Safe as Houses: 4 Issues to Consider for Home Safety

Safe as Houses: 4 Issues to Consider for Home Safety

The importance of home safety is a no-brainer. While tenants have a responsibility to be mindful of how they treat the property, landlords have a responsibility in making sure their properties are safe and habitable, thus preventing accidents and protecting the well-being of occupants. Below we explore some of the main issues to be aware of, and what landlords can do to minimise hazards.

Gas Safety

  • An annual gas safety check should be carried out on each gas appliance/flue. Gas appliances should be checked only by a Gas Safe-registered engineer, and a record of safety checks should be kept and provided to prospective tenants before they move in. To find your nearest engineer and for more information please click here.
  • If the property has a solid-fuel (i.e. wood or coal) burning appliance then the room it is housed in will also require a carbon monoxide alarm. However, these provisions vary between the countries of the UK, so make sure you check what your requirements are depending on which region you let property in. For instance, in Scotland it is a requirement to have a carbon monoxide detector in all rooms with a solid-fuel burning appliance.

Fire Safety

  • Landlords are obligated to install smoke alarms in their properties and to make sure that they are in proper working order at the start of each new tenancy.
  • While considerations will vary depending on the size of the property, basic risk assessments should still be carried out and recorded, along with routine maintenance and servicing activity. Certain HMOs have additional requirements and the use of a fire safety logbook can be helpful.

Electrical Safety

  • Carry out a basic safety check of electrical installation and have the property inspected by a registered electrician. Ensure that any appliance provided to the tenants is properly tested (new appliances from propriety retailers can be assumed safe at purchase), and that they have at least a CE marking. A CE marking appears on products that are traded in the single market in the European Economic Area (EEA). In addition, it is good practice to increase the level of protection from shocks by the use of an RCD (residual current device). An RCD is a sensitive safety device that switches off electricity automatically if there is a fault.

Prevention of mould and condensation

  • Ensure that the property is well-insulated, gutters are clear, and that there are no cracks and cavities in walls or rooves.
  • Inspect the plumbing and be mindful that pipes do not leak or ‘sweat’ (i.e. become wet with condensation) and that fittings are secure and supply valves close properly.
  • Make sure that there is adequate ventilation for the shower and bathroom, and make sure that tiles are properly sealed and grouted.
  • Provide over-hob extractor fans to reduce steam from cooking appliances.

Of course, these 4 tips really only scratch the surface of home safety, with 29 categories of hazard being considered under the statutory Housing Health & Rating System (HHSRS). It’s important that landlords take the time to familiarise themselves with the issues, conduct research and take the proper precautions.

The NLA offers a one-day course on home safety and the letting of safe homes, as well as a course for those wishing to carry out safety checks on portable electrical appliances. In addition, the NLA offers a variety of resources to help landlords make their properties safer, from a network of recognised suppliers, alarms, testing equipment and log books.

3 thoughts on “Safe as Houses: 4 Issues to Consider for Home Safety

  1. There are two points which are misleading – and I keep seeing these misleading statements again and again from people who should know better.

    > A CE marking appears on products that are traded in the single market in the European Economic Area
    Err, not quite true. It *should* be on all products but I bet you’ll find plenty of stuff available without the mark, or from “questionable” import routes where the CE could just as well stand for Caveat Emptor or Chinese Export. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of equipment which changes specification (for cheaper manufacture) between the samples sent to the customer for inspection (and possibly testing) and when full manufacture starts. A common example is plug in power supplies which can often be found to have space on the circuit board for filtering components (to avoid interference and meet standards) – but without the components ever having been fitted.
    The best defence against such “dodgy tat” is to stick with reputable wholesalers and retailers. Even the best of them still get caught out, but at least you can hold up your receipt and show that you took reasonable precautions. Buy from the various online marketplaces (unless still sticking to reputable retailers) and you are on your own and will have to take full responsibility for the safety and standards compliance of what you buy.

    > An RCD is a sensitive safety device that switches off electricity automatically if there is a fault.
    No. An RCD will protect against **SOME** types of fault. it will not operate for all faults, and it will absolutely not prevent electric shocks.
    That said, the protection offered by an RCD is very significant and it would be wise to have all circuits protected by them – my preference is to use RCBOs so each circuit has it’s own RCD but this does add significantly to the cost. But do not be lulled into a false sense of safety because there are several fault modes where an RCD will not protect you from shock or your property from fire.

  2. I thought when I join the NLA that my annual fee was to cover comprehensive information and support from the NLA, I am disappointed that many items are charged for extra’s, for instance if there are 29 sources of hazard that should be considered, shouldn’t the NLA publish a paper, not offer a course, which they are certain to charge for.
    Likewise why are we not given advise regarding to incorporate or not, and how to minimise our tax and inheritance tax bills, instead they are charged courses.

    1. Hi Rob

      I am sorry to read that you do not feel that you have received the value you expected from NLA membership.

      We do endeavour to provide a comprehensive package of support for landlords as part of the annual membership – although there are limits to what we can practically (and in some cases legally) provide at present.

      Picking up on some of your specific points; support and training materials concerning all of the HHSRS hazards is available (for no extra charge) online as part of our Online Library resource (http://www.landlords.org.uk/library/subjects). In fact there is an entire module on the hazard rating system.

      Likewise, information is also provided concerning tax and financial arrangements as part of teh same resource.

      Additionally, the NLA’s telephone advice line is available Mon-Fri to answer queries and provide support about on this and myriad other issues.There is no limit to amount of advice you may receive as part of your membership.

      As you mention, we do also offer more a selection of courses for those who wish to take their training further, or explore a specific interest. For these we charge an additional fee in order to cover our costs as we could not otherwise afford to offer the service.

      When it comes to advice on issues like the relative merits of incorporation and tax mitigation strategies, we try to provide as much guidance as possible.

      It may sound cliched, but there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to these very complicated decisions.

      The truth is that the best advice is usually to speak with a specialist able to take into account the specifics of each landlord’s business. As such we try to sign-post members to properly qualified and (where necessary) regulated third-parties. Where possible we introduce these experts to members at local meetings, where they are able to seek the advice they need at no extra cost.

      If you would like to discuss these matters in more detail or obtain specific advice, please feel free to give us a call.

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