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Landlords Guide

presenting_01Presenting a Property to Let

Whether you are looking to let your own home, or have an investment property to let, it is important to ensure the property is presented in good order throughout. This will help to attract a good quality tenant and maximise the potential rental income.

Ideally, a property should be well decorated throughout and we suggest neutral colours such as magnolia or cream. Kitchens and bathrooms should be modern and well equipped. The following are generally expected to be provided:

  • Carpets & curtains in neutral or muted colours
  • Light fittings complete with working bulbs
  • TV aerial
  • Telephone line
  • Kitchen appliances such as fridge, cooker and washing machine
  • Bathroom with shower attachment or shower unit
  • Shower rail & curtain or shower screen
  • Bathroom cabinet, towel rail, mirror and toilet roll holder
  • Dustbin
  • Instruction Booklets for all appliances
  • At least two sets of keys

It would be helpful to a tenant to supply an information pack to contain such details as:

  • Dustbin collection day
  • Parking arrangements, identifying allocated garage/parking or visitors spaces
  • Location of meters
  • Any shared communal areas, ie, location of dustbins, or clothes drying area
  • Copies of any appliance warranties/service contracts
  • Utility, telephone and television service providers

We recommend that a property, including the windows and carpets, are professionally cleaned, prior to the commencement of a tenancy. The garden should also be left in good seasonal order and be well maintained. If a garage is available to use, this should be left empty and secure.

If letting a property on a furnished basis, the property should be uncluttered and personal items such as ornaments, books, etc, should be removed. All soft furnishings must also comply with safety regulations.

The main items generally required would be:

  • Sofas
  • Dining table and chairs
  • Kitchen equipment
  • Iron & ironing board
  • Hoover
  • Beds
  • Bedside tables
  • Wardrobes (if not fitted)
  • Lawnmower & basic garden tools

We will be happy to advise you further, regarding the presentation of your property.


 

THE LANDLORDS GUIDE TO THE GAS SAFETY REGULATIONS 1998

presenting_02The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 came into force on 31st October 1998 consolidating the three previous sets of regulations and making some additional changes. The regulations contain a number of general provisions relating to the supply and installation of gas appliances and equipment, but there are specific provisions relating to Landlords.

Who must comply?

Any Landlord letting property on a lease of less than seven years must comply with the regulations. This will include assured and assured shorthold tenancies, and regulated tenancies both for a fixed period and periodic. The regulations apply to gas appliances owned by the Landlord and any gas appliance or installation pipe work which directly, or indirectly, serve the property. The regulations initially came into force in October 1994 but have been strengthened by amendments in April and October, 1996 and finally by the consolidation in 1998.

What are the requirements?

The Landlord must ensure that any gas fittings and flues which serve the gas fittings of tenanted premises must be maintained in a safe condition.
Every appliance and flue must be checked for safety within twelve months of installation, and afterwards at intervals of not less than twelve months since the last safety check.
All work carried out to gas fittings or any safety checks must be done by a suitably qualified installer, currently a Gas Safe registered installer.
Landlords must keep records for a period of two years from the date of each check and must make available upon request the original record or a copy of it.
Landlords must give every new tenant at the commencement of the tenancy a copy of the last available record of the safety check.
If the safety check is renewed during the period of the tenancy the Landlord must give every tenant a copy of the safety record within twenty-eight days of the safety check being due to be carried out.
Any room occupied for sleeping accommodation must not contain a gas fitting unless it is a room sealed appliance.
The Landlord should ensure that instructions are available at the premises for all gas appliances and fittings.

Ventilation:

All gas appliances require adequate ventilation in order to ensure correct working and safety. The Landlord must ensure that adequate ventilation is provided at the property and that care has been taken not to block any ventilation duct.

What action is required?

Ensure instruction books are available at the property for all gas appliances.
Get all gas appliances checked by a Gas Safe registered installer prior to letting the property.
Keep all records of the annual maintenance inspections and of any remedial or other work carried out to the appliances.
Make sure that the annual inspection check is carried out on an annual basis and that the appliances and ventilation are reviewed regularly to make sure that they are in good working order.

What happens if I fail to comply?

The maximum penalty for non-compliance with the regulations is £5000 and/or six months imprisonment. However, the Landlord should be aware that if there is a fatality he may face prosecution for manslaughter.


 

THE ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT (SAFETY REGULATIONS)presenting_03

The Electrical Equipment Safety Regulations and the Plugs and Sockets Safety Regulations require that all electrical appliances supplied must be safe. This will include an appropriately fixed and fitted plug on the appliance. The equipment should either have instructions shown on the appliance or should have an instruction book supplied.
Unlike the Gas Safety Regulations there is no legal requirement to have the electrical appliances checked on an annual basis. However, in order to comply with the regulations it is imperative that the Landlord has appropriate checks and safe guards carried out.

What are the legal requirements?

