A Westmorland and Furness Council Project

Advice For Landlords

When properties are well maintained, tenants are happier, healthier, and it helps reduce void periods. This also means that your income is more secure.

It’s worth self-assessing your properties annually. This will catch problems early, preventing a lot of disrepair, enabling you to future-proof your properties.

Landlord Responsibilities

There are many things you are legally responsible for when it comes to keeping your properties and tenants safe. As a brief guide, you need to:

For a more detailed guide, see also Renting out your property: Landlord responsibilities - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Energy Performance Certificates

If you are renting out a property, you need to have a valid energy performance certificate, otherwise known as an EPC, rated ‘E’ or above.

An EPC lets tenants and potential buyers know how energy efficient your property is. It gives them a general idea of how warm the property would be, and how much it would cost to heat, as it includes the property’s typical energy costs.

EPCs are valid for 10 years from the date they are issued. The scale runs from A (very efficient) to G (least efficient). The assessor will recommend how to improve efficiency of your property as part of the certificate.

Unless there is an EPC exemption in place, it is an offence not to provide a tenant with a valid EPC at the start of their tenancy. Not having a valid EPC at that point will mean that a Section 21 notice cannot be served to end an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.

You can find an assessor on the EPC Register to order an Energy Assessment Survey and receive an EPC.

If you do need to arrange an energy assessment, you must give your tenant at least 24 hours written notice before visiting the property, and your tenant must give their permission for the property visit (unless it is an emergency such as a fire or gas leak).

During housing inspections, Environmental Health Officers will check that the home has a valid EPC and the tenant has a copy. If there is no valid EPC, they will check to see if an exemption is in place.

Housing Health And Safety Rating System

Also known as HHSRS, this is how Environmental Health Officers inspect properties.  

It ensures properties are safe, healthy, and free from hazards. The system takes into account the inside and outside of a property, shared areas, and access paths.

A white ceiling with brown damp marks, indicating a leak from the floor above

Fire Safety

As a landlord, you need to ensure that your property is a minimal fire risk.

There must be a safe way for anyone to escape from the property if there is a fire.

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service offer free home fire safety checks and may fit free smoke detectors depending on your circumstances

Fire alarms need to be present and working. Exactly what you need and how many depends on the property type and tenancy, and may need a written fire risk assessment.

Your property must have at least one smoke alarm on every floor. Carbon monoxide alarms must be in working order in the same room as a combustion appliance (including gas or oil boilers, coal/gas fires and wood burning stoves)

On the day of a new tenancy, you must check that all alarms are working. It’s a legal requirement to keep records of when your property’s alarms are tested and repaired.

Any furnishings within the home need to meet fire regulations and are fire safe.

As part of fire safety, make sure a Gas Safe registered gas fitter checks any gas appliances every year (see also Gas Safety)

You also have to supply your tenant with the safety certificates at the start of their tenancy and renewal of an existing tenancy.

Fire safety is also a part of the Housing Health And Safety Rating System, which Environmental Health Officers use in housing inspections to determine how hazardous a property is.

Gas Safety

As a landlord, you are legally responsible for your tenants’ safety when it comes to gas safety.

Gas pipework, flues and appliances need to be safe, maintained, and repaired by a Gas Safe registered engineer. All gas appliances and flues must have a valid annual gas safety check.

You should also supply copies of the Landlord’s Gas Safety Record to your tenants before they move in, or within 28 days of the check.

See also Landlord Gas Responsibilities - GASSAFETYREGISTER.CO.UK (www.gassaferegister.co.uk)

Electrical Safety

Your property must have a safe electrical system, including sockets and light fittings. Your property’s electrical system has to be inspected and tested by someone qualified and competent, at least every 5 years.

You’ll receive a certificate from this inspection, known as an EICR.

It’s a legal requirement to provide a copy of the report to your tenants. For an existing tenant, give a copy within 28 days of the inspection. For new tenants, you need to give them a copy before they move in.

Prospective tenants may request an EICR, and you need to provide them with the certificate within 28 days of getting the request.

For the full list of guidance, see also Guide for landlords: electrical safety standards - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

See also Electrical Safety Inspections - NRLA.ORG.UK (www.nrla.org.uk)

How Can We Help?

If you have any questions about HHSRS, an inspection, or you're not clear on what the law requires of you to keep your properties and tenants safe, please don't hesitate to reach out to the Healthy Homes Team and someone will be in touch to help.

Contact Us