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Legals:

In order to let your property, there are a number of health and safety guidelines you must follow to protect you legally and to ensure the safety of the tenants who are residing within the property.

Regulations regarding fire-resistant furniture are very strict for rental accommodation and you MUST make sure all relevant items meet the guidelines set under the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Amendment Regulations 1993. It is advised that, as a general guide, furniture made before 1988 is unlikely to meet the necessary standards and should be replaced before letting your property. Any items that contain upholstery, and could be used inside the property, should be checked, including:

  • Beds, headboards, mattresses, futons and sofa beds
  • Children's or nursery furniture
  • Garden furniture that might be used within the property
  • Cushions, pillows, etc.

Items that are exempt from this legislation include:

  • Sleeping bags, duvets, pillow cases and blankets.
  • Carpets and curtains.
  • Furniture made before 1950.

In order to check items for the fire safety standards, look for a permanent label stating the regulation it conforms to. Bed bases and mattresses are not required to have this label attached, but they should have a label stating compliance with ignitability tests. Look for the compliance code BS 7177 on these items for confirmation.

If you're in any doubt that certain items may not meet the required standard, replace them. There are substantial fines and even prison sentences imposed for non-compliance should an accident occur.

Gas Safety

The main risk of not servicing or maintaining gas equipment is a serious gas explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning. Landlords are required by law to service all gas-related equipment at least once every 12 months. Landlords must also keep a record of regular checks and the condition of equipment at all times. You must also provide tenants with an annual gas safety certificate. If you do not provide your tenant with an annual gas safety certificate, you are breaking the law.

Landlords are also responsible for providing tenants with instructions for the safe use of gas appliances and equipment.

CORGI (Council for the Registration of Gas Installers)

The only businesses legally allowed to service gas appliances equipment and flues are those registered with CORGI. You should ask to see a contractor's CORGI registration certificate before allowing them to conduct any work on the property. Check the CORGI website to make sure all contractors you use are registered.

Electric Safety Certficate

The electrical wiring in your property must be safe and in good working order throughout. You must also ensure you have enough sockets to meet the need of tenants. Contact an electrician approved by the NICEIC (National Inspection Council For Electrical Inspection Contractors).

Wiring that is more than 15 years old should be inspected on an annual basis. Wiring that is more recent can be left for longer periods if there are no indications of any problems. An electrician's report is likely to recommend a re-inspection in between two and ten years, although it is sensible to have these checks more frequently.

If you are planning on providing electrical equipment to your tenants, you should ensure that all items are regularly tested for safety and labelled accordingly. Get an electrician to make the necessary checks before each let and then periodically after that. Keep all electrical testing reports for your own records.

EPC

The Certificate will give the building a rating from A to G. An A rating shows it's very efficient, meaning lower fuel bills, while G is inefficient, meaning higher fuel bills. The Certificate will also show the building's environmental impact by indicating its carbon-dioxide emissions.

EPC-example

From October 1 2008, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive became effective across the private rented sector. This legislation states that all residential rental properties must have a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for tenants to view before contracts are signed.

The Certificate will give the building a rating from A to G. An A rating shows it's very efficient, meaning lower fuel bills, while G is inefficient, meaning higher fuel bills. The Certificate will also show the building's environmental impact by indicating its carbon-dioxide emissions. The EPC must be made available to all prospective tenants. Your Bassetts letting agent can arrange for an EPC to be prepared on your behalf.

This legislation only applies to properties entering the market from October 1 2008 and does not apply to existing tenancy agreements or to tenancy renewals.

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