Health and safety in the private rental sector

October 29, 2012

Landlord Information

Here are a few frequently asked questions on the subject of health and safety for private landlords.

What are my obligations under the law? 

Space doesn’t permit a full discussion of the issues here and it is important to understand that there may be some variation depending upon the type of property you own and let.

What can be said is that, broadly speaking, you are legally obliged to maintain the property in a safe condition for occupation by your tenants.

You may be able to find a slightly more detailed overview on the government’s own website*.

Note that the penalties for failing to do so may be severe.

If I meet the requirements of the law, is that it?

In terms of your legal liabilities, then yes.

Remember though that you may be under three other forms of obligation:

  • your local authorities;
  • your mortgage provider;
  • your insurance provider.

You may need to be absolutely clear that you are conforming with the individual requirements of these bodies if you are not to run the risk of, for example, finding yourself in breach of contract with your mortgage provider.

If you have something like cheap property portfolio insurance or simply an individual policy, you should be clear that you understand the health and safety conditions that may be contained within the policy and comply with them.

Can I make it my tenants’ responsibility to keep the property safe for habitation?

No. As a point of law, you cannot pass your legal obligations on to a third party through any form of rental agreement or other contract.

What you are perfectly entitled to do is to include in your tenancy agreement, conditions relating to the tenant’s obligations to use things such as gas equipment safely and in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Of course, in order to do so you will need to make available to them all copies of relevant operating instructions.

If they have failed to comply and are found to (e.g.) have been illegally tampering with the gas supply, then they may have legal liability for problems arising.

If you are in any doubt whatsoever as to your legal liabilities and responsibilities in terms of maintaining a safe property, you should seek specialist advice.




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