Legislation and Safety

As members of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), we adhere to a strict code of practice and ensure we are kept fully informed of current legislation

In respect of safety, we ensure that all current legislation is complied with and will fully advise you on the requirements. We will be happy to undertake the organisation of the inspections on your behalf

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998

It is a criminal offence to let a property with gas appliances, installation and pipe-work that have not been checked by a GAS SAFE registered engineer. The certificate issued lasts for twelve months and must be renewed annually whilst the property remains let.

Gas Safety Certificates are held on file and a copy is provided to the tenants prior to occupation.

Equally those properties with Oil or Solid Fuel heating must be regularly serviced to ensure their safety.

Update to Carbon Monoxide Legislation

In December 2010 the Health and Safety Executive released a Safety Notice to raise awareness of the potential dangers from certain types of flues connected to gas-fired central heating installations in some properties. Landlords were obliged to take action before the 31 December 2012.

Where boilers are located away from external walls, flues are more likely to run through ceiling (or wall) voids. In such cases when the gas appliance is serviced or maintained it can be difficult, if not impossible, to determine whether the flue has been installed correctly or whether it is still in good condition.

Unless the gas engineer can make these checks they cannot ensure that the flue from the boiler is safe in order to comply with their legal duties. The engineer therefore will only be able to comply with his legal obligation if appropriate inspection hatches have been installed. Landlords are advised that after 31 December 2012 if the hatches have not been installed the gas engineer will not carry out the inspection.

If the flue is not inspected and a fault overlooked, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide (CO) could be released into the living accommodation. CO is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas produced by incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels. It stops the blood from bringing oxygen to cells, tissues and organs and can kill quickly, without warning.

Electrical Safety, Rental Property and The Law

Whilst the legislation for electrical safety is less explicit than that of gas safety and there is no Gas Safe equivalent for inspection standards, it is nevertheless a statutory duty for landlords and agents to ensure that all electrical wiring and equipment present in a rental property is safe for use and maintained adequately.

Mains Installation and Fixed Wiring

The two main Acts of Parliament that impose a statutory duty on landlords with respect to safety, including electrics are:

The Consumer Protection Act 1987

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (section 11)

The only way a landlord can check that the electrical installation (the fixed wiring) in the property is safe is by having a Periodic Inspection and Report (PIR) carried out. This report identifies any deficiencies against the safety standard for electrical installations. Any areas that require attention will be detailed in the report, together with a recommendation of remedial works required, if any, in order of priority. It is considered best practice to have a PIR carried out when a property is first prepared for letting and every five years thereafter.

Portable Appliances

There are also several items of secondary legislation under the umbrella of the Consumer Protection Act which are directly relevant to the supply of electrical goods, including:

The Low Voltage Electrical Equipment Regulations 1989

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994

The General Product (Safety) Regulations 1994

The Plugs and Sockets (Safety) Regulations 1994

We are happy to undertake the organisation of the inspections on behalf of our landlords.

The PIR and PAT is held on our records and a copy provided to the tenant prior to occupation

The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988

All upholstery and upholstered furnishings supplied as part of a tenancy must comply with current fire resistance standards. It is a criminal offence, punishable by a fine and/or a prison term, to let premises with furniture or soft furnishings which cannot be proven to comply with the above fire safety regulations. The regulations apply to the following which must be match resistant, cigarette resistant and carry a permanent label:

All upholstered furniture, three piece suites, Beds and divans including the upholstered bases, Padded headboards, Sofa-beds, Furniture with loose or fitted covers, Children’s furniture, Cots and other items used by a baby or small child, Cushions, High Chairs, Mattresses of any size, Pillows, Garden Furniture which may be used indoors

Items such as carpets and curtains are not included. Any furniture manufactured prior to 1950 will be exempt, provided that they have not been re-upholstered with an illegal filling. All furnishings must carry the appropriate permanent labels to show that they comply. Any furnishings that do not comply with the regulations must be removed prior to the start of the tenancy.

