Property compliance is a topic most of us are aware in pieces but not many of us understand this in entirety.
Additionally, the ongoing changes that government brings in to legislation periodically increases the complexity further.
Here is the fact:
Local authorities may impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000 on landlords who are in breach of their duties.
That makes it simple and clear that, the responsibility of the buy-to-let or any other property compliance sits firmly with us landlords.
This post lists a few of the recent changes in such legislations besides compiling the essential property compliance at one place.
Electrical Safety (EICR)
EICR is all about electric installation and electric systems being safe to ensure property compliance.
Government regulations came in to force on 1st June 2020 regarding Electrical Installation and Condition report (EICR).
With a directive to have all existing tenanted properties to have EICR by April 2021, we got these done in few of our properties to be compliant with the recent regulation.
Key points of EICR:
- A qualified inspector will test fixed electrical parts of the property will be tested—E.g. wiring, the socket-outlets, light fittings and the consumer unit, including showers and extractors.
- EICR does not include electrical appliances like cookers, fridges, televisions etc.
- Landlords must do EICR every five years.
- Depending on property type, size and location price may vary between £95 to £200.
Here is a useful link to government guidelines on EICR for rental sector: Guide for landlords: electrical safety standards in the private rented sector
Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)
PAT testing is the process of checking electrical appliances for safety through a series of visual inspections and electronic tests.
This testing is probably best left to a qualified electrician to safely carry out the test procedures.
At the end of PAT testing you will receive:
- An inventory containing each appliance type, name location and description
- A full set of test results for each appliance tested
- A visible pass or fail label on each appliance detailing the inspection date, next test due date and the inspector’s signature.
Landlords should do PAT testing every two years for smaller appliances to ensure that they are in proper working order.
The Gas Safety (installation and use) regulations 1998 outline duties as a landlord to make sure all gas appliances, fittings, chimneys and flues are safe and working efficiently.
As a landlord following are the primary legal responsibilities around gas safety to ensure property compliance :
- Ensure the gas equipment is safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered
- Have a registered engineer do an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue. Provide the gas safety check to the current tenant.
- The checks are carried out annually and records are maintained for at least 2 years.
- Tenant and/or the letting agent has a copy of gas safety check at all times.
There are quite a few regulations around fire safety.
Following are a few of them:
- The Housing Act 2004, lays down the main requirements of fire safety in a rented home.
- Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988/1989, 1993 and 2010 apply to things like sofas, sofa beds, mattresses and even bean bags.
- The smoke and carbon monoxide alarm (England) regulations 2015 ensure that there are warning systems within the property to alert the tenant in case of fire.
- Make sure there is access to escape routes at all times.
Building regulations impact on fire safety, if you are refurbishing an existing property before you let it. You must make sure that any work carried out follows the legal requirements.
Water hygiene (Legionella)
Legionella is a type of bacteria found in freshwater environments, like lakes and streams.
Why is it important in the context of property?
Legionella becomes hazardous when it grows and spreads in human-made building water systems like:
- Showerheads and sink faucets
- Cooling towers (structures that contain water and a fan as part of centralized air cooling systems for building or industrial processes)
- Hot tubs that aren’t drained after each use
- Decorative fountains and water features
- Hot water tanks and heaters
Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia caused by the inhalation of small droplets of contaminated water containing Legionella.
Few legal sections from hse.gov.uk
“Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) makes provision for relevant health and safety legislation to apply to landlords to ensure a duty of care is shown to their tenants’ with regard to their health and safety.”
“The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) provides a framework of actions to control the risk from a range of hazardous substances, including biological agents (e.g. Legionella) – to identify and assess the risk and implement any necessary measures to control any risk.”
“There has been no change to UK legislation. Since the L8 Approved Code of Practice (3rd edition) (ACOP) was published in 2001, there has been a requirement for landlords of both domestic and business premises to assess the risks from exposure to Legionella to their tenants.”
Landlords of residential accommodation have a duty to assess and control the risk of exposure to tenants, residents and visitors by Legionella.
Asbestos was a good building material as it was cheap, fireproof and durable at one point in time.
It was found that people who inhaled the hazardous fibres were diagnosed with lung cancer and other respiratory problems.
Use of asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999, but you can still find it in many properties built before 1999.
When we bought one of our properties, asbestos was found in form of garage roof or gutters.
Under Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006, landlords have duties towards their tenants to minimise the risks of asbestos exposure.
Common areas in buy to let properties which may have asbestos:
- Roof spaces
- Find if asbestos is present at the premises
- Survey and sample for asbestos.
- Assess the potential risk of the asbestos and whether it’s likely to be damaged or disturbed.
- Take appropriate action
This material warrants qualified people to dispose of asbestos waste as it is ‘Hazardous Waste’.
Health and Safety Executive(HSE) about asbestos waste disposal can be found here.
Energy performance certification is a measure energy performance within the property.
The measure varies from A to G.
From 1st April 2018, all rented property both domestic and non-domestic which is to have a new tenancy must have an EPC rating of at least “E”.
From 1st April 2020, all domestic lettings (including existing) must achieve an “E” rating or better.
Within our portfolio, EPC certainly played a part in rejection of mortgage whilst buying a property.
Offer got accepted but the mortgage was denied due to EPC rating being less than E.
Yes, it’s true, despite the property looking perfectly OK with relatively new combi boiler the energy performance rating was E.
EPC register lets you view the property energy rating and download the report to perform due-diligence before you purchase a property.
If EPC rating is less than “E” you could:
- Renegotiate the price based on remedial works.
- Think of lending options like Bridging or angel investment instead of wasting time on working with a buy-to-let mortgage lender
Note: EPC once done is valid for 10 years. This would mean, any change to property to improve the energy performance is not registered until the certification is re-done.
Talking about licensing in property, there is a general understanding that licensing is all about HMO licensing.
Selective licensing is one of the measures that government is implementing to ensure proper checks are done on landlords for the safety of tenants.
Under the Housing Act 2004, local authorities have powers to introduce selective licensing of privately rented homes.
In areas where selective licensing applies, landlords must apply for a licence if they want to rent out a property. This helps the local authority to ensure that they are a “fit or proper person” to be a landlord.
Selective licensing will help force rogue landlords to clean up their acts and reduce socially unacceptable behaviour.
Ensure there are other stipulations concerning the management of the property and appropriate safety measures.
Experts claim that thousands of otherwise law-abiding landlords are unaware they are operating in a selective licensing area, hence breaking the rules by not holding a licence.
“WHAT YOU ARE AWARE OF YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF; WHAT YOU ARE NOT AWARE OF IS IN CONTROL OF YOU.”
— Anthony de Mello
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