All landlords have a duty of care to ensure that their tenants are safe.
Safety Regulations and Responsibilities.
Under the Gas Safety (installation and Use) Regulations 1998 all landlords are required by law to have their gas appliances, pipes and flues checked by a qualified Gas Safe Registered engineer every 12 months. Full records must be kept for at least 2 years of inspections of each appliance and any remedial works completed. A copy of the safety certificate issued by the engineer must be given to each new tenant before their tenancy commences, or to each existing tenant within 28 days of the check being carried out.
The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994 state that supplying unsafe appliances is an offence. Therefore we would recommend that all electrical equipment should be independently tested by completing an installation Survey or Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) to ensure the devices are safe.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a report detailing the efficiency of a property. It gives the property an efficiency rating from A-G and is valid for 10 years. All landlords are required by law to purchase an EPC for a property before it is let and a copy must be provided to the tenant.
Fire and Furnishing
Since 1st January 1997, all furniture provided in furnished rented accommodation – houses, flats, bedsits – must meet the fire resistance requirements of the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1998.
The regulations apply to any of the following upholstered items:
- Beds, mattresses and headboards
- Sofa beds, futons and any other convertibles
- Loose and stretch covers for furniture
- Nursery furniture
- Scatter cushions, seat covers and pillows
The regulations do not apply to:
- Sleeping bags or loose covers for mattresses
- Bedclothes – including duvets and pillowcases
From 01st October 2015 all landlords are required to fit a smoke alarm to each storey of a premise where there is a room that is wholly or partly used as living accommodation. This includes halls and landings. Therefore a smoke detector is required on each storey.
Carbon Monoxide Alarm
From 01st October 2015 all landlords are also required to fit a Carbon Monoxide alarm in any room that is used partly or wholly as living accommodation which also contains any appliance which burns, or is capable of burning, solid fuel. This includes log and coal burning stoves and open fires, even if they are not normally in use, but does not include gas and oil boilers. There is no legal requirement to fit a Carbon Monoxide alarm for gas boilers, but My Blackpool Home does require this to be fitted as part of our property standards.
Legionella Risk Assessment
Legionella is a potentially fatal illness like pneumonia, which can be caught by inhaling bacteria generated by hot and cold water heating systems, including storage tanks which are not functioning properly or have been stagnant for some time. The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and the control of Substances Hazardous to Health 1999 have recently changed and the Control of Legionella bacteria in Water Systems Approved Code of Practice (“ACOP L8”) now applies to domestic living. It is recommended that all landlords of residential rental properties have a Legionella Risk Assessment completed every two years to comply with the law.
The Housing Act 2004 introduced a new definition of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). It is any building or part of a building, such as a flat, which:
- Is occupied by more than one household and three or more individuals who share an amenity (or the building lacks an amenity), such as a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities
- Is occupied by more than one household and three or more individuals and is a converted building, which does not entirely comprise of self-contained flats (whether or not there is also a sharing or lack of amenities)
- Is comprised entirely of converted flats and the standard of conversion does not meet, as a minimum, that required by the 1991 Building Regulations, and at least one third of the flats are let on short-term tenancies.
In the case of student accommodation it should be noted that each student constitutes a single household, therefore a shared student house is defined as an HMO.
All HMO’s are subject to HMO management regulations and a 5 yearly inspection by the Council.
Under the Housing Act 2004 there are three types of licences for landlords or letting agents managing HMOs.
Mandatory licensing applies to large HMOs on 3 or more storeys, with 5 or more people in two or more households, with some sharing of amenities or units not all fully self-contained.
Additional licensing applies to other types of HMO, for example properties with less than 3 storeys or fewer than 5 occupants. This is a discretionary licensing scheme, which in Blackpool, currently only applies in the Claremont area.
Selective licensing is also a discretionary scheme. It applies to all private rented properties, whether or not they are HMOs, in particular areas. Blackpool is currently operating selective licensing schemes in the South Beach and Claremont areas of the town.
You must check to see if a licence is required for your property. It is a criminal offence, carrying a maximum fine of £20,000, to operate an HMO without a licence if it requires one.
- Selective Licensing
Selective licensing is a regulatory tool that allows local authorities to tackle areas suffering from significant anti-social behaviour or low housing demand, by requiring all privately rented homes to be licensed.
Licences place obligations on landlords that include helping to deal with anti-social behaviour caused by tenants, by undertaking a risk assessment and implementing a risk management plan.
Early identification of risk associated with individual tenants allows landlords to make better choices when deciding whether to offer a tenancy, and how to manage their tenants.
If you own a property that is within a Selective Licensing area, you are required to purchase a Licence from the Council. You will need to purchase this, before we can let your property.
If you need further information in regards to Selective Licensing, please click on the following link, or visit the Council Website.
Additional Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation
From 4th July 2016 Blackpool Council will also be running an additional licensing scheme in the Central area of Blackpool. This will run alongside the Mandatory HMO licensing scheme.
The designation applies to all HMO’s within the designated area, as defined by section 254 Housing Act 2004, which are occupied by 3 or more persons, comprising 2 or more households (irrespective of the number of storeys within the HMO). This may be a property of any number of storeys with shared facilities, or a property converted into self-contained flats that fall within section 257 Housing Act 2004, and are converted flats that do not comply with 1991 building regulations and where more than one third are rented out on short term tenancies.
If you are unsure if your property falls within the designated criteria/area then you will need to contact Blackpool Council on 01253 476841.
You must check to see if a licence is required for your property. It is a criminal offence carrying a maximum fine of £20,000 to operate an HMO without a licence if it requires one.