What are a landlord’s health and safety obligations?
In tenancy agreements there are certain responsibilities that landlords cannot escape from. The law implies a set of terms into each tenancy agreement through the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, which mandates that the landlord has to take care of the structure and exterior of the dwelling-house; the installations in the dwelling-house for the supply of water, gas and electricity,sanitation and the installations in the dwelling-house for space heating and heating water. Moreover, the law of negligence places a duty of care on the landlord to take reasonable care to prevent foreseeable harm done to others in any way related to the premises. We can go through the main areas that landlords should be on the lookout for.
What are a landlord’s formal Health and Safety obligations?
Firstly, there are a couple of formal safety standards which landlords have to meet. Gas safety regulations state that landlords must arrange an inspection of the complete installation – supply pipework and fittings and all appliances – a minimum of once every year. The inspection has to be carried out by a qualified gas engineer, and a gas safety certificate needs to be issued after every check. Tenants need to be able to see a copy of the certificate.
Recent electrical safety regulations also place a duty on landlords to undertake various safety checks. The electrical system must be checked every five years by landlords to check for overloaded installations, shock risks, fire hazards, defective work or incomplete earthing. Individual sockets and light fittings have to be checked, as well as appliances such as kettles or cookers.
Various duties also exist for fire safety, such as providing a smoke alarm on each storey of the property, fitting carbon monoxide detectors, providing escape routes, and installing or maintaining fire resistant furniture.
Landlords also have to obtain an energy performance certificate before letting out their property, and as of 2018 all properties must have an energy rating of at least E.
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Landlords and Legionnaires disease
Finally, it is worth being vigilant against Legionnaires disease, which is caused by infected vapour in central water systems. Some practical tips to minimise exposure to the bacteria is to flush out the system prior to letting the property, setting a high temperature for water to be stored, and prevent debris from getting into the water systems. There is no obligation to obtain a test for the bacteria, which can be ordered online, but it is useful to check your water tank for the avoidance of doubt.
What should a landlord be looking for during tenancy inspections?
There are common plagues which affect every rental property.
- Damp can be spotted in peeling wallpaper and dark patches on the walls. Floodboards can also become rotten and unstable due to dampness. If the property has a musty smell then there is likely mould or mildew around.
- Check the taps and plumbing for leaks, and check whether the gutters need to be cleared out.
- Pest infestations are also critical to find early because they are often difficult to tackle.
- If there is a foul smell in the property then there may be a blocked drain which needs fixing.
There are numerous health standards landlords should keep to for the avoidance of doubt.
- Ensure the tenant has access to proper basins, showers and baths to maintain personal hygiene.
- Check that drainage installations like lavatories and pipes are in good working order for the sake of sanitation.
- To maintain food safety, it is important to provide sinks, draining boards, work tops and cookers that are fit for purpose.
- Ventilation and central heating are also critical for the tenant’s comfort and livelihood.
From looking for the right tenant to making a property safe, creating a tenancy agreement is only one of several responsibilities of a landlord. Legislate is a contracting platform where you can create easy-to-understand and legally valid agreements on your own terms. You can read how to create your first Legislate agreements in our tutorial or watch a short demo. If you would like to try Legislate, please book an introductory call.
The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.