Landlords Domestic Energy Certificate OverView
From 1 October 2008, an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) will be required by law whenever a building in the rented sectors is let to a new tenant. If the landlord has failed to provide an EPC to a tenant, or fails to show an EPC to an enforcement officer when asked, Trading Standards can issue a notice with a penalty charge of £200 per dwelling. In addition to paying the penalty notice, the landlord will still have to provide an EPC to the person who has become the tenant.
From the 1st April 2018 there will be a requirement for any properties rented out in the private rented sector to have a minimum energy performance rating of E on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The regulations will come into force for new lets and renewals of tenancies with effect from 1st April 2018 and all existing tenancies from 1st April 2020. It will be unlawful to rent a property that does not have a minimum E rating, unless there is an applicable exemption. There are penalties that can be imposed for any breaches in this requirement.
Where the landlord has an agent, they may be given the task of ensuring that these requirements are met before the property can be advertised. However, the landlord and not the letting agent will remain responsible for any breaches.
- Landlords must provide an EPC free of charge to prospective tenants at the earliest opportunity and must provide a copy of the EPC to the person who takes up the tenancy.
- The purpose of the EPC is to show prospective tenants the energy performance of the dwelling they are considering renting.
- EPCS are valid for 10 years and be reused as many times as required within that period. It is not necessary to commission a new EPC each time there is a change of tenant.
- An EPC is not required for any property that was occupied prior to 1 October 2008 and which continues to be occupied after that date by the same tenant. However, Landlords may commission EPCS for these dwellings if they wish.
- In instances of lettings where marketing activity is initiated pre-October 2008, an EPC is only required if the property continues to be offered for let on or after 1 October 2008.
- The EPC shows two things – the Energy Efficiency Rating (relating to running costs) and the Environmental Impact Rating (relating to the carbon dioxide emissions) of a dwelling. Each rating is shown on an A-G rating scale similar to those used for fridges and other electrical appliances.
- The rating is accompanied by a recommendation report that shows how to improve the dwelling’s energy efficiency. These two elements together form the EPC and the complete document must be provided to the new tenant.
Gas Safety Regulations
There are very important obligations placed upon Landlords to ensure that all mains or bottled gas appliances supplied by them in a rented property have a certificate of safety. This means central heating boilers, water heaters, cookers, fires and any other gas appliances, must be certificated by an engineer who is registered with The GAS SAFE Register for domestic appliance work, following which a safety record in a prescribed format must be obtained and a copy issued to the tenant. The appliances must be properly maintained and the safety record must be renewed annually and the tenant must receive an updated copy. Non compliance with the Gas Safety Regulations could result in a heavy fine, imprisonment, or both. As these provisions apply equally to the managing agent as well as the Landlord, you will understand that we must take a clear stance in this matter to the extent that we are unable to accept and/or retain a property on our books unless, in respect of all appliances, either:-
- A current record is already in force OR
- The Landlord is obtaining a record which is given to us before we move in a tenant OR
- The Landlord authorises Advanced Lettings to obtain all the certification.
There are numerous pieces of legislation detailed below that determine your legal obligations as a Landlord.
- Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994
- Consumer Protection Act 1987
- Plugs and Sockets (Safety) Regulations 1994.
- General Product (Safety) Regulations 2005
- Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
- Building Regulations Electrical Safety 2005
- Defective Premises Act 1972
The requirements are for you to offer your property (including installation and appliances) in a safe manner, where the definition of safe is to prevent risk of injury or death. Unfortunately, no one piece of legislation deals with how to do this, but common law and due diligence provides sufficient guidance. In general you need to be able to prove that you have taken the appropriate measures between tenancies to ensure that the property is safe. This can be one with periodic electrical installation reports and portable appliance testing.
Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
The law requires that all new houses built after June 1992 and all properties declared as Houses in Multiple Occupation must have electronically linked, mains operated smoke detectors installed on each floor.
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015, which came into force on 1st October 2015, requires all landlords to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their property and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance.
