What safety certificates do landlords need to comply with landlords’ legal responsibilities? - Total Landlord Insurance

April 25, 2023
What safety certificates do landlords need to comply with landlords’ legal responsibilities? - Total Landlord Insurance

Wherever you live in the UK, as a landlord you have a legal obligation to make sure that your tenants have a home that is safe to live in and to comply with landlord regulations

There are two main safety certificates that residential landlords in England and Wales must have: a gas safety certificate and an electrical safety certificate. In Scotland and Northern Ireland regulