The need for landlords to be fully aware of their various health and safety responsibilities has never been greater. In recent months and years, a huge amount of legislation has been passed with the aim of protecting tenants – and landlords – from prosecution.

Maunder Taylor specialise in residential property management in Totteridge, Whetstone, and across Hertfordshire and North London. Here are the five key health and safety areas which all property investors and landlords are liable for.

Right to Rent Checks

The Government brought these in during 2016 with a view to ensuring that everyone who lived in private rented accommodation had a legal right to live in this country. Landlords should check the identity papers, including passports, of any new tenants and take copies. If anyone is found to be living illegally in any of your properties, then you face a fine of up to £3,000 per tenant.

Fitness for Human Habitation

This piece of legislation is even more recent (dating from 2019) and protects the rights of tenants. Essentially it means that all landlords have a duty to be sure their property is structurally safe and sound, has enough natural light and ventilation, and that there aren’t any problems with the water supply, drainage or lavatories.

There are 29 potential areas of concern in all; these were first listed in the Housing Health and Safety (England) Regulations 2005.

Legionella Inspections

Allied to this is the need to protect tenants from any infectious diseases. Foremost among these is Legionella, a potentially fatal lung disease which can result from inhaling water droplets containing Legionella bacteria. Every residential landlord has a duty to carry out a risk assessment for the disease. It means checking the domestic hot- and cold-water systems, water tanks, water heaters and the water temperature – all areas where Legionella could thrive – are in good working order.

The areas of the law that apply here are the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 (landlords are technically self-employed and tenants are classified as ‘other persons – not being his employees’) and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Act (COSHH) of 2002.

The Government’s official website adds that landlords and tenants have a joint responsibility to keep premises Covid-secure; tenants should report any issues as quickly as possible, while landlords should act as quickly as possible to resolve any problems. It stresses the need to keep properties – and particularly any communal areas – well ventilated and regularly cleaned.

Power Precautions

If your property has any gas appliances or gas-fired heating system, then you as a landlord must have it inspected annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer. The results must then be recorded in a Landlord Gas Safety Record.

Your accommodation must also meet the national standards for electrical safety. This means all the electrical installations in your rented property must be inspected and tested by a qualified expert at least once every five years. The standards are laid down in the 18th edition of the Wiring Regulations which form part of British Standard 7671.

Every landlord must have a smoke alarm on every storey of their property which is used as living accommodation. A Carbon Monoxide alarm must be fitted to any room which has a solid fuel burning appliance, such as a coal fire or a wood-burning stove.

Every let property has to have a current Energy Performance Certificate (this also applies to any home which is built or sold). The EPC gives the property an energy efficiency rating from A (which is the most efficient) to G (the least efficient) and is valid for 10 years. If your accommodation falls into either the F or G categories then you must take steps to improve it.

Regular Inspections

This may not be a statutory responsibility, but failure to check on the condition of a property could easily lead to problems further down the line. Landlords should visit their let accommodation regularly to check on any structural problems, issues with the utilities and any unauthorised pets or extra tenants. The visits can also be used if any occupants are suspected of breaching the terms of their lease, such as anti-social behaviour.

Remember, landlords cannot just turn up spontaneously to inspect their own property; they are expected to give at least 24 hours’ notice of an unscheduled visit (unless it’s a suspected emergency for something like a gas leak). It’s much easier to schedule visits in advance – whether they are monthly, quarterly or whatever – so everyone knows where they stand.

Residential Property Management in Totteridge from Maunder Taylor

This is a lot for any private individual to take on board, so Maunder Taylor are happy to act as managing agents for private residential landlords and property investors. We specialise in residential block management in North London and Hertfordshire and will make sure you are fully compliant with all the latest legislation.

We also offer a range of other property and legal services, including valuation surveys, business insurance and office lease negotiations. If you would like to know more, follow this link and or call us on either 020 8446 0011 or 01707 665 666, (for residential block management queries only).