Although carbon alarms do not need to be fitted where rooms have gas or oil appliances, we would strongly encourage all landlords to ensure that working carbon monoxide alarms are installed in rooms with gas appliances because gas appliances can emit carbon monoxide
After which the landlord must ensure that all the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy. For further information please contact your Advanced Lettings representative.
Please be aware there are fines of up to £5000, which can be imposed by the Local Authority to enforce this regulation.
Landlords of residential accommodation have responsibilities
for combating Legionnaires ‘disease. Health and safety legislation requires that landlords carry out risk assessments for the Legionella bacteria which cause Legionnaires ‘ disease and thereafter maintain control measures to minimise the risk. Most rented premises will be low risk but it is important that risk assessments are carried out and control measures introduced.
Legionnaires ‘disease is a pneumonia like illness caused by the Legionella bacteria and can be fatal. The infection is caused by breathing in small droplets of water contaminated by the bacteria. The disease cannot be passed from one person to another.
Legionella bacteria are found in the natural environment and may contaminate and grow in water systems, including domestic hot and cold water systems. They survive low temperatures and thrive at temperatures between 20 – 45°C if the conditions are right. They are killed by high temperatures at 60°C or above.
Landlords are under a duty to ensure that the risk of exposure to tenants, residents and visitors by Legionella is properly assessed and controlled. Normally there is no reason why a landlord should not carry out this risk assessment himself/herself so long as they are competent. Usually there will be no need to employ a consultant. The assessment should be a straight forward simple exercise in ordinary domestic premises.
Carrying out risk assessment and control measures
Simple control measures will help manage the risk from Legionella and these should be maintained including:
- flushing out the water system by running all outlets for at least 2 minutes where the premises have not been used e.g. before letting the property or if the property has stood empty for a time
- avoiding debris getting into the system (e.g. making sure cold water tanks, if installed, have a tight fitting lid)
- setting controls so that the hot water is heated to and stored at 60°C
- the removal of any redundant pipe work
- advising tenants to regularly clean, descale and disinfect shower heads
Unoccupied premises: The risk from Legionella may increase if the property is unoccupied even for a short period. It is important that water is not left to stand in the hot or cold water systems. As a general rule, all outlets on hot and cold water systems should be used at least once a week for at least 2 minutes to maintain a degree of water flow and minimise the chances of stagnation. For long periods consider draining the system. Make sure that the system is flushed through when it is re-occupied by running all outlets for at least 2 minutes.
HSE Guidance: This guide is intended to give a brief overview to what landlord’s should do. Further advice is available from the Health & Safety Executive, their website is www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires
What happens if the landlord does not carry out his/her obligations? The consequences can be serious. Landlords are legally required to manage properties so as not to expose tenants, residents and visitors to risk. Heavy fines or even imprisonment can be imposed especially if someone were to unfortunately die. Landlords can be prosecuted even if there is an exposure to risk without anyone actually becoming ill.
Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety
The Fire and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 require that all upholstered furniture and furnishings in rented properties must comply.
If any property is found not to comply then you as a landlord face fines, imprisonment or both.
Any Landlord placing a property on the rental market MUST comply with these regulations immediately, and any furniture not complying MUST be removed BEFORE the tenancy commences.
Similarly, if any items in a property subject to an existing rental are replaced, either during a tenancy or a void period, then those replacement items must continue to satisfy the requirements of these important regulations. Generally, most furniture purchased from reputable suppliers after March 1990 should comply with the regulations and will be labelled accordingly.
Products covered by the Furniture and Furnishings Regulations
- Furniture intended for
private use in a dwelling, including children’s furniture
- Beds, headboards, mattresses
- Sofa-bed, futons and other convertibles
- Nursery furniture
- Garden furniture which is suitable for use in a dwelling
- Pillows, cushions and seat-pads
- Loose and stretch covers for furniture
Products not covered by the regulations
- Curtains, carpets, sleeping bags
- Bedclothes (including duvets)
- Loose covers for mattresses and pillowcases
- Furniture made before 1950