All goods supplied as part of a let of furnished residential accommodation must be safe, including gas installations and appliances
Note: although the United Kingdom has left the European Union, certain pieces of legislation (formally known as 'retained EU law') will still apply until such time as they are replaced by new UK legislation; this means that you will still see references to EU regulations in our guidance.
This guidance is for England, Scotland and Wales
Broadly speaking, the law requires that goods are safe when they are supplied, including in rented accommodation.
Gas installations, appliances and flues must be checked by a Gas Safe-registered person every 12 months and a record of the check must be made available to tenants.
Specific checks are not normally required by law for other products - such as furniture and glazing - but you still have to ensure they are safe under the law, and the best way to do that is to get them tested.
New gas and electrical equipment must be UKCA marked (see 'Product safety: due diligence' for more information on UKCA, UKNI and CE marks).
Who does the law apply to?
Anyone who lets residential furnished accommodation (such as houses, flats, bedsits, holiday homes, caravans and boats) as a business activity. This includes letting agents, estate agents and private landlords. Landlords are not the only people who may be liable if goods supplied with the tenancy are not of the standard required by law.
What does the law require?
In general terms, the law requires that goods are safe when they are supplied. This includes any goods supplied as part of a tenancy agreement or in let accommodation. Special safety rules apply to certain types of goods, and some of the main ones are detailed below.
The supply of goods can occur in any of the following situations:
Do I have to carry out specific safety checks?
You are responsible for thesafety of the goods you supply and it is therefore advisable that you carry out appropriate checks on all the goods in theproperty.
In particular, the Gas Safety (Installationand Use) Regulations 1998 contain requirementsrelating to theinstallationand use of gas appliances. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE)enforces these and further information can be obtained by contacting the HSE Gas Safety Advice Line on 0800 300363.
It is a legal requirement to have carbon monoxide detectors in all rooms with solid fuel appliances, and landlords are also encouraged to ensure that working carbon monoxide detectors are installed in all rooms with gas installations.
Landlords are required to have yearly checks carried out on gas installations and flues by aGas Safe-registered person. Landlords can determine thedate when thenext check is due and, in certain circumstances, can extend this to bring all appliances and flues into alignment. You must keep the records (Gas Safe certificates) of these checks.
Sections 13(4) and 19B(4) of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 make it compulsory for agencies and private landlords in Scotland to ensure that a competentelectrician inspects and testselectrical installations, fixtures and fitted appliances at least every five years. In accordance with the electrical safety standards in thePrivate Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020, similar checks for electrical installations are also required in England from 1 July 2020 for new tenancies, and from 1 April 2021 for existing tenancies.The local authorityhousing departments are the regulators for this legislation.
Where you do carry out checks, or where you have them done for you, you should keep records. These records, as a minimum, should identify what goods were checked, what checks were done (and the results), who did them and when they were done. A copy of the electrical checks, whereapplicable,hasto be given to the tenant within 28 days of the inspection. The landlord will need to retain a copy until the next inspection is due.
The law concerning gas safety checks is the same for holiday lettings as it is with longer-term residential lettings. However, the law concerning electrical checks applies differentlyfor holiday lettings. Nevertheless, electricalinstallations stillhave to be safe and such checks are still recommended. How frequently they should be repeated may be different for a holiday property than for a long-term residential let, depending on the volume of guests that you cater for.
Upholstered furniture included in lettings must comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988. These impose the same stringent standards to both new and second-hand furniture.
The Regulations apply to the following:
The safety provisions require that:
Furniture made before 1 January 1950 that has not been modified is excluded from the controls. Bedding, carpets and curtains are also excluded.
HOW TO TELL WHETHER FURNITURE COMPLIES
You should check to see that a permanent label is present as this is the best way to show compliance. Most furniture should have a label headed 'CARELESSNESS CAUSES FIRE' that provides at least the following information:
Permanent labels are usually sewn orstapledto the furniture and they can usually be found either under the main seat cushion or on the base of the furniture.
Mattresses and bed bases are not required to bear this type of label. However, compliance with the ignitability tests may be shown by a label stating compliance with British Standard BS 7177: Specification for resistance to ignition of mattresses, mattress pads, divans and bed bases. This label has a blue border with white lettering and black cigarette and flame symbols.
