The House of Lords recently heard a second reading of aproposed amendment to the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill which would give tenants the right to sue their landlord if their home is unfit for human habitation. The bill has cross-party support, as well as from industry bodies including the Residential Landlords Association.
We support any changes that help to drive up standards in our sector. Tenants should have the right to live in safe homes that are appropriately maintained - and as demand for rented homes increases, there should be no driving down of standards. But just what are your responsibilities when it comes to the safety of your tenants?
You have an obligation to upkeep the structure and exterior of your properties. You are also required to ensure the property
has running water, heating and sanitation facilities; and you must repair these if they fail.
You are also required to take reasonable steps to prevent Legionnaires’ disease. Legionella is caused when water in cold or hot water tanks becomes contaminated; and when small droplets of the water are inhaled leading to the risk of a fatal form of pneumonia. The risk of Legionella is present in all homes; however, landlords have a responsibility to risk assess the likelihood that a tenant can catch Legionnaires’ disease and take any necessary preventative action. This can include fitting a tight-fitting lid to cold water tanks and setting the temperature of hot water cylinders to 60oC.
Tenants also have a responsibility to reduce the risk of Legionella by regularly cleaning the shower-head using disinfectant. This is because showers create and disperse water droplets which can be inhaled. The risks are low, as showers are typically used regularly, however clean showerheads help reduce this risk further. Landlords should also take steps to prevent water from stagnating, which is a particular risk when properties are empty for an extended period.
Fire and Carbon Dioxide
Since 2015, all rented properties must have a smoke detector fitted on every floor of the property. Additionally, if there are any rooms with a solid fuel burning appliance – such as a wood burning stove or a log fire – then that room must have a carbon monoxide monitor.
All gas appliances need to be checked and serviced by a suitably qualified gas engineer each year. An annual service of your boiler can also help to prevent the boiler breaking down and an emergency plumber having to be called.
House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO)
Do bear in mind that there are additional requirements for HMO’s. It’s also worth reminding you that the definition of an HMO was changed in October meaning more landlords areimpacted.
This isn’t an extensive list of your requirements as a landlord, however thankfully, where a landlord selects our fully managed service, we look after many of these requirements for you.