The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 9GSIUR), in particular Regulation 36, place two main duties on Landlords to ensure that relevant gas Appliances, chimneys and installation Pipework are maintained in a safe Condition and that an annual gas check Is carried out on the gas appliances and their flues in rented residential Accommodation owned by the landlord.
It should be emphasised that this is a gas safety “record” and not a “certificate” – as many gas engineers, landlords and letting agents incorrectly refer to it. It is a record of the observations and operational test results that were found on the day on which the engineer makes a decision on whether or not the installation /appliance are safe. The results are recorded accordingly.
In addition, any defects found are treated separately and dealt with in accordance with the current Gas Industry Unsafe Situations Procedure and the relevant paperwork (ie warning notice and labels applied to the appliance) is issued to all relevant parties, including the gas user/responsible person and the landlord or letting agent where applicable. This along with documentation relating to any subsequently resulting remedial work, also forms part of the overall record of that property for the forthcoming period.
LANDLORDS SHOULD ENSURE THAT:
- All gas work is carried out by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer
- All safety checks take place within 12 months of the previous check, or in the case of new gas appliances, within 12 months of being installed, whichever is later.
- Records of each safety check are retained for 2 years.
- The tenant receives a copy of the gas safety record within 28 days of the check being completed.
- Any new tenant receives a copy of the gas safety record before they take up residence.
Smoke Detectors & Carbon Monoxide Alarms
From 1st October 2015 it is be a legal requirement for Landlords to install carbon monoxide detectors in high risk rooms in their properties, such as those where gas cookers and hobs, wood burning stoves and open gas fires are situated.
Those who fail to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms would face sanctions and could face up to a £5,000 civil penalty.
In addition, from 1st October 2015 the law requires landlords to install smoke alarms on every floor of their property, and test them at the start of every tenancy. Mains powered alarms are preferred as the failure rate is much lower than a battery powered alarm.
We will require all properties to be compliant prior to the start of a new tenancy.
The Government has announced funding for free smoke and carbon monoxide alarms from fire and rescue authorities to give to private sector landlords whose properties currently do not have alarms. Should you wish to benefit from this scheme, we would suggest that you contact your local fire station for schemes running in your area. Of course, the alarms would still need to be fitted thereafter.
The legislation for electrical safety is less explicit than that of gas safety and currently, there is no equivalent for inspection standards comparable to the Gas Safe Register. Landlords and Agents however, do have a statutory duty to ensure that all electrical wiring and equipment present in a rental property is safe for use and maintained adequately. The two main Acts of Parliament which impose this are:
- The Consumer Protection Act 1987
- The Landlord & Tenant Act 1985
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 strongly recommend that regular periodic inspections are carried out – one prior to letting and then every five years thereafter. This inspection would highlight any areas in need of upgrading and should ensure electrical safety.
Furniture and Furnishings
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended in 1993)
All upholstery and upholstered furnishings, eg sofas, armchairs, mattresses, pillows, supplied as part of the tenancy must comply with current fire resistance standards. Items such as carpets, curtains and bedding are not included and any furniture manufactured prior to 1950 will be exempt providing that they have not been re-upholstered with an illegal filling. Such furnishings must carry the appropriate permanent labels to show that they comply. Any furnishings which do not comply with the regulations must be removed prior to the commencement of the tenancy.
Legionnaires Disease is a pneumonia like illness caused by the Legionella bacteria and can be fatal. The infection is caused by breathing in small droplets of water contaminated by the bacteria. The disease cannot be passed from one person to another.
Legionella bacteria are found in the natural environment and may contaminate and grow in water systems, including domestic hot and cold water systems. They survive low temperatures and thrive at temperatures between 20 - 45°C if the conditions are right. They are killed by high temperatures at 60°C or above.
Landlords have a duty to ensure the safety of their tenants and protect them from health hazards and ensure that Legionella is properly assessed and controlled.
Normally there is no reason why the landlord should not carry out this risk assessment himself/herself so long as they are competent. However, for those not able to do this, we employ the services of a specialist company and can instruct them to carry out an inspection. These need to be carried out as routine, every 2 years as part of a safety strategy and due diligence policy. The cost of each survey and report is £50.00 and our contractor is not registered for VAT. (£25.00 per annum)
For most residential settings the risk assessment may well show the risks are low so long as simple control measures referred to in the next section are followed. This will apply to houses or flats with small domestic type water systems where the water turnover is high. Provided the risk assessment shows that the risks are insignificant and the control measures are being properly managed no further action would be necessary. It is important, however, to keep the assessment under review periodically in case anything changes to the system.
Simple control measures will help manage the risk from Legionella and these should be maintained including:
- flushing out the water system by running all outlets for at least 2 minutes where the premises have not been used e.g. before letting the property or if the property has stood empty for a time
- avoiding debris getting into the system (e.g. making sure cold water tanks, if installed, have a tight fitting lid)
- the removal of any redundant pipe work
- advising tenants to regularly clean, descale and disinfect shower heads
Landlords are entitled to expect the tenants will play their part in ensuring control measures are maintained and The Carrington Partnership would:
- inform tenants of potential risk of exposure to Legionella and its consequences
- tell tenants of any action which arises from the landlords risk assessment if appropriate
- tell tenants to inform the landlord if the hot water system is not heating properly or if there are any other problems with the system
- tell the landlord if the cold water system is not running cold
- tell tenants to keep the water turned over
A copy of each prepared report is given to the tenants on occupation and this provides valuable advice and guidelines to follow.
The risk from Legionella may increase if the property is unoccupied even for a short period. It is important that water is not left to stand in the hot or cold water systems. As a general rule, all outlets on hot and cold water systems should be used at least once a week for at least 2 minutes to maintain a degree of water flow and minimise the chances of stagnation. For long periods consider draining the system. Make sure that the system is flushed through when it is re-occupied by running all outlets for at least 2 minutes.
What happens if the landlord does not carry out his/her obligations?
The consequences can be serious. Landlords / Agents are legally required to manage properties so as not to expose tenants, residents and visitors to risk. Heavy fines or even imprisonment can be imposed especially if someone were to unfortunately die. Landlords/Agents can be prosecuted even if there is an exposure to risk without anyone actually becoming ill.