How can landlords make sure their properties are safe? From electrical installation condition reports to structure surveys

In News by Martina

To be a great landlord, you must ensure that your rental properties are safe and comfortable for your tenants. Whether you own one property or ten, protecting your tenants should be at the top of your list of priorities. It’s important to remember that your properties are your responsibility; even if your tenants have lived under the same roof for years, you are still obliged to make sure your property is safe. To help you do so, we’ve put together a checklist of services, inspections and general tasks you must take care of to ensure that your properties are liveable. From electrical installation condition reports to structural surveys, make sure you don’t forget the following:

1. Commission a structural survey

Before you purchase a new house to rent out to tenants, it’s important to commission a structural survey. This is essential for all new house buyers, but it’s particularly important if you plan to let out the property. The last thing you want is for tenants to complain of problems such as woodworm, asbestos or damp – this will only make life more stressful for both of you. There may also be building defects and subsidence which could pose a threat to your tenants.

With a structural survey, you can identify these issues before deciding whether or not to purchase the property. A chartered surveyor will compile a comprehensive report following the inspection and you can weigh up the costs of purchasing the property or looking elsewhere.

You should also consider a structural survey if you’ve recently renovated your rental property. This will give you and your tenants peace of mind that the property is safe and give you the chance to rectify damage if it’s necessary.

2. Install home security solutions

Home security solutions are very important in rental properties. Your tenants won’t have the luxury of putting their own home security measures in place (such as sturdy door locks or alarms), so you’ll need to take care of this for them. Everyone wants to feel safe at home, and if your rental properties don’t have the security measures required, your tenants are likely to feel uneasy. A lack of security measures will also make your property vulnerable to burglary, vandalism and other crimes, which is something no landlord wants!

As a minimum, your rental properties should have sturdy door locks, window locks and burglar alarms. To make your properties even safer, you might also consider installing outdoor lighting, CCTV cameras and a key box. Installing home security measures will protect your tenants and your property, so make sure these don’t fall short.

3. Get an annual gas safety check

Gas safety inspections are one of the most important checks for landlords to have conducted. It’s a legal requirement for landlords to have an up-to-date CP12 certificate (otherwise known as a Landlords’ Gas Safety certificate), which requires having all gas appliances and flues in a rental property checked annually. The inspection, which must be carried out by a Gas Safe-registered engineer, helps to minimise the risk of gas-related incidents, such as carbon monoxide leaks and fires caused by faulty boilers.

Following the inspection, you must provide your tenants with a copy of the CP12 certificate within 28 days of it being issued. If you have new tenants moving in, you should provide them with a copy of the certificate beforehand or when they move into the property.

As a landlord, making sure you follow the regulations set out by the HSE for gas safety is crucial. Failing to have your rental properties’ gas appliances inspected by an accredited engineer could put your tenants at risk and see you face legal action. You should also install a carbon monoxide alarm in every room containing a solid fuel-burning appliance.

4. Hire NICEIC-accredited electrical contractors for inspections and installations

When it comes to electrical safety in rented properties, landlords have lots of responsibility. Landlords must ensure that all electrical appliances are functioning properly and are safe for use. This means making sure you only hire NICEIC-accredited electricians for all electrical services, whether it’s fitting a new light installation or rewiring a property.

Additionally, you must also commission a PAT test. PAT testing is designed to check the safety of all movable appliances within a rental property (such as refrigerators and televisions supplied by the landlord) and must be carried out annually by qualified contractors.

All landlords must also commission an Electrical Installation Condition Report at least every five years, although it’s recommended that you have one carried out every time a tenancy changes. An Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) is supplied following a comprehensive inspection, whereby electrical contractors will inspect the property’s wiring for signs of wear and tear or significant damage. Making sure you commission an electrical safety inspection is a crucial part of staying compliant and protecting your tenants, so make this a key priority for all residential lettings.

5. Put fire safety measures in place

Fire safety measures are essential in every rental property. Your property should be designed and furnished in such a way that prevents the spread of fire, and must also be fitted with the equipment necessary to alert tenants to the presence of fire. This includes installing a smoke alarm on every floor of the property and testing it regularly to ensure it is functioning properly. If you own an HMO property, you should also supply fire extinguishers.

When furnishing the property, you must make sure that all pieces of furniture and soft furnishings (including curtains and carpets) are fire safe. Check this before purchasing or installing any new item of furniture in the property, whether it’s a bed or a kitchen table.

You must also ensure that your tenants have access to fire escape routes. Make sure your tenants are aware of their fire escape routes when moving into the property, and remind them to keep the routes clear throughout the tenancy.

6. Damp-proof the property

Living in a property with damp isn’t a pleasant experience at all. Not only that, but living in a building with damp and mould-related issues can have an impact on our health. With this in mind, commit to damp proofing your rental properties to create a safe and comfortable living environment for your tenants. There are many ways to do this, from installing extractor fans in the bathroom to taking care of all roof repairs as soon as possible.

If your tenants have reported issues with damp, consider commissioning a damp survey. This will help you identify the root of the issue and put measures in place to treat the damp (and prevent future problems from developing).

7. Communicate with your tenants regularly

Here we’ve detailed six of the most important safety and security measures to implement in rental properties. As a landlord, you need to ensure that all rental homes are structurally sound, secure, gas safe, electrically safe, fire safe and free from damp. However, there are other risks that could threaten the safety and security of your tenants.

For instance, without the right maintenance, your rental properties could become infested with rats or other vermin. Or, if the stair lights blow and you don’t react quickly enough, your tenants may be at risk of trips and falls due to low lighting. With this in mind, it’s critical that you stay in contact with your tenants and respond to their queries quickly and appropriately.

Having a list of pre-approved contractors to hand can help you do this. If your tenants report a faulty boiler or a leaking pipe, you can send over a qualified plumber or boiler company without hesitation. This will help you stay compliant and most importantly, keep your tenants and your properties safe.

T.B. Mackay Energy Services: Electricians, plumbers, heating engineers and builders offering energy services in Edinburgh

Landlords, make life easier for yourself with help from T.B. Mackay Energy Services. Based in Edinburgh, we’re proud to offer a range of energy services throughout Scotland, including gas inspections, electrical installations, building and joinery assistance, plumbing services, central heating maintenance, and much more. Whatever you require, we’re a highly-qualified and experienced one-stop-shop for all your energy needs. We can help you keep your properties and tenants safe with our range of expert services, all available at highly competitive rates.

For more information about our range of services or to book in with one of our qualified contractors, get in touch with us at T.B. Mackay Energy Services today. We’re always happy to help.