Health and Safety

NB this page contains some general legal information which is for guidance only and is not legal advice see - Disclaimer.

In the UK, all landlords, including live in landlords, must by law get a Gas Safety Certificate (CP12) for each gas appliance on the premises. This must be renewed each year. By law, a copy of the certificate must be given to any tenants or lodgers who live in the property.

Since 1 October 2015, all rental property, including just one room lodger lets, requires a smoke alarm on each floor where there is living accommodation (for example, a floor with only a hallway or landing with no rooms leading off it does not need a smoke alarm; neither does a loft only used for storage). If the property has a solid fuel appliance, such as an Aga cooker or open fire, the same legislation also mandates a carbon monoxide alarm for each room that has such an appliance.

A fire safety blanket in the kitchen, and carbon monoxide alarms if you have gas appliances, is not legally required but is a sensible precaution, especially in any kind of shared accommodation.

Googling "landlord gas safety cert" for your area should bring up a list of local firms who offer this service. If you live in the London area, I recommend Leinster Gas who do certificates starting from £35 for a property with just a gas boiler.

Check that an engineer you employ is on the Gas Safe Register (formerly CORGI).

If you are letting property in the UK (i.e. accepting rent, not simply allowing someone to stay on a goodwill basis,) even just a room (however small and modest), you are liable to prosecution if the premises doesn't have an up to date certificate for each gas appliance. NB - this applies to gas appliances (boilers, cookers, gas fires etc, but not individual radiators) on the whole premises, not just those in the lodger's room!

However, if you are letting out a room in a property that you rent from a landlord yourself, this will be your landlord's responsibility - but, as a lodger landlord, you must still ensure your own landlord does this and lets you have a copy of the certificate (which he/she should do by law anyway!).

Where the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended), which affects landlords who let under assured statutory tenancy (AST), is concerned, how this affects you as a resident landlord depends on the extent to which you're using your home as a letting business.

For example, if it's just one room that you've only ever let to one or two lodgers, you are unlikely to be affected, but if you let more than one room, and/or you have a regular contract with an organisation (for example a university or a company), you may then be subject to it. If you have two lodgers or more at any one time, your property may also be subject to licensing as a HMO, if it's more than three storeys, or even a smaller house or flat in many local authority areas.

Getting back to the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988, unfortunately, there is no absolute definition as to what constitutes a letting business with a resident landlord under that particular piece of legislation.

For this reason, it is best to err on the side of caution and assume you're subject to the legislation, which is in any case best practice.

The legislation stipulates that the bed, mattress, pillows, cushions and any chairs or sofas in the lodger's area must comply, as set out in the next paragraph. However, this doesn't include curtains, carpets or sheets, blankets, bed covers and duvets, or anything dating from before 1950.

If any of the above items in the lodger's room date from between 1950 and 1988, or don't have a fire safety label (and you would be surprised at the number of new furnishings that don't bear these labels) you should replace them with items bought in the UK after 1988. Provided anything bought in the UK after 1988 bears a fire safety label, you will be covered under the Act.

To ensure you're covered in the event of a claim from a lodger, take photos of the furniture, with a close up of the safety label, marked with a description of the item and where it is in the house - which you and the lodger then sign after the lodger has been shown the furnishings, or get an inventory done.

Aside from this, provided the person you rent to is a licencee (normally a lodger renting a bedroom and sharing bathroom and kitchen with the landlord), as a resident landlord you are not subject to the Repairing Obligations that landlords who let under an AST are subject to, but you are still subject to the Housing Health and Safety Rating System under the Housing Act 2004, as well as, of course, the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 which stipulates that a space you occupy and control must be as free from hazards as is reasonably possible. It therefore goes without saying that your property should be what "a reasonable person" would describe as safe, clean, adequately furnished, heated, ventilated and insulated.

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