Reading the excellent Landlord & Buy to Let Magazine April issue (yes it sometimes takes me a while to get around to reading these things!) I found an article on page 16 about health and safety.
I thought it would be worth reproducing their ‘top ten’ list of the most common health and safety issues (as identified by AIIC), with a few comments from me.
1. Non compliant furniture, bedding and soft furnishings.
All furniture and furnishings have to comply with the furniture regulations. This means that they must be fire resistant and carry the proper labels. Items made before 1950 are exempt.
2. Loose sockets and light switches
This will probably come under the landlords general repairing obligations under s11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 which provides for landlords to keep in repair the installations for the supply of electricity. There are also some plug and socket regulations. Note that all electrical work must now be done by a qualified electrician.
3. No smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors fitted
So far as I am aware this is not a statutory requirement save perhaps in some HMO properties. However both are certainly advisable, and smoke alarms may also be required by some insurance companies.
4. Obscured gas meters and electricity mains fuse boxes
If these are not located in an obvious place, this is something which could be set out in a tenants ‘welcome pack’. These are provided by the better landlords, and include things like manuals for appliances, details of local amenities etc.
5. Curtain tracks and blinds where screws have been put direct into the wall without raw plugs
Again, I don’t think this is specifically in breach of any regulations other than the general safety legislation. For example The Consumer Protection Act 1987 and The General Product Safety Regulations 1994. Under these:
- products supplied to consumers in the course of business must be safe
- consumers must be supplied with information and warnings about the use of products supplied, and
- suppliers must make themselves aware of the risks associated with the use of products supplied.
6. Loose / damaged steps or paving outside a property
If this is the path and steps which are the immediate and ordinary access to the property, then it will come within the definition of the ‘structure and exterior’ of the property, which is required to be maintained by the landlord under section 11. Otherwise the responsibility will fall either as set out in the tenancy agreement, or to the tenant.
7. Loose stair carpet
This will be another product safety issue, falling under the regulations discussed at 5 above, unless of course it is loose because of something the tenant has done.
8. Poorly maintained decking
This will need to be in a safe condition at the time the property is let (product safety again), but as it will not (normally) fall within the landlords statutory repairing obligations, general maintenance will normally fall to the tenant, unless the tenancy agreement says otherwise.
9. Air vents and bricks covered in rooms, especially where there are gas appliances
I would have thought this fell either under the landlord’s general maintenance obligations regarding the structure and exterior of the property in section 11, or would be covered in some way by the gas regulations.
10. Locked windows with no keys supplied
This sounds like a fire safety hazard to me. I am not very well up on the fire regs – can anyone help here?
Generally on health and safety issues
All of the matters above may well be matters picked up by local authority environmental health officers doing an inspection under the Housing Health and Safety Rating system. Depending on the severity of the problem they may be assessed as a category 1 or 2 hazard. If they are a category 1 hazard, an improvement notice will be served on the landlord.
As indicated in 7, if the problem is caused by the tenants, then even if it is something which falls within the section 11 repairing covenants, the landlord is not duty bound to carry out repairs. Or if he does do the work, he will be entitled to reclaim the reasonable cost of this back from the tenants.