Tue 06 Dec 2016 View all news articles

What legislation must I conform to before I can let my property?

I often encounter many landlords who believe they need to conform to countless, comprehensive regulations before they are able to legally rent their property, and they are often surprised at just how straightforward it can be.

Essentially there are three areas that must be addressed before we can allow a tenant to move into a property (though other areas must be considered).

1. Firstly and perhaps most importantly is a Gas Safety Certificate.
This must be in place before a tenant moves into the property, ensuring that any gas appliances, fittings and flues are safe to use. We would keep a copy of the certificate on our records and provide your tenant with a copy prior to the tenancy. We can also arrange renewal of the certificate every 12 months. My tip would be not to leave this to the last minute. I often see landlords arrange this only a couple of days before their tenants are due to move in. This means that if any works are required before the certificate can be issued it can leave very little time and often results in pushing back move in dates and disappointing tenants in the process.  

Remember, it will remain the duty of the landlord to maintain and repair any such appliances, flues and pipework, and all works must be carried out by a registered Gas Safety engineer.  

2. Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
All properties introduced to the lettings market must have an Energy Performance Certificate available for prospective tenants to peruse before deciding whether to apply for the property. EPC’s were first introduced as part of the now redundant Home Information Packs (HIP) back in August 2007. Although HIPs are no longer in effect, the energy performance certificate is still a compulsory requirement. Each certificate is valid for 10 years. However, more often than not this is an expense most landlords are able to side step. As when purchasing your buy-to-let investment you will find an EPC in place already. 

3. The final and most recent regulatory addition that private rental sector landlords must comply to is the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations 2015, which were introduced on 1st October 2015.
It is now compulsory for a smoke alarm to be fitted to each storey of living accommodation. They can be battery operated alarms and do not have to be mains wired. Carbon monoxide alarms are only required if the accommodation features a solid fuel burning appliance, such as log burners and open fires. Another great reason to choose our award winning full management package, upon our periodic inspections we will always check the alarms to ensure they are in working order.

Other legislation to consider:

Furniture & Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations 1998
My tip would be to rent out a property unfurnished. Unfurnished properties tend to appeal to a wider audience and as such usually help secure long term tenants. All furniture and furnishings supplied in let accommodation must comply with these regulations. This includes beds, head boards, mattresses, sofas, chairs, loose stretch covers, scatter cushions, pillows etc (but it does not comply to curtains, carpets and bed clothes including duvets and mattress covers). Generally domestic furniture manufactured after March 1990 should comply. Normally any unlabelled furniture is deemed non-compliant. The regulations make it clear there should be no non-compliant furniture in any part of the property including the garage and loft space.

Finally, perhaps one of the most common misconceptions I come across is many people believing that an Electrical Safety Certificate is mandatory when letting. It’s an understandable assumption of course, but it is not in fact compulsory. Unlike gas regulations, there is no law that says you must have a landlord electrical safety certificate. However, should any electrical fittings or appliances within your rental property cause harm to a tenant you could be held liable. My tip here would be to have us instruct a combined Gas and Electrical Safety Inspection, a certificate issued for both gas and electric gives ultimate peace of mind, and instructing together saves money in the process.

If you have any questions about legislation, or any other lettings based queries, please contact our Lettings team who will be delighted to help. Details below.

Heswall Lettings
Tel: 0151 342 5777

Do you have a property you are thinking of renting out? For a free, no obligation, valuation please complete our quick form here.

Daryl Tomlinson 
Heswall Lettings Branch Manager

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