Keeping Landlords And Lettings Safe

We’re pleased to pledge our support for Gas Safety Week. As well as this blog, we’ve produced a useful video outlining everything you need to consider when it comes to gas and fire safety.

Fire Safety

  • Fire risk assessments must take place in all areas of the property including the common areas of flats and HMOs.
  • Ensure there is an adequate means of escape within the property.
  • There is no legal requirement for landlords to provide fire blankets/extinguishers but in the event of a fire you’ll need to show you did everything you can to prevent a fire occurring.
  • Should you manage a HMO property, your local authority will arrange a risk assessment to take place.

Fire Doors

  • This risk assessment also extends to the examination of fire doors.
  • Should your property have a fire door, ensure it’s clearly labelled and visible.
  • In flats , the external door to a flat invariably should be the fire door.
  • Internal doors may well be fire doors depending on the size of the building.
  • Use the 5 step check to inspect your fire door.
  • If in doubt about the state of your fire door, always consult a professional.
  • Don’t just check the door, check the walls and surrounding frame.

Smoke Alarms

  • At least one smoke alarm must be installed on every storey of a property of which a room is used wholly or partially as living accommodation.
  • A carbon monoxide alarm must be installed in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g a coal fire, wood burning stove)

Installing The Alarm

  • Upon installation, the agent should write to the tenant to explain it’s a legal requirement to install the alarm and it’s for their own safety.
  • Agents should choose the most suitable alarms to install within the property whether this be hard wired or battery powered.
  • Heat detectors are not a replacement for smoke alarms.
  • Alarms can be placed anywhere within the property, however in most cases this should be fixed to the ceiling in a circulation space i.e hall/landing. A carbon monoxide alarm should be placed at head height either on a wall/shelf, approximately 1 to 3 metres away from a potential source of carbon monoxide.
  • It is recommended but not lawful, agents install carbon monoxide in all rooms with gas appliances that can emit carbon monoxide.
  • If the tenant shares the property with the agent/landlord/landlord’s family, the smoke alarm regulations do not apply. An agent or landlord is considered to be sharing if they’re sharing an amenity such as a kitchen or living room, this is not owner-occupied properties.

Testing Alarms

  • Agents must ensure these alarms are in full working order at the start of each new tenancy. The start being the date stipulated in the tenancy agreement.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when testing your alarms.
  • Should the alarm be mains interlinked, a 10-year battery or a cheap 9v battery, pressing the test button is sufficient assuming the alarm sounds correctly.
  • Should the alarm be a panel on the wall, a visual inspection alongside pressing the evacuate button for added comfort can be done. If you are competent, testing the alarm using a manual call point on the same zone as the relevant smoke alarm can be done.
  • Smoke spray can be used to test alarms if you are confident in carrying out this type of test, but is not a legal requirement.
  • Tenants should take responsibility for testing alarms, after the initial check at the start of the tenancy.
  • Should the tenant find the alarm is not working, they should notify the agent who should organise for a replacement of the batteries or alarm itself within 28 days.
  • Agents should ask the tenant to sign the inventory form to prove the alarms have been tested on the first day of the tenancy and the tenant is satisfied they are in working order.

Fire Safety In Wales

Fire safety guidance can now be found on the Rent Smart Wales website. The free online fire safety course has been launched by South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service and North Wales Fire and Rescue Service. The course is designed to help landlords and letting agents in Wales with every aspect of fire safety.

Gas Safety Checks

When it comes to gas safety, it’s vital every agent or landlord conducts a gas safety check. The check should be conducted on each and every property on an annual basis, with a qualified Gas Safe Register engineer. In order to find a qualified engineer, Gas Safe Register have created an official list of engineers, please click here to access it.

When the engineer arrives it’s important to ensure you’re aware of their valid ID. All engineers at Gas Safe Register carry an ID card with a licence number. As well as checking the ID, checking whether the engineer is qualified for the work he’s about to carry out is just as important. This will be displayed on the back of their ID card.

Once a check’s been completed it’s vital you as a landlord or letting agent keep a record of it for at least 2 years. This record should be kept in the form a gas safe record, given to you by the engineer. If you have a number of properties, to avoid losing the documentation, we recommended using a form of letting agent software such as our Openview system. An example of a gas safe record can be found here. A copy must be given to your tenant(s), should they be new or existing. Existing tenants must receive this within 28 days of the check being completed.

Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarms

When it comes to fitting smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, it’s also your responsibility. If you’re in England, you’re responsible for installing smoke alarms on every floor of the property, whilst carbon monoxide detectors must be placed in high risk areas with a solid fuel heating system.

As well as installing alarms, you also need to ensure you correctly test them. This can be done by simply spraying canned smoke alarm tester spray in front of the alarm. Opting to just press the red button on the alarm is an insufficient way of testing. The correct spray can be bought here.

Provide Additional Help

Whilst doing all of the above is crucial, you as a landlord or letting agent can also provide your tenants with additional help. You could provide additional leaflets warning them about the dangers of gas safety. According to Gas Safe Register, if they notice any of the following, it’s important the property receives a gas safety service immediately:

  • “The gas appliance is not working properly
  • The appliance is burning with a lazy yellow flame rather than a crisp blue one
  • Black marks/stains are evident around the gas appliance
  • The pilot light keeps going out
  • There is increased condensation in the room”

Find out more about VTUK’s Openview property software, call us 0800 328 0460, email us or visit us.

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