Landlords are required to provide tenants with both a gas safety certificate and an energy performance certificate. They are also required to ensure than any soft furnishings they supply with the property have appropriate fire safety labels.
These duties to protect tenants’ safety are in addition to the more general ones that landlords have under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, andCommon Law.
On moving in, every tenant must be provided with a gas safety certificate.
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 require landlords to ensure gas fittings and flues are maintained in a safe condition and to have an annual safety check of appliances and flues carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer (information about the Gas safe Register, which replaced the Corgi Register in April 2009, can be found at www.gassaferegister.co.uk).
Landlords must retain a record of each safety check for at least two years; and provide a copy of the latest safety check record to existing tenants within 28 days of the check being completed, or to any new tenant before they move in.
Furniture and furnishings must comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations. These require that rental accommodation let since 1 January 1997 must contain only furniture and furnishings that meet fire resistance standards as evidenced by a fire resistance label – look for labels headed ‘Carelessness Causes Fire’.
Although there is currently no requirement in law for electrical installations and equipment to be inspected annually and certified as safe, the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 nevertheless require that electrical appliances supplied by landlords are safe to use at the start of each let.
Some voluntary landlord accreditation schemes do require inspections and NICEIC, the electrical contracting industry’s independent voluntary body, advises landlords to have their properties inspected and tested by a competent person on change of occupancy, or at least every 10 years – more often for higher risk properties.
Appliances, cables, extension leads and electrical plugs should be inspected at the start of each tenancy for signs of wear and damage that could make them unsafe. Where there is reason to suspect that equipment is faulty, it should be tested.
Landlords offering self-contained property for rent are required by law to provide prospective tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). These must be provided free either when (or before) any written information about the property is provided to prospective tenants or a viewing is conducted. They do not have to be provided if the landlord believes the prospective tenant is unlikely to have sufficient funds to rent the property or is not genuinely interested in renting, or the landlord is unlikely to be prepared to rent the property to the prospective tenant.
Certificates can only be issued by accredited domestic energy assessors or certified home inspectors. Once a property has been given an EPC, it gets a unique number and is registered on a national database by the assessor. Landlords can download extra copies from the Energy Performance Certificate and Home Condition Report Registers website (www.hcrregister.com) using the report reference number.
A new certificate does not have to be obtained for each let since in the case of rental property, EPCs are valid for 10 years.