Landlords have number of serious responsibilities regarding the safety of the property they are renting out to their tenants.
All furniture and furnishing need to meet strict criteria laid out in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations1988 (amended 1989, 1993 and 2010). Under these regulations all upholstered items, including beds and sofas, must have fire resistant filling and have passed a match resistance test. Cover fabrics and filling materials must also have passed a cigarette resistance test. Most items should have a compliance code on them or proof they have been fire-safety tested. As a general rule items bought before 1988 may need to be replaced. The regulations apply to pillows, beds, sofas, armchairs and nursery furniture but not antique furniture or furniture made before 1950, duvets, curtains and carpets. Other fire safety regulations for landlords to adhere to include The Housing Act 2004, which lays down rules to ensure tenants can easily escape in the case of fire. Meanwhile, the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 explains the requirements for landlords in England to ensure warning systems are in place in case of fire. Separate legislation applies in the other UK countries.
Landlords are also required to ensure that any gas boilers and other equipment are serviced once a year. Records must be kept of the condition of the equipment and gas safety checks. A landlord is also legally required to provide a tenant with an annual gas safety certificate. The service must by carried out by a contractor registered with Gas Safe, previously known as the Council for the Registration of Gas Installers (CORGI). The relevant law is The Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998.
The electrical wiring in the home must also be safe and in good working order and smoke alarms need to be fitted and work properly. Wiring that is more than 15 years old needs to be inspected annually. To assess electrical safety a landlord must ensure they use an electrician who is approved through the Part 'P' Competent Person Scheme. The relevant law regarding electrical safety for landlords is The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994.
A landlord is committing an offence under the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) if they refuse to let a property because a person is disabled. It is also an offence to impose higher rental or deposit charges based on disability. Landlords are not obliged to alter a property to accommodate a person with a disability under the Disability Discrimination Act (1995), but they must not prevent a disabled tenant making reasonably alterations to improve access.
Under section 12 of the Equality Act 2010 it is illegal to refuse to rent a property based on race.
In November 2017 Kent landlord Fergus Wilson was taken to court by the Equality and Human Rights Commission after asking his letting agent not to rent his properties to Indian and Pakistani tenants. The court found this breached the Act and told Mr Wilson he would be fined if he carried on with this illegal policy.
Energy Performance Certificates
Since 1st October 2008, Landlords have been legally required to provide copies of an Energy Performance Certificate to potential tenants. An Energy Performance Certificate tells a landlord and prospective tenants how energy efficient a rental property is on a scale of A-G, with A being the most efficient. The EPC certificate also indicates, on a scale of A-G, about the impact the property has on the environment. Better-rated properties to let should have less impact through carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The EPC will make recommendations about how a property's energy efficiency can be improved. An EPC is valid for 10 years and must be obtained from a qualified Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA) who is a member of an accreditation scheme approved by the Government. If landlords fail to obtain an EPC before they market a rental property they may be liable for a fine and must withdraw the property from market until they have obtained one. Landlords are not required to obtain a new certificate each time they re-let a property. Get a Quote for an EPC.