Smoke Detectors

Properties built after June 1992 must have mains interlinked smoke detectors on each floor. A let property must have a least one fully operational battery operated detector on each floor as a minimum requirement.

Insurance

Landlords

Landlords must have buildings and contents insurance for their rental property and should be careful to choose an insurance policy that is designed specifically for their needs and obligations.

Tenants

Tenants must have insurance which covers accidental damage to the landlords property and personal liability cover should their negligence cause damage. This will help to protect a tenant’s deposit in the event of an insured incident. This cover is typically available under a contents policy. Under the terms of the tenancy agreement tenants are required to have suitable insurance cover for accidental damage that may occur to landlords contents, fixtures and fittings in place for the duration of the tenancy.

Immigration Act 2014

The Immigration Act 2014 imposes an obligation on the landlord to check the passport or other identity documents, with the applicant present, and to check that any person who requires a visa or work permit holds the valid authorisation and is complying with its terms. We will check this information at the start of the tenancy.

Consent to Let

Approval to let a property is often a requirement of a mortgage. The landlord must provide us with any conditions of the lender prior to the Tenancy Agreement being drawn up. Conditions cannot be added at a later date.

Asbestos

The landlord must notify the agent in writing if asbestos is present in the property, even if it is in sound repair. The landlord has responsibility for the safety of the tenant and duty of care to all persons visiting the property, including contractors.

Legionnaires’ Disease

In order to comply with the Health and Safety Executive’s Guidance there is a legal duty for landlords to assess and control the risk of exposure to legionella bacteria. A landlord must consider all risks and carry out a risk assessment at the premises prior to letting especially if there are open water tanks, cooling systems, hot tub, pond or swimming pool.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

Under the Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) (England and Wales) Order 2007 from 1 October 2008 it is a legal requirement to provide any prospective applicant for a Tenancy of the Landlord ’s Property with an Energy Performance Certificate carried out by a qualified Domestic Energy Assessor. Failure to supply one is a criminal offence punishable by a fine.

Electrical Installation Condition Report

The electrical safety standards for the private rented sector in England came into force on 1 June 2020 and applies to all new tenancies from 1 July 2020 and all existing tenancies from 1 April 2021. The regulation sets out new rules for landlords to ensure all fixed electrical installations are safe and maintained correctly. Under the regulations, every fixed electrical installation at the property must be inspected and tested at least every five years by a qualified electrician.

Internal Blinds and European Safety Standards

New European Regulations now apply to the installations for raising and lowering blinds and the movement of curtains across windows. This means that new blinds and curtains being installed by a contractor will have fixed cords or ball bearing pulls to prevent any danger of asphyxiation to a young child; and a warning notice with the purchasing material. Existing blinds and windows may need to be fitted with safety features to ensure compliance to ensure safety.

Taxation

The landlord will be liable for tax on income arising from letting the property and must inform Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) that the property is being let. The following points should be noted:

General: Many costs incurred by the landlord can be off-set against income tax including the commission of the letting agent and other expenses. It is in the landlord’s best interest to seek qualified advice from a tax adviser, or an accountant. Further information is also obtainable from the website of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on www.hmrc.gov.uk It is the legal duty of all landlords to ask HMRC for a Tax Return including the relevant schedules for residential lettings.

Landlords overseas: From 6 April 1996 letting agents, (or the tenant where there is no rent collection agent), acting for a non-resident landlord must deduct tax from the landlord’s UK rental income and pay the tax to HMRC. This must be done for each quarter in the tax year i.e. 30 June, 30 September, 31 December and 31 March. Letting agents and tenants do not have to deduct tax from the rental income of a non-resident landlord if HMRC has written to approve the landlord receiving the rental income without deduction of tax. Non-resident landlords can apply to HMRC for approval to receive their UK rental income with no tax deducted or complete the forms on the website above which can be found by going to the HMRC link: www.gov.uk./tax-uk-income-live-abroad/rent.

Approval from HMRC does not exempt the landlord from paying tax on rental income. It merely allows the landlord to receive his income gross and complete a tax return detailing all the income from rent together with the relevant expenses in due course.