These notes relate to private lettings of self-contained houses and flats in England and Wales. If you are responsible for blocks of flats, shared accommodation, bedsits or houses in multiple occupation (HMO's) the rules are complex and you should check with appropriate experts.
It is your responsibility as landlord to provide a safe home for your tenants. There are specific rules and regulations covering areas such as electricity and gas but you should also review the property as a whole to see if anything needs to be done to minimise the risk of an accident. This usually means inspecting regularly and keeping a record of what you have seen and the decisions you have made.
The electrical supply and any appliances you provide must be safe. This of course includes things like plugs, sockets and adapters. If any appliance might be used outdoors a residual current device must be supplied.
Unlike with gas safety there is no legal requirement to obtain an official safety certificate but it is good practice to arrange regular inspections of both the supply and any appliances. These checks should be done by a qualified electrical engineer and you should keep a copy of the report provided. Many electricians specialize in this type of work and they will be very familiar with the items to check and the type of paperwork they should supply to you. If any recommendations are made they should be acted on without delay.
If you are having electrical work done on your let property you must ensure that the contractor is "competent approved". The contractor must verify that the work complies with the relevant safety requirements.
If there is an accident you will be in a very weak position if you do not have detailed records of inspections and work done.
It is a criminal offence to install any furniture or furnishings that do not comply with the regulations into a let property
Virtually everything you would normally consider to be furniture and furnishings are covered by the regulations including:
Mattresses, beds, headboards, pillows, scatter cushions, furniture covers, armchairs and sofas, children's furniture and garden furniture.
Remember that the regulations apply to second hand items as well as new ones. However, they do not apply to furniture made before 1950 and antique furniture. Also, they do not apply to bedclothes and curtains and carpets. However, they still need to be safe even if the regulations do not apply to them!
If you are letting a small self-contained house or flat to one family unit the safety regulations are less onerous than those that apply to more complex properties such as houses in multiple occupation and blocks of flats. However, this does not mean that you can ignore precautions like smoke detectors. Having these are wired in and regularly checked will give you and the tenants some peace of mind. Fire safety is an area where you need to apply common sense together with specialist advice from electrical engineers and other relevant professionals.
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