Safety Regulations, Legislation & Precautions
Failure to comply with the following safety regulations may constitute a criminal offence under the consumer protection act 1987 and could lead to a fine or imprisonment. In any case, landlords have always had a duty of care under common law to ensure that rented property is kept in a safe condition and it is therefore essential to examine the property and its contents closely before letting.
Energy Performance Certificates (EPC’s) and Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES)
From October 1st 2008 landlords are required to make an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) available to prospective tenants as part of the lettings process. The EPC, which is valid for 10 years, will rate a property’s energy performance and make recommendations about how to improve the energy efficiency of the property. The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is broadly similar to the labels now provided with domestic appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines.
Its purpose is to record how energy efficient a property is as a building. The certificate will provide a rating of the energy efficiency and carbon emissions of a building from A to G, where A is very efficient and G is very inefficient.
Under Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES), for a property to be rented it must have a minimum rating of 'E'.
EPCs are produced using standard methods with standard assumptions about energy usage so that the energy efficiency of one building can easily be compared with another building of the same type. This allows prospective buyers, tenants, owners, occupiers and purchasers to see information on the energy efficiency and carbon emissions from their building so they can consider energy efficiency and fuel costs as part of their investment. The tenant is required to receive a copy of the report before entering into a tenancy agreement. The energy performance rating must be included in any particulars and we upload the full EPC to websites marketing the property.
Gas Safety Regulations for Landlords & Agents
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998
From 31st October 1994 it became law for gas equipment in rented properties to be serviced and safety checked before the tenancy and then annually by a registered installer-and for landlords or their agents to keep accurate records of work carried out on all appliances in their control, confirmed by an official safety certificate. It is a legal requirement that we ensure that a Gas Safety Certificate is provided to the tenant annually.
This, of course, includes all gas appliances like cookers, fires and flues as well as boilers and British gas or Gas Safe registered plumbers should carry out this work. It is desirable to leave all gas appliances with service contracts in place.
The Control of Legionella bacteria in hot and cold water systems
Changes to the Health & Safety Executive Approved Code of Practice L8 (Fourth Edition)
Landlords have a legal duty to ensure that the risk of exposure to Legionella is properly assessed and controlled. The Health & Safety Executive website states:
“ ……who provide residential accommodation or who are responsible for the water system(s) in their premises, are responsible for ensuring that the risk of exposure to Legionella in those premises is properly assessed and controlled. All water systems require an assessment of the risk……”
The Approved Code of Practice makes clear that the only way to be sure you are complying with the law is to carry out a Risk Assessment and then follow any recommendations within it.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015
From 1 October 2015, the regulations require private sector landlords to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of the rental property which is used as living accommodation, and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room used as living accommodation where solid fuel is used.
Prior to the commencement of the tenancy, the alarms must be in working order. Where Chilterns manage the property, commission an inventory and carry out the check in the tenants will be asked to confirm that the alarms are in working order and sign the inventory appropriately.
Where we do not manage the property and the landlord is checking the tenant you must ensure the tenant(s) either sign the inventory or sign an alternative document, provided by you as the landlord, confirming they are in working order.
During the tenancy, it is the tenant’s responsibility to ensure that all alarms are in working order, by regularly testing each alarm. Batteries should be replaced when necessary. For hard wired alarms, there is still a backup battery may have to be replaced.
Chilterns also insist that Carbon Monoxide detectors are fitted where there is a gas or oil boiler/appliance.
Fire & Furnishing Regulation
Under the Furniture & Furnishings (Fire)(Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended) a landlord who is letting a property in the course of business is responsible for seeing that the furniture carries appropriate fire resistance labels. Bedding, carpets and curtains and furniture manufactured before 1950 falls outside the regulations.
The Electrical Equipment (safety) Regulations 1994
The Electrical Equipment (safety) Regulations 1994 states that all electrical appliances, both fixed and portable, in rented accommodation must be safe. The only sure method of checking this is to have them all tested and labelled periodically by a qualified electrician with the appropriate portable appliance testing equipment.
