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Landlord legal responsibilities

The following guide outlines the regulations and responsibilities that you have as a landlord in order to stay compliant.

The law requires that all appliances are safe and strongly recommends that everything should be independently tested, on a regular basis, particularly at the point at which the property becomes available to let. We recommend only fully qualified contractors to carry out electrical and gas safety checks and will happily handle this on your behalf. Failure to comply with regulations can result in hefty fines and in some extreme cases, imprisonment.

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994 state that supplying unsafe appliances is an offence. In the event of an accident involving electricity the landlord must be able to demonstrate that the supply and appliances are safe. This can only be done if they have been independently tested.

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 state that all let and managed properties must be tested annually for safety. Only Gas Safe registered businesses with Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) qualified engineers are authorised to carry out work on gas appliances and piping.

Since 1st January 1997, all furniture provided in furnished rented accommodation – houses, flats, bedsits – must meet the fire resistance requirements of the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1998.

The regulations apply to any of the following upholstered items:

  • Beds, mattresses and headboards.
  • Sofa beds, futons and any other convertibles.
  • Loose and stretch covers for furniture.
  • Nursery furniture.
  • Scatter cushions, seat covers and pillows.

The regulations do not apply to:

  • Sleeping bags or loose covers for mattresses.
  • Bedclothes – including duvets and pillowcases.

We cannot let any property containing non-compliant furniture. All items must carry a permanent label as proof that items are compliant with the regulations. If you need help, your Reeds Rains consultant will be able to advise you.

We also recommend battery operated smoke alarms are installed. (Once installed, responsibility for replacing the battery passes to the tenant.)

All private residential property available for let is required to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). An EPC is a legal requirement for new lets and is valid for 10 years. From 1st April 2018, the property must have a minimum rating of E on its EPC. It will be unlawful to rent a property which breaches this requirement with a penalty of up to £4,000.

All tenants must be provided with a copy of the EPC at the start of the tenancy. Grants may be available to tenants in receipt of Local Housing Allowance for some of the improvements mentioned in the report.

Landlords are not under obligation to act on the EPC, but doing so may make your property more attractive to potential tenants. If you would like to instruct us on your EPC, simply call us on 01260 294 680 * and we will make the necessary arrangements.

More information is available in our EPC section, or on the Government’s EPC website –

Legionella is a potentially fatal illness like pneumonia which can be caught by inhaling bacteria generated by hot and cold water heating systems including storage tanks which are not functioning properly or have been stagnant for some time. The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and the control of Substances Hazardous to Health 1999 have recently changed and the Control of Legionella bacteria in Water Systems Approved Code of Practice (“ACOP L8”), now applies to domestic living. It is recommended that all landlords of residential rental properties have a Legionella Risk Assessment completed every two years to comply with the law.

Tenants over the age of 45, smokers or heavy drinkers, or those suffering from respiratory or kidney disease or immune system problems, might be considered particularly vulnerable.

We can introduce you to an expert who can assess your property for Legionella and provide you with a report.

Any property occupied by five or more people, forming two or more households, who also share facilities such as the kitchen or bathroom, regardless of the number of storeys is subject to the HMO licensing criteria. 

A household is either a single person or members of the same family who live together. A family includes people who are:

  • married or living together – including people in same sex relationships
  • relatives or half-relatives, for example: grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings
  • step parents and step children 

Minimum room size for sleeping

National minimum room sizes for sleeping are:

  • Minimum 4.64 square metres – one person under 10 years
  • Minimum 6.51 square metres – one person over 10 years
  • Minimum 10.22 square metres – two people over 10 years
  • Any room where the ceiling height is less than 1.5 metres cannot be used towards any minimum room size

Waste/Refuse disposal in accordance with the relevant local authority scheme

The HMO Licensing criteria is the requirement to comply with whatever the relevant local authority’s scheme is for the storage space provided for and / or the disposal of any domestic refuse.

Please be assured the local authority cannot apply any commercial refuse collection charging as waste collection is a service routinely available to any residential property.

The Right to Rent scheme, which helps to make sure that people renting property in the UK have a legal right to be here, was rolled out across England in February 2016.

This law means that landlords or their letting agents must carry out identity checks on every tenant before they sign a tenancy agreement. If we don’t currently handle tenant checks for you, we’d be very happy to discuss how we can help you with this.

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