On 31st October 1994 the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1994 came into force. Under Regulations 35(2) it is the duty of any person (i.e. Landlord) who owns a gas appliance and pipe work installed in the premises, to ensure that such appliance and pipe work installed in the premises is maintained in a safe condition so as to prevent risk or injury to any person. The Regulations cover all appliances and all types of gas for heating, lighting, cooking or other purposes for which gas can be used. The owner (i.e. the Landlord) of any gas appliance must ensure that each appliance is checked for safety at least every 12 months by a qualified gas engineer, e.g. an employee of British Gas or a Gas Safe Registered engineer. A record must be kept of all safety inspections and the results open to the Tenants inspection by law. The landlord must have a Gas Safety Inspection carried out before a Tenant(s) occupies the Property and signs the tenancy agreement (Further information can be obtained from British Gas on 0800 300 363). A copy of the certificate must now be given to the tenant before the tenancy commences. If the Landlord is unable to, Claremont Estates will provide the certificate at the Landlords expense.
If a landlord provides any electrical appliances as part of a tenancy, the Electrical Equipment (safety) Regulations require him or her to ensure that the appliances are safe when first supplied. Although there is no specific requirement for portable appliances testing to be carried out to rented accommodation, the landlord is required to take reasonable steps to ensure that appliances such as electric kettles, fridges and washing machines provided as part of the tenancy agreement are safe.
Portable appliance testing is one way of ensuring equipment is safe for continued use. Guidance from Communities and Local Government (CLG) indicates that when accommodation is re-let, the electric appliances will be classed as being supplied to that tenant for the first time, and should therefore be re-checked.
From the 1st October 2008 all rental properties in England and Wales with a new tenancy will be required by law to have an Energy Performance Certificate - EPC.
A landlord (or landlords agent) will be required to show the EPC to prospective tenants. The tenant will be able to see at a glance how energy efficient and environmentally friendly a particular rental property is.
They will have to be provided when any written information about the property is provided or a viewing undertaken. If neither of these occur it must be supplied before entering into a contract to let.
The certificates are valid for 10 years. If a property has recently been purchased, it is likely to have an Energy Performance. There will be no need to get EPCs for current tenancies or renewals to the same tenants. A tenant cannot legally move in to the property until an Energy Performance Certificate has been produced.
In 1988 the government introduced new regulations on the use of any filling material or re-upholstery whether foam or non-foam and the requirements of furniture to meet the “cigarette test” introduced in 1980. From March 1993 all newly rented furnished properties should only be furnished with contents that meet the “cigarette test” and carrying the appropriate label. Furniture manufactured prior to 1950 is exempt from these regulations as the Department of Trade and Industry has pointed out that most of the defective materials that cause fire were not in use prior to 1950. All furniture manufactured after 1983 should already comply with the regulations but there is particular concern for foam filled furniture manufactured between 1950 and 1983. The Landlord must ensure that Furniture complies with the above legislation before Tenant(s) occupy the Property and any furniture failing to comply must be removed by the Landlord and stored at the Landlords expense. All properties must also have a smoke alarm fitted. (Further information can be obtained from the DTI, Consumer Unit Room 302/303, 10-18 Victoria Street, London SW14 0NN).
From 6 April 2007, all deposits taken by landlords and letting agents under Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) in England and Wales must be protected by a tenancy deposit protection scheme. Landlords and letting agents must not take a deposit unless it is dealt with under a tenancy deposit scheme. Landlords and letting agents will be able to choose between two types of scheme; a single custodial scheme and two insurance-based schemes.
The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is an Insurance-based scheme run by an organisation called The Dispute Service and was established back in 2003 to provide independent dispute resolution and complaints handling for the lettings industry. For more information visit the website www.tds.gb.com or call 0845 226 7837.
Tenancy Deposit Solutions Ltd (TDSL) is an Insurance-based scheme; it is a new company set up as a partnership between the National Landlords Association and Hamilton Fraser insurance brokers. For more information visit the website www.mydeposits.co.uk
The Deposit Protection Service (DPS) is the sole Custodial scheme - the running costs of this scheme are funded entirely from the interest earned on all the deposits held by the scheme. The Custodial scheme is run by Computershare who have administered similar schemes for some years in other parts of the world, particularly Australia and New Zealand. For more information visit the website www.depositprotection.com