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If You’re a Landlord Make Sure You’re Doing it Right!

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Some may believe that being a private Landlord is simply a matter of collecting rent. This couldn’t be further from the truth. As a private landlord, laws in England and Wales are fairly onerous and you ignore them at your peril.

As Landlord of a private dwelling, you inherit several statutory responsibilities revolving around the need to secure your tenant’s safety. These responsibilities involve everything from a basic risk assessment of the property to make sure it is free of obvious hazards (e.g. checking the water supplies are not susceptible to legionnaire’s disease) right the way through to professional checks of electrical and gas appliances and ventilation. Fire safety is also a priority.

Building Regulations may not apply directly, but such regulations may be accepted standards by which compliance with legal obligations is judged. For example, a particular item such as earthing may not comply with the current IET requirements but it will not necessarily be “unsafe” or not in working order as a result. Something that you as a Landlord must ensure.

In more general terms, Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 imposes an obligation on Landlords of short term residential lettings to keep electrical installations in repair and proper working order. A landlord may also be liable for the injury of a tenant or resident caused by defective wiring under the Defective Premises Act 1972.

Under codes derived from various European Directives, electrical items must now be CE kite marked and it would serve a Landlord well if he made sure any such electrical items applied and were periodically checked. Indeed, under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 there is a requirement for portable electrical appliances to be PAT tested. This would apply to employee accommodation for example.

As landlord, you must ensure that the property is inspected annually by a qualified, Gas Safe Registered engineer. The inspection usually costs about £80 – 100 and you must provide a copy of the certificate to your tenant. If a new tenant is moving in a copy of the certificate must be provided within 28 days of them taking occupancy. Failure to comply is a criminal offence.The check will include inspection and testing of gas appliances and gas fired central heating boilers and flues. If you have a gas appliance the ventilation system will be inspected and any unsatisfactory appliances or ventilation must be rectified.

A good landlord should supply smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms on every floor in addition to the annual gas inspection and ensure that they are checked regularly. In properties on more than one floor or in multiple occupation, further specific requirements apply.

In addition to these requirements, properties that are offered to let must now meet basic requirements in respect of Energy Performance with less efficient properties considered unsuitable for letting.

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