Legislation

Fire Safety Regulations in Rental Properties

As a landlord, you have a legal responsibility to protect your tenants from the risk of fire. Below is a guide which will help you to make sure that your property is fully compliant with fire regulations.

Risk Assessments

Fire safety legislation requires that a fire risk assessment is completed which covers all areas of a rental property. The purpose of a fire risk assessment is to identify any potential hazards which could result in a fire, and to outline the steps which will be taken to minimise or remove this risk. Current legislation does not specify a particular type or method of fire assessment which must be used. However, the fire risk assessment you carry out should cover the following points:

  • Identification of hazards such as sources of ignition, fuel, and oxygen
  • Identification of those that would be at risk during a fire
  • Removal of fire hazards
  • Introduction of equipment which can prevent and detect fires

A fire risk assessment isn’t something you should simply do once. You should review the fire risk associated with your rental property on an annual basis.

Furnishings

If your rental property is offered with partial or full furnishing, you will need to consider if the furniture you use meets fire safety regulations. All of the upholstered furnishings you use in your rental property must be made using fire-resistant materials. When purchasing new furniture, you should check that it has a label which says that it complies with the Furniture and Furnishings Act 1988. You must not remove this label once the furniture has been installed in the property. The only upholstered items of furniture which do not need to be made of fire resistant material are vintage pieces which were manufactured before 1950.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

From 1st October 2015, all private landlords have been required to install at least one smoke alarm on each storey of their rental properties. If your rental property has a wood burning stove, or another solid fuel burning appliance such as a coal fire, you must install a carbon monoxide alarm in the same room. At the start of each tenancy, you or an agent should visit the property to check that the smoke alarms are in good working order. You should also make each tenant aware of the fact that they need to carry out regular tests to check that the smoke alarms work.

Because you cannot rely on your tenants to make sure that the batteries in the smoke alarms are charged, you may wish to consider using long-life batteries which have a 10-year lifespan. Another alternative is to install a smoke alarm system which is wired into the mains power supply. Any new build property will require that smoke alarms be connected to each other using a cable or wireless technology so if one smoke alarm is triggered, all of the alarms will sound.

By following the advice outlined above, you can make sure that the tenants in your rental property are safe from the risk of fire.

MEES (The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard): What It Means For Landlords

In April 2018, new legislation will come into force which will set a new minimum energy efficiency standard for rental properties. We've put together a guide to the potential impact of the new legal standard on landlords.

The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES)

The MEES was introduced in March 2015 and originated in the Energy Act 2011. From April 1st, 2018, landlords who are covered by the MEES legislation must not grant or renew tenancies on properties which do not have a minimum energy performance certificate rating (EPC) of E, unless an exemption is registered and approved.

Why is the MEES legislation being introduced?

The UK government has identified the built environment as a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. It is estimated that 18% of residential properties have an energy performance rating of F or G. The MEES legislation will help to reduce the environmental impact of these properties.

Exemption 1: The ‘golden rule’

If an independent energy contractor inspects the property and judges that every modification or improvement relevant to energy efficiency has been made, or that improvements which could be made would not have paid for themselves within seven years from the date of installation, you will be eligible for an exemption.

Exemption 2: Devaluation

If a surveyor examines the property and judges that the changes required to improve the energy efficiency of the building would devalue the market price of the building by 5% or more, you will be able to register an exemption.

Exemption 3: Consent

If consent for work which would improve the energy efficiency of the building has been refused by a third party, such as the local planning authority, you will be deemed exempt.

Any exemptions must be registered on the PRS Exemptions Register from 1st April 2018. If you fail to comply with MEES regulations and you do not register an exemption you may face a financial penalty, so you should take action now.

Right to Rent - What you need to know

From the 1st February 2016, all Landlords must not allow any adult to occupy a property as their only or main home by creating a tenancy agreement unless they have the 'right to rent' in the UK. This is defined as someone who is the following:

  • a British citizen  
  • a European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss national
  • has a Right to Rent in the UK e.g has a valid visa which expires after the proposed tenancy end date. 

This responsibily falls on all landlords who are renting privately, have a lodger, sub letting a property, or are an agent appointed by the landlord. These checks must be carried out prior to signing any proposed tenancy. 

For our clients, landlords who choose to use our 'Let Only' or 'Fully Managed' service, will automatically have these checks carried out and appropriate measures put in place to ensure they have complied with the new laws. We'll check and verify passports from for all tenants and retain a copy on file for your records. 

Changes to Section 21 Notices

 

As part of the deregulation Act 2015, there are a number of other important changes which all take effect from the 1st October 2015 specifically in the restrictions on serving Section 21 Notices. These restrictions however only affect tenancies created on or after 1st October 2015. All remaining assured shorthold tenancies in England will be swept under the new rulers on 1st October 2018.

The changes

  • The document previously used for Section 21 Notices will no longer be valid and a new template notice will have to be used.
  • Section 21 Notices now cannot be issued in the first 4 months of a tenancy.
  • In the event that a tenant has paid an amount of rent in advance and a Section 21 Notice requires them to leave during the period paid for, the tenant is entitled to a refund of rent paid for the days they are not occupying the property.
  • Section 21 Notice will only be valid for 6 months from the date of issue.
  • For a Section 21 Notice to be valid, they must have provided tenants with the following at the start of the tenancy:
    • A Gas Safety Certificate (if required)
    • An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
    • The Department for communities and Local Government “How to Rent – The checklist for renting in England” which can be downloaded by clicking here

What we’re doing to make sure you’re covered

We’ve amended our tenancy information pack we provide to new tenants to include the required documentation as set out in this new legislation. We provide this document together with the tenancy agreement and inventory. As part of the check in process, prior to handing over any keys, we ask for all occupants’ signatures to verify they have received all the documents the landlord must legally provide. Then once you issue a Section 21 Notice, if its eligibility is brought into question, the signed tenancy information pack can prove the tenants have received the necessary documentation.