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Thinking about becoming a Landlord? You need to know the rules!

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Safety tips for new
landlords to keep your tenants safe, and you on the right side of the Law

If you’re considering
taking the leap by offering a home to rent, then you’re going to need to know
the rules of how to present and maintain a safe home for your tenants.
There
are certain obligations which you must meet, and you will need the appropriate
certificates too, so I’ve written this blog to help you to know and understand
the steps you’re going to need to take.

 In my view, there’s nothing too onerous here
and all the legislation is designed to keep your tenants safe, and you able to
get a good night’s kip at night without worrying about them hurting themselves
in your house- so it’s a win-win situation.

The best first step I
always think is to put yourself into role as the most miserable doom merchant
you know.
Yes- that person who always sees the worst possible scenario of
any situation- everyone knows one of these people; either at work, or perhaps
you’re even married to one.

Yes, put on that yellow health and safety helmet and go
around your property with a view to working out what could possibly be a danger
to anyone living there. In other words-
risk assess your property.

You’re looking for
trip hazards, fire hazards, and electrical hazards- the works
.

In other words, ask yourself the question: What could possibly go wrong in this room?

Now, you may find your imagination runs riot, or you may well spot some things you didn’t notice before: rickety plug sockets, windows which don’t open properly, or gas fires which date back to a former age.

Next it’s time to get the experts in and yes, part with some money, and get some certificates to prove that you have done so.

In a nutshell, you are looking at: gas safety, electrical safety, fire safety and energy efficiency.

Let’s look at each
one of the rules in detail:

Electrical Services,
Inspections and Testing for Landlords

It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the electrical installation and appliances are in proper working order throughout a tenancy and are safe when any new tenancy begins.

electrical safety certificate
You're going to need an electrical safety certificate

Where to start? Our
tip: get an EICR report done: an Electrical installation Condition Report
.

In our view, this is an extremely important document, as the
qualified electrician will check the whole electrical system in your property
and tell you whether there are any recommendations to ensure that you’re
providing a safe home, or one which may present any dangers.

Our tip to landlords:
don’t wing it- fix it!

The very last thing
you want to happen is that your tenant is hurt by dodgy electrics in your
property
which you knew could present a danger: your insurance could be
invalidated and local authorities can take action to enforce electrical safety
in residential accommodation under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System
(HHSRS).

Remember, the rules are that you are providing your tenants with a safe home.

Are you offering
electrical appliances within your letting property?

Portable Electrical
Appliance (PAT) Testing

Although PAT testing
is left to the landlord’s discretion,
the Electrical Safety Council’s
Guidance recommends portable appliance testing to satisfy the obligation to
ensure that any portable electrical appliances which the landlord provides
under the tenancy are safe at the point of letting, and at periodic intervals
after that.

Our tip: don’t take any risks with your tenants’ safety- have a good visual inspection over these items at the beginning and end of each tenancy to check for any signs of loose wiring or scorching, and if you are in any doubt replace them.

Landlords are required by law to ensure that when tenants
move in the electrical installation in a rented property is safe and is and
maintained throughout the tenancy.

Complicated? Not really-
here are the recommendations from the Electrical Safety Council:

  • Portable electricals: toasters, kettles,
    microwaves, TVs  PAT checked every two
    years
  •  not
    portable: fridges, washing machines, electric fires: PAT checked every four
    years
  • Switches, wiring light fitting and sockets: checked
    for safety every five years.

Gas safety

The rules are that you are going to need a Landlord’s Gas Safety Certificate done annually if you have gas appliances in your property to let.

Landlords gas safety certificate

Our tips: get your gas appliances serviced at the same time- yes, it will cost more money, but is definitely preferable to getting an anguished phone call from your tenants to say that the boiler has broken down. And-

  • It’s Friday teatime
  • There’s snow on the ground
  • They’ve just brought home their new born from hospital
  • It’s Christmas.

 

Yes- it happens! So get the certificate done, and the servicing, and print out a copy of the certificate for your tenants, because they need to be given it, by law.

Make sure your plumber has the Gas Safe badge

Our tips: put the date of the certificate into your phone or computer’s calendar for a year hence, so that you definitely won’t forget to renew it: that’s what we do; and it works!

Fire safety

Think:  If there was a fire anywhere in this property, what would I do- where would I try to escape from, and how easy would it be for me to get out?

The rules are that you need a smoke alarm on each floor of your letting property, and in  any rooms which have usable wood burners or fire places.

We would advise mains wired smoke detectors

 Our tip: get it wired into the mains electrics, because remembering to change the batteries is challenging- both for you as the landlord and your tenants.

Carbon monoxide alarms

You're going to need to install these in any rooms where there is a solid fuel burning appliance, such as a coal fire or wood burning burning stove.

Remember that it is a legal requirement on the part of the landlord to check that all alarms are working on the day that your tenants move in.

After that, it's their responsibility to check them, but remember, it's your property, so you may wish to put a reminder into your phone to check the alarms regularly.

Make sure that the keys are there for any windows, and that there is an unobstructed route to any fire escapes.

 

Our tip: hang those keys on a little hook near the window- not where they’re likely to get knocked off by the curtains- and record a reminder to check where they are at the beginning and end of each tenancy on the inventory, to ensure that they don’t wander off, as they can be a pain to try to replace.

 

Fire safety and H.M.O.s

If you are considering offering your property as an HMO- House of Multiple Occupation- then the rules regarding fire safety regulations are far more complicated than I can cover here. You will need to research them thoroughly- start with the Carlisle County Council website.

 

Furnishings:

The rules are that they need to be fire safe- check their labels. Here we are taking about beds, sofas, curtains, cushions. Check that they are fire retardant.

 

Our tip: if you have any doubt- take that item out, as it’s just not worth taking the risk and worrying about it. It’s got the label? Take a photo, name the item, date it and keep it in your inventory file- then you know for certain that you are working within the law.

 

I hope that this post has been helpful to you if you are considering letting out a property for the first time, or even to jog your memory, or keep you updated if you have been letting out your property for a while.

 

Further Advice for Landlords

You can find further advice on the topic of being a safe and responsible landlord by reading this article by Annabel Dixon, from the Zoopla site:

9 Top Tips for Landlords

 

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