All the appliances supplied in a property after 1st January 1997 must be marked with the appropriate CE symbol.
Safety – all electrical appliances must be safe. This applies to items of both alternate and direct current which means the Landlord will have to ensure that such appliances as kettles, toasters, irons and television sets are safe as well as fixed appliances such as electric cookers and immersion heaters. Safety includes the lead.
Instruction books – manufactures’ instruction manuals should be provided for each appliance supplied at the premises. The instructions can either be shown on the appliance, or an instruction book can be supplied. This will help to ensure the safety of the tenant.
Plugs – all plugs must have a safety sheath, be fitted with the correct fuse and appropriately fitted and fixed to the appliance.

What happens if I fail to comply?

The maximum penalty for non-compliance with the regulations £5,000.00 and /or three months imprisonment if there is a risk of fire to the property or injury or death to an animal. If the risk is to the life of a human being, the penalty may be up to twelve months imprisonment.

What should be tested?

The Landlord should have all portable and fixed electrical appliances at the property tested. The regulations apply to any electrical equipment between 50 and 1000 volts A.C and 75 and 1500 Volts D.C. This will include:

  • Kettle
  • Toaster
  • Iron
  • Television Set
  • Electrical Cooker
  • Immersion Heater
  • Wall mounted Electric Heaters

The Landlord also has a statutory duty to maintain the mains wiring to the property. It is recommended that the mains wiring is checked prior to the initial tenancy and again at least every five years in a domestic environment.

What should I do?

The Landlord should arrange to have a safety check carried out by a suitably qualified tradesperson prior to the commencement of the first tenancy and annually thereafter for PAT testing. Fixed installations should also be checked for safety prior to a tenancy commencing and then at five to ten yearly intervals thereafter.
Records should be kept of all appliances tested and checks carried out. Any remedial work carried out to appliances should also be noted.


 

A LANDLORDS GUIDE TO THE FURNITURE & FURNISHINGS (FIRE) SAFETY REGULATIONS

presenting_04

The Regulations concerning furniture in rented property have been tightened to apply to all accommodation available in the residential lettings market, as from 1st January 1997. Landlord’s letting residential property must ensure that all of their furniture is “fire resistant” to comply with the regulations, otherwise they will be committing a criminal offence. The penalty for this offence is a fine of up to £5,000 and/or six months imprisonment.

What does fire resistant mean?

“Fire resistant” means that the furniture must pass the “ignitability test” as well as the “cigarette test” and the “match test”. This means that all suitable furniture must have:

  • Covers which cannot be set alight by applying a lighted match to them
  • Covers which do not ignite if a smouldering cigarette is applied
  • Filling materials which pass an ignitability test
  • Permanent labelling proving that the item complies with the regulations

The filling must comply with the regulations as well as the covers, because it is the toxic fumes from the fillings, which are the cause of death.
Any furniture manufactured prior to 1st January 1950 need not comply with the regulations, as the toxic substances were not used in manufacture prior to that date. Period or antique furniture is therefore exempt.

What furniture must comply?

All upholstered furniture must comply with the regulations. These include:

  • Three piece suites, armchairs and sofas
  • Beds, headboards, mattresses, divans and bed bases
  • Sofa beds, futons and other convertible furniture
  • Nursery and children's furniture
  • Loose, stretch and fitted covers for furniture
  • Scatter cushions and seat pads
  • Pillows
  • Garden furniture suitable for use in a dwelling
The regulations do not apply to:
  • Bed clothes including duvets
  • Loose covers for mattresses
  • Carpets or curtains
  • Furniture manufactured before 1st January 1950

How can the Landlord tell the furniture complies?

The correct method of displaying compliance is to check that a permanent label is present on all items of furniture. This will apply to new or second hand furniture. Landlords should always check that an item of furniture has a permanent label before making a purchase, beds and padded bases rarely carry a label, but if the item complies with BS7177, it should meet the required standard.
The trading standards department can give guidance, in case of doubt.

Can the Regulations be avoided?
No! It is an offence to either:

  • Give the furniture to the tenant
  • Sell the furniture to the tenant
  • Obtain an indemnity from the tenant that they do not mind the furniture does not comply
  • To store the furniture so that the tenant can put it back in the premises
  • To leave the items off the inventory inferring that they do not exist

What action should the Landlord take?

Do not buy or provide any furniture for a residential letting that does not comply with the regulations. Check that all items carry a permanent label.
Keep all receipts and invoices denoting purchase and if a label becomes detached keep it in a safe place in case it is necessary to prove to the agent, the tenant, or other party that the furniture did comply with the regulations.
Ensure that the permanent labels are noted on the inventory.

Further Information

Should you require further information regarding the Gas, Electric or Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) Safety Regulations we recommend you approach:
The Lettings Agent
Trading Standards Office
Environment Health Office
Health and Safety Executive
The Gas Safety action line which can be contacted on 0800 300 363
Obtain a copy of the Guide to the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations published by the department of trade and industry.

The above guides are intended to provide a summary of the regulations to the landlord it is not an authoritative interpretation of the regulations, which is a matter for the courts.