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Property Safety

Gas

Ensure all gas appliances are safe, serviced and in accordance with the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1994. Any Corgi registered plumber or gas fitter will advise on further steps required to make your property safe. This is a mandatory requirement and the certificate must be renewed annually.

Carbon Monoxide detectors are also a valuable investment and provide additional reassurances to tenants that their landlord is responsible and careful to offer their property in the best possible condition.  From October 2013 any new fixed gas appliance (not soley used for cooking) will require a CO detector to be fitted - either battery operated or hard wired, but hard wired is best practice.

Electrical

Landlords are obligated to ensure that all electrical appliances and fittings within the property are safe and in good working order. Failure to comply with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, the Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994, both of which come under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 is a criminal offence. Landlords are advised that to show they have taken all reasonable steps to ensure compliance, best practice is to carry out an annual Portable Electrical Appliances Safety Test (PAT) on all moveable appliances and a regular check of electrical wiring circuits and mains board (EICR).

It is recommended that EICRs are carried out every 5 years, or for a change of Tenant. HMO properties have a requirement for more frequent checks.   Please be aware that all C1 and C2 faults reported on the EICR will need further action to remedy. 

Under new technical guidance governing the Repairing Standard, it will become mandatory for Landlords to have an EICR and PAT certificates from the following dates -

  • 1st December 2015 - for any new tenancies entered into on or after this date (this includes current Tenants signing a new lease)
  • 1st December 2016 - for all existing tenancies

Fire Safety

Ensure all furniture and furnishings comply with Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations 1988 regulations i.e. settees, armchairs, mattresses and any other upholstered items should carry a label displaying a match and lighted cigarette symbol or reference to the 1988 regulations. Further guidance can be found at www.bis.gov.uk/files/file24685.pdf

It is recommend that Fire Blankets are supplied.

Smoke Alarms

When the Repairing Standard was introduced (3 September 2007) the building standards regulations required that there should be one or more than one functioning  smoke alarm installed in the house, the number and position of alarms to be determined by the size and layout of the house.  There was normally to be at least one smoke alarm on each floor.  If there were multiple alarms, they should be interlinked.  A smoke alarm installed from 3 September 2007 onwards had to be mains powered with a standby power supply.  Note that the manufacturer’s recommended life span of a fire alarm is usually 5-10 years and all battery-powered fire alarms in private rented houses should hardwired when they are replaced.

Landlords should note that building standards were amended from 1 October 2010, and revised technical guidance has been issued by Building Standards Division (Technical Handbooks 2013: – Domestic – Fire, http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Built-Environment/Building/Building-standards/publications/pubtech/th2013dom2). 

The revised Domestic Technical Handbook guidance states there should be at least:

  • one functioning smoke alarm in the room which is frequently used by the occupants for general daytime living purposes,
  • one functioning smoke alarm in every circulation space, such as hallways and landings,
  • one heat alarm in every kitchen, and
  • all alarms should be interlinked.

Security

You should ensure there are adequate locks on doors and windows (consult your insurance company for further guidance relating to your particular property).  Burglar alarms are not essential but worth thinking about particularly if you plan to leave your property furnished.

Legionella

In November 2013, the Health & Safety Executive updated their approved code of practice - 'Legionnaires Disease: The Control of Legionella Bacteria in Water Systems', being the fourth edition of the guidance, originally released in 1991.  The updated code now states that landlords must take suitable precautions to prevent or control the risk of exposure to legionella. 

Legionnaires Disease is a potentially fatal lung infection caused by inhaling legionella bacteria, bacteria which can exist in any man-made water system, taps, pipe work and shower heads (amongst others). 

The general public usually associate legionella with larger water systems (e.g. in factories, hotels, hospitals and museums, and cooling towers).  It can however also live in smaller water supply systems used in homes and other residential accommodation. 

As a result Landlords are required to:

  • Carry out a risk assessment which will help establish any potential risk; and
  • Implement measures to either eliminate or control risks.
  • To identify the risks in the water system a competent person who understands the property's water system and any associated equipment should establish any possible exposure to legionella risks, as part of a risk assessment.

Some of the issues to be considered when carry out the risk assessment include:

  • Where water is stored between 20C and 45C;
  • Where there is stagnant water in any area of the system;
  • Where there is rust, sludge, scale or organic matter in the water system;
  • Where there are any outlets which are not frequently used (eg. showers and taps in guest bedrooms); and
  • Where the tenant is particularly at risk due to age, illness or weakened immunity.

If it is discovered that the risks are insignificant and are being properly managed to comply with the law, the assessment is complete and the Landlord will not need to take any further action.  However, it is important for the Landlord to record the assessment and review the assessment periodically in case anything changes in their water and sewage system. 

www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/legionella-landlords-responsibilities.htm

The Legionella Risk Assessment is the Landlords responsibility and Margaret Duffus Leasing do not arrange this as part of their full management service.


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