Items not bearing any labelling may not conform to the Regulations, and you are advised not to include them in any letting until you have obtained evidence that they comply (for example, from the manufacturer or original supplier).
Any new electrical equipment that is being fitted and supplied in accommodation should comply with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016 and be UKCA-marked.
If the equipment is to be wired directly into the electrical installation of a property, then this should be carried out by a suitably qualified engineer.
If the equipment is still in the property when it is let to a subsequent tenant, it is deemed to be second-hand and the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 will apply instead. These Regulations require that all electrical equipment supplied with the accommodation must be safe.If it complies with an acceptable standard, such as a British / European standard, it will normally meet safety requirements.
These safety requirements cover:
WIRING COLOUR CODES
The wires of a three-core mains lead are coloured as follows:
If you need to change a plug, lead or other connection, have it checked by an electrician. Incorrect wiring may cause electrocution or fire.
PLUGS AND SOCKETS
All electrical appliances provided with the let have to be correctly fitted with an approved plug - one complying with BS 1363: 13 A plugs, socket-outlets, adaptors and connection units - with sleeved pins. All plugs should carry the name and reference number of the approved body, normally BSI (British Standards Institution) or ASTA (ASTA Diamond Mark, run by Intertek). The plug does not have to be moulded on but it must have a cord grip to secure the lead going into the plug and have the correct fuse for the appliance.
All sockets (for example, on mains extension leads) adaptors and similar devices must meet British or European standards.
The distance between the bars and the strength of the guard are laid down in British standards.
The fireguard is satisfactory if any vertical bars are 5 mm or less apart. Otherwise, the guard must not have an opening with either:
We advise you not to supply used electric blankets as their history, usage and condition may be unknown.
HOW TO TELL WHETHER ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT COMPLIES
You must take all reasonable precautions to ensure that electrical equipment is safe and correctly labelled andsupplied with adequate instructions for safe use.
Any new gas appliances being fitted into accommodation should comply with Regulation(EU) 2016/426 on appliances burning gaseous fuels and be UKCA-marked.
They should also be installed by a suitably qualified gas engineer. Trading standards services enforce this Regulation for new appliances. If the equipment is still in the property when it is let to a subsequent tenant, it is deemed to be second-hand and the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 willapply instead.
Local housing authorities enforce the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 that set out specific duties for landlords to ensure that the gas installations they supply aremaintained in a safe condition.
One way to ensure thatgas appliancesare safe is to check that they comply with relevant British / European standards. For example, the applicable standard for gas cookers is BS EN 30: Domestic cooking appliances burning gas. Cookersmust:
They must not have:
Any hob cover must shut off the gas supply, or the cover must have a warning label stating that it does not.
GAS AND OIL HEATER FIREGUARDS
The General Product Safety Regulations 2005 require all fireguards on gas fires and oil heaters to be safe. One method of ensuring this is by compliance to British standards or the European equivalent.
Oil heaters and used gas fires that do not satisfy specific design criteria involving the hearth and installation instructions must be fitted with a guard that either:
... unless it is not possible to pass a 12 mm diameter probe through the gap, or the gap is between vertical rods no greater than 5 mm apart. The guard must pass certain strength tests.
GAS CATALYTIC HEATERS
Gas catalytic heaters must not containunbonded asbestos.
The Oil Heaters (Safety) Regulations 1977 apply to paraffin heaters. Controls cover stability, flame extinction and labelling.
The Construction Products Regulations 2013 cover glazing. If you are buying replacement glazing, safety glass must be used in critical locations, as follows:
Small glass panes (with a smaller dimension up to 250 mm, and a total area up to 0.5 m2) do not need to be made of safety glass if they are thick enough (6 mm in most cases). However, if you are buying a replacement door, for example, with small panes, it is better to choose safety glass if it is available.
Other appliances and equipment
All equipment and items not covered by specific regulations must comply with the General Product Safety Regulations 2005. You must ensure that all items you supply with the accommodation are safe. This will include supplying warnings and instructions with the items, where they are necessary, for the safe use of the items.
You are advised to check all items at regular intervals to ensure that they are safe.
For more information on the work of trading standards services - and the possible consequences of not abiding by the law - please see 'Trading standards: powers, enforcement and penalties'.
Last reviewed / updated: February 2021
In this update
Information on the requirement to install carbon monoxide detectors added
This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.
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