Health and safety Gas safety |
It is estimated that, due to defective or incorrectly installed gas appliances and flues, almost 30 people die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning as per the Health and Safety Executive. A large number of people also suffer various ailments due to improper maintenance of these gas fittings and flues. It is for this reason that it is suggested that all the gas appliances and flues are serviced by CORGI-registered gas filters and are properly installed and maintained. The specific duties of the landlords regarding the maintenance and use of gas appliances, fittings and flues and their installation in rental properties are very clearly set out in The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. It is under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, that the landlords are liable to have more general responsibilities towards their tenants.
Responsibilities of the landlord
Landlords with leases under 7 years have certain responsibilities, under the laws and regulations of domestic rental properties:
- Making sure that each gas appliance and flue undergoes an annual safety check.
- Keeping at least a two year record of all the safety checks.
- Making sure that maintenance of all gas fittings and flues is done in a safe condition.
- Issuing to the tenants, a copy of the latest safety check, to any new tenants before they move in, or to presently residing tenants within 28 days of the check having taken place.
- Making sure of the fact that all installation, maintenance and safety checks are done by a CORGI-registered gas installer.
- Making sure that before any of the equipment is used again; all defects to any gas fitting and flues are brought to notice and immediately rectified.
The landlord however, under these laws and regulations, is not responsible for certain things such as:
- Any flues that are connected to personally owned gas appliances.
- All gas appliances that are personally owned by the tenant.
More information CORGI can be contacted to find a CORGI-registered gas fitter at: Tel: 0800 915 0480 Mon-Thu 9:00am-5.30pm, Friday 9.00am-5.00pm
It is the responsibility of the landlord to make sure that the total electrical systems as well as all the electrical appliances supplied by them are completely safe to use. These could include appliances like toasters, heaters, kettles cookers etc.
New safety rules
As on the 1st of January 2005, the new rules for electrical safety in houses came into effect in England and Wales. It is hereby mandatory to follow the new rules in the Building Regulations for people carrying out electrical work in any part of the house or adding new electrical circuits to any part of the property, from this date on. However there is a Competent Persons Scheme which can be followed, under which one can get their work carried out by a qualified electrician, as this works as an alternative.
Competent Person Scheme Using the members of this scheme has many benefits attached to it such as:
- Having people who are qualified to carry out electrical work.
- You shall get a certificate confirming that their work follows all new rules and regulations.
- Building Control charges will not have to be paid by you.
- All the new safety rules will be dealt for by them.
- There shall be an insurance backed guarantee for the complete work done by them and you shall have the freedom to take it.
- Under the circumstances that you are not satisfied with the work then you will have full access to a formal complaints procedure.
For Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), there are higher levels of fire safety regulations as compared to other residential properties, along with the landlords being required to observe certain safety measures for furniture and furnishings. Fire Regulations for HMOs (House in Multiple Occupations) Adequate fire precautions should be provided by the landlord of an HMO and it is required of him to make sure that they are maintained well.
These should be suitably present in accordance with the size of the property and number of residents, and should include some of the following:
- Suitable fire fighting equipment such as fire blankets and fire extinguishers. There should be present at least 1 fire extinguisher provided on every floor and should also be checked regularly. Also the presence of a minimum of 1 fire blanket in every shared kitchen is required.
- The presence of fire alarms, heat/smoke detectors and other fire warning systems is required. These are required to be placed all through the entire building, especially in high risk areas such as kitchens and in escape routes.
- There should be the presence of an escape route that is resistant to fire, smoke and fumes for long enough so that everybody can leave. These may be specially treated fire resistant internal stairs and corridors or could also be an external fire escape route. There should be fire resistant doors as well which lead to the escape routes and should preferably close automatically. All furniture and furnishings provided by the landlords should also be ensured as fire resistant.
Fire Regulations for other tenanted residential properties
In relation with other tenanted properties, the only specific fire regulations are those concerning furniture and furnishings. It is however the 'common law' duty of all the landlords to make sure that their entire properties are kept free from all health hazards and the safety of the tenants is made sure of.
Fire Regulations in all rented properties for furniture and furnishings
It is required in a rented property that all the provided upholstered furnishings are fire resistant. Upholstered furniture basically includes the following types:
- Beds, headboards and mattresses
- Cushions and seat pads
- Futons and sofa beds
- Armchairs and sofas
- Indoor used garden furniture
- Seat pads and cushions
- Nursery and children furniture
- Stretch and loose covers for all the furniture
There is a symbol on all fir resistant furniture that confirms the fact that it is fire resistant.
Smoking in rented properties
It is completely on the discretion of the landlords as to allow smoking in their properties or not. There would be a clause in the tenancy agreement stating this in case smoking is not allowed. This clause would be applicable to tenants and their guests alike. Sufficient smoke alarms however must be provided in all areas where smoking would be allowed if smoking is permitted by the landlord. There are additional regulations that are applied in HMOs: in all shared areas of HMOs, such as communal rooms, corridors and stairs, smoking is strictly not allowed as per the newly introduced smoke-free laws. It is required to display No Smoking signs in such areas.
Asbestos, a banned material, used for building purposes from the 1950s to the 1980s, is a potentially harmful substance. Asbestos may be a part of any building that was built before the year 2000. Asbestos is considered to be safe, as long as it is maintained in a good condition, as per the HSE (Health and Safety Executive). Asbestos can produce tiny dust particles if damaged and these if inhaled can have serious repercussions like being the causing factor for asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) have classified asbestos as a hazard.
Where could asbestos be present?
The asbestos may be found at any of the following places in the property:
- Sheds and garage roofs
- Fire blankets
- Rainwater fall pipes, eaves and gutters
- Bath panels
- Floor tiles
- Between floors and in partition walls where asbestos may be loosely packed.
- Central heating flues
- Storage heaters having insulation panels
- Linings for walls, doors and ceilings
The local authorities may be requested to test for the presence of asbestos, if the tenants or landlords suspect its presence. The testing will help find out the condition of the asbestos, if at all it is present. Duties of a landlord regarding asbestos In case there is any asbestos present in the property, then it is the legal responsibility of the landlord of the tenanted property, to manage any risk associated with its presence.
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