Legislation has changed dramatically over the years and sometimes it feels as though there is a different piece of legislation that comes in every year however as a responsible and professional agent all current legislation MUST be adhered to and all landlords must have these requirements in place before a property can be Let Out. Some Legislation does not apply to all property.
It is a landlord’s responsibility to ensure that his/her property meets all the necessary SAFETY regulations prior to letting out the property.
The safety legislation guide below explains the implications and requirements applied to residential let property. (This is for guidance purposes only and you are advised to contact the appropriate authorities should you require further information).
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Furniture and furnishings (fire) (safety) (amendment) regulations 1993
The above regulations were amended in 1993 and set a new and more stringent level of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture and furnishings. It is now an offence to ‘supply’ in the course of business, including the supply of furniture for a residential property to be let, any furniture which does not comply with the regulations. The regulations apply to: beds, bed-heads, sofas, children’s furniture, garden furniture suitable for use in a dwelling, cushions, pillows, stretch or loose covers for furniture and other similar items. The regulations do not apply to: carpets, curtains and bedclothes (including duvets and mattress covers).
Furniture manufactured after March 1990 is likely to comply, but if the appropriate labels are not on the furniture or furnishings, compliance is doubtful and checks should be made with the manufacturer or replaced with the compliant equivalent.
The gas safety (installation and use) regulations 1998
These regulations came into effect 31st October 1994 to ensure that gas appliances are properly installed and maintained in a safe condition. It is the responsibility of landlords to ensure that all gas appliances and gas installation pipe work owned by them are checked for safety at least once a year by a Gas Safe registered installer. Furthermore accurate records of safety inspections and any work carried out must be kept and the current safety certificate must be issued to the occupier within 28 days of the annual check and a copy issued to any new tenant prior to them taking occupation of a property. Faulty equipment can be fatal and lead to the imposition of custodial sentences on the landlord and significant fines. Under the regulations any appliance that does not conform can be disconnected. For more detailed information on gas safety see the Health and Safety Executives (HSE) leaflet on Landlords: A Guide to Landlords’ Duties or consult the HSE Landlord’s Responsibility for Gas Safety webpage.
Landlords have a legal duty to ensure that their rental property and any electrical equipment provided, is safe before a tenancy begins and throughout its duration. The Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 details this requirement in Section 13 of the Repairing Standard. A house or Flat meets the Repairing Standard if:
- The installations in the house for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation, space heating and heating water, are in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order (subsection (1)(c))
- Any fixtures, fittings and appliances provided by the landlord under the tenancy are in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order (subsection (1) (d))
The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, also impose an obligation on a landlord to ensure that all electrical appliances left as part of a let property are safe and are made in line with safety measures, meeting safety objectives.
More recently however, the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014, which received Royal Assent on the 1st of August 2014 is set to increase landlord obligations in respect of electrical safety inspections with the addition of a new requirement after Section 19 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006, Section 19A – Duty to ensure regular electrical safety inspections – will state that the landlord must ensure that regular inspections are carried out for the purpose of identifying any work which relates to installations for the supply of electricity and electrical fixtures, fittings and appliances (subsection (1)(a)) and is necessary to ensure that the house meets the repairing standard (subsection (1)(b)).
In line with the Electrical Safety Council a landlord will have complied with the duty if the electrical inspections are carried out at no less than five yearly intervals (subsection (2) (a) and (b).
Any tenant under a new tenancy commencing on or after 1 December 2015 must be provided with a copy of an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) before the tenancy commences.
Any tenant under an existing tenancy at 30 November 2015 must be provided with a copy of an EICR by 1 December 2016 unless their tenancy ends before that date.
An EICR completed on or after 1 January 2012 completed by a competent person is acceptable, whether or not it in includes a description and location for appliances inspected. However, to be acceptable all EICRs completed on or after 1 December 2015 must have a Portable Appliance Test (PAT) record attached to it that shows their description and location and a certificate for any remedial work that has been done.
Energy performance of buildings (Scotland) regulations 2008
Since the 4th of January 2009, landlords in Scotland are now required to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) when letting a property. This is for new tenancies only and landlords do not need to carry out an EPC inspection for properties that are currently let out until the tenancy changes If you have purchased your property after the 1st of December 2008, the seller will have been legally required to have instructed and provided you with a Home Report for marketing purposes which also contains an EPC you can then use for the purpose of letting your property. The EPC for let properties has a life span of 10 years but can be updated if the landlord has implemented cost effective improvements.
It is now a criminal offence to grant a lease without an EPC on any building that requires one. Failure to supply an EPC could result in a fine of £500.00 for a domestic dwelling.
Legionella risk assessment
The Health and Safety Executive have produced technical guidance Legionnaires disease, Part 2: The control of legionella bacteria in hot and cold water systems (HSG274/PART 2) which gives practical advice on the legal requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 concerning the risk from exposure to Legionella and guidance on compliance with the relevant parts of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
Landlords who provide residential accommodation, as the person in control of the premises or responsible for the water systems in their premises, have a legal duty to ensure that the risk of exposure of tenants to legionella is properly assessed and controlled. All water systems require a risk assessment but not all systems require elaborate control measures. A simple risk assessment may show that there are no real risks from legionella, but if there are, implementing appropriate measures will prevent or control these risks.
Smoke alarms – Fire safety
Fire safety in let property in Scotland is covered by the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006. The repairing standard at Section 13(1) (f) requires a property to have adequate provision for detecting fires and giving warning in the event of a fire or suspected fire. As stated in Section 13(5) of the 2006 Act, in deciding whether this standard is met, regard must be had to any building regulations and any guidance on the subject issued by the Scottish Ministers.
The Scottish Government has produced revised statutory guidance on the requirements for smoke alarms in line with the amended and revised technical guidance that has been issued by Building Standards Division (Technical Handbooks 2013 Domestic – Fire). The revised Domestic Technical Handbook guidance states there should be at least:
- One functioning smoke alarm in the room which is frequently used by the occupants for general daytime living purposes,
- One functioning smoke alarm in every circulation space, such as hallways and landings,
- One heat alarm in every kitchen, and all alarms should be interlinked.
Carbon monoxide (CO) alarms
From 1st October 2013 Scottish building regulations require carbon monoxide detectors to be fitted when a new or replacement boiler or other fixed heating appliance is installed in a dwelling. The need for carbon monoxide detection applies to any fixed heating appliance powered by a carbon based fuel, that is, gas (both mains and liquid petroleum gas), oil and solid fuel (coal, coke, wood, wood pellets, etc).
In addition, the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014, which received Royal Assent on the 1st of August 2014 is set to vary the Repairing Standard in Section 13 with the addition of a new requirement on the subject of Carbon Monoxide alarms. The Repairing Standard will require that a property has: “satisfactory provision for giving warning if carbon monoxide is present in a concentration hazardous to health.” As with smoke detectors, when considering compliance, reference will be made to Scottish Government guidance and to any building regulations on the matter.
Battery powered CO alarms are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased from a variety of hardware retail outlets.