There are many things that landlords need to bear in mind when it comes to managing a property and providing their tenant with service. However, for many landlords, the most important aspect to bear in mind comes with complying with safety regulations. There seems to be an ever increasing number of rules and regulations that a landlord has to comply with and the consequences of failing to do can have serious consequences.
If the rental property contains gas appliances, a landlord must ensure that year gas safety checks are undertaken at the property. These checks have to be carried out by an engineer or gas fitter who is on the Gas Safety Register. A copy of the most recent test should be provided to the tenant at the time they move into the property and a failure to do so, or maintain the annual check, can see a landlord losing the right to serve a Section 21 notice on tenants.
There is also a need for landlords who run bedsits, flats or hostels to ensure that a risk assessment of the property is undertaken with respect to Fire Safety Order, and this assessment should be in writing. There is no need for a statutory risk assessment for single dwelling lets or for shared houses.
At this point in time, the Electrical Installation Condition Report, or the EICR is only optional for English landlords but many people expect that this will soon become compulsory. The most important thing for a landlord to do with respect to electrical appliances at home is to provide a duty of care for all people in their property. This has always been a factor of being a landlord, detailed in the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 and the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 but there looks set to be a formalisation of what is expected from landlords.
As you would expect, this is a report that can only be carried out by a qualified electrician, so it is worthwhile reviewing local electricians or electrical firms and seeing what services they provide.
Landlords operating in England are also required to have a smoke alarm present on every floor of the property and for every room that has a solid fuel source; there is a need to have a carbon monoxide alarm present.
There will also be changes to the energy standards expected from your home. By the 1st of April, according to the Minimum Energy Performance Standards, or MEPS, all private sector rental accommodations for new or renewing tenants must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of at least an E. Landlords should also bear in mind that they are legally obliged to provide a EPC to a tenant at the time they move into the property. A landlord that fails to provide the EPC to a tenant will not be able to serve a Section 21 notice for a new tenancy which has begun after 1st October of 2015.
There has also been a recent change to the way a landlord must respond to reasonable requests by a tenant for home improvements. This means landlords have to respond in writing and commit to making improvements if there is no reasonable reason to avoid making these changes.
The peace of mind that comes from complying with health and safety regulations is often the main motivation for a landlord to ensure that they meet these requirements. However, a landlord found to be in breach of these regulations may find that they are limited in what they are able to do with respect to evicting their tenant and in some cases, may find that they are fined or could even lose their licence.