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 (ESS)
The ESS is set to come into force on 1st July 2020 and will apply to new tenancies from July 1st 2020 and to all existing tenancies from April 1st 2021. As currently drafted, the regulations will require private landlords to ensure that all electrical installations in their properties are inspected and tested by a qualified person before a new tenancy commences.
A new inspection is not required for each tenancy agreement, so long as they are still valid and no more than five years old.
Reports of each inspection should be supplied to all tenants before they move in and also to contractors performing the next inspection. During the tenancy, tenants should be given the latest report within 28 days of the inspection. Breaches of the regulations could result in financial penelties of upto £30,000. According to the draft legislation, 'electrical safety staandards' means the standards for electrical installations in the eighteenth edition of the Wiring Regulations published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the Britsh Standards Institution as BS 7671:2018(3).
Although in draft at the moment it is difficult to imagine that the government would intend to change the IET Wiring Regulations (BS 7671) 2019,the legal detail is to be found in the final legislation.
Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRAS)
The Housing Health & Safety Rating System was introduced under the 2004 Housing act. It is a risk based evaluation tool, designed to identify potential hazards to health and safety from any deficiencies identified in dwellings. Common breaches of this legislation include lack of extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens, trip hazards such as uneven patio slabs and recently fitted carpets, Legionella, or staircases without handrails.
Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
This came into effect in October 2006 and it applies to the common parts of blocks of flats and Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). It is a mandatory requirement that a detailed fire risk assessment be carried out to identify any risks or hazards and any such findings should be eliminated or reduced.
Repairs and Maintenance
It is the tenant’s responsibility to promptly report any repairs or maintenance that may be required to the managing agent or the landlord. If the landlord manages the property, the tenant must contact the landlord directly. In this instance landlords will need to provide their contact details to the tenants at the start of the Tenancy.
Where Chilterns manage the property during the tenancy all repairs and maintenance issues raised by the tenant can be reported to Chilterns through a 24 hour on-line Tenant Repair Reporting System - https://chilterns.fixflo.com/
This is available through Smartphone, Tablet, and computer without download.
The Tenant Fees Act 2019
Through this Act, the Governments aim was to make renting fairer and more affordable for tenants by reducing the cost at the outset of the tenancy. This Act also aims to improve transparency and competition in the Private Rental Market. The Act implements the commitment to ban letting fees paid by tenants in England and includes other measures to improve fairness, competition and affordability in the lettings sector.
This Act seeks to ‘achieve’ the above by banning landlords and their agents from requiring tenants and licencees of privately rented housing in England and persons acting on their behalf or guaranteeing their rent (together referred to as “relevant persons”), to make any payments in connection with a tenancy, known as “Prohibited Payments”. This include: -
- Application Fees
- Tenancy Set Up Fees
- Referencing of tenants and referencing for future landlords
- Contract Negotiations
- Inventory/Check in/out fees
Landlords and agents cannot charge a higher rent in any one period compared to any other period in the tenancy. Also costs cannot be covered by charging a high rent for the first month or any other month.
A landlord or agent is able to take a Holding Deposit from a tenant to reserve a property whilst reference checks and preparation for a tenancy agreement are undertaken, but this must be limited to no more than one weeks rent and assuming the application is successful must be (with the tenants written consent) repaid to the tenant either by allowing the tenant to deduct the equivalent sum from the first rent payment or from the tenancy deposit. There are circumstances where the agent can withhold the Holding Deposit, including: -
- Failing the Right to Rent Checks
- Providing false or misleading information that is likely to effect the landlords decision when considering a tenancy
- Notifying the Landlord or Agent before the deadline for agreement that they have decided not to enter into a tenancy agreement.
- Failure to take all reasonable steps to enter into a tenancy agreement.
The landlord or letting agent must adhere to strict time limits in respect of repayment of Holding Fees.
Under the Tenant Fees Ban, all new tenancies signed on or after 1st June 2019, will have a capped tenancy deposit of no more than five weeks’ rent where the annual rent is less than £50,000 or six weeks where the annual rent exceeds £50,000.
For further information about the Tenant Fees Act or any other legislative questions please contact the Chilterns Property Management team on 01842 813466.