the landlord to comply within a set timeframe or face further action including rent penalties for non-compliance (a criminal offence).

Smoke and Heat Alarms:
There must be one functioning smoke alarm in the room which is frequently used by the occupants for general daytime living purposes, eg lounge. There must also be one functioning smoke alarm in every circulation space, such as hallways and landings on every floor. There must be one heat alarm in every kitchen. All alarms must be hard wired and interlinked. These must be tested regularly. Failure to comply with these requirements is a criminal offence and will be dealt with by the Private Rented Housing Panel. Penalties include not being allowed to rent out the property, or a reduction in the rent of 90% until the landlord has complied.

Legionella Risk Assessment:

All rental properties now must be risk assessed for the Legionella bacteria which cause Legionnaires’ Disease. If risks are identified, action must be taken. The assessment must be reviewed periodically in case anything changes. If a tenant becomes ill as a result of inaction from the landlord, they may face prosecution through the Health and Safety Executive.

House in Multiple Occupation (HMO):
Landlords are required by law to have an HMO license for any rental property that houses 3 or more unrelated people. There are stringent inspections that will likely result in alterations having to be made to a property in order for it to comply with required regulatory standards. These alterations may not be cheap. The application must be renewed annually, which also carries a cost. There are hefty fines of up to £50,000 for non-compliance and this may result in a criminal record.

Repairing Standards:
The Repairing Standard, contained in the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006, covers the legal and contractual obligations of private landlords to ensure that a property meets a minimum physical standard (wind and water tight, interior and exterior in good state of repair etc). There are serious penalties for non-compliance which can include cessation of rent and criminal charges being brought.