Tenant safety is one of the most important aspects of property rental for both lettings agents and landlords. The gravity of failing to ensure the safety of tenants was highlighted last week when Waltham Forest council in London fined Just Move Estates, a lettings agent in Walthamstow, more than £10,000 for failing to install smoke alarms in a house they marketed.
The council issued the fine under the Housing and Planning Act after an investigation found there had never been alarms in the property, despite Just Move Estates initially insisting that previous tenants had removed three detectors.
Here is a reminder of what the law says about how lettings agents are held responsible for tenant safety.
Tenant Safety Requirements
There are a number of different pieces of legislation that dictate how lettings agents and landlords must take responsibility for tenant safety. These include fire safety, gas and electrical safety, and housing health.
This can be time-consuming and confusing, so you should consider outsourcing this side of your property management duties. Executive Property Management Solutions takes care of the following tasks, as well as many other jobs that need attention across the property management spectrum.
It is vital that the lettings agent keeps up-to-date with the latest fire regulations. The government often runs consultations on improvements and tweaks to the rules in order to set the safest possible standard for the private rental market. As such, the legislation can change, and you need to remain on top of the current law.
There must be smoke alarms on every storey of the property, with regular testing to ensure they are working. If there is a room with a solid fuel burning appliance, such as a wood burning stove, you need to install a carbon monoxide detector.
If it is a furnished property, the furniture needs to adhere to fire safety standards. Finally, there must be access to escape routes at all times in case of an emergency.
Gas and Electrical Safety
For gas appliances, the letting agent needs to arrange for a qualified engineer to fit and maintain it. You can find a list of accredited Gas Safe registered businesses on the Gas Safe website.
A Gas Safe engineer must also perform an annual safety check on your appliances, and you are required to present tenants with the gas safety check record when they pick up the keys to the property.
You must also safety test electrical devices that come as part of the rental, with regular checks on the property’s general electrical system too.
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System covers all of the above, as well as other areas of tenant safety. This is the standard used by councils to inspect rental properties and to highlight potential risks.
Some of the items that inspectors look for include the growth of damp and mould within the property, how well it’s heated, overcrowding, the infestation of vermin, and the risk of tripping on uneven surfaces within the grounds and inside the house or flat.
If the property fails an inspection under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, the council can act against the landlord or lettings agent. This is why it is so important to be on top of property management at all times.
Help With Property Management
Executive Property Management Solutions takes care of the property management of the homes you let, removing a huge weight from your shoulders. The thorny issue of tenant safety is just one of many good reasons to outsource these management duties.
If you want to find out more about what we can do you for you, give us a call today on 0208 5757630, or fill in the form below and ask us about anything that is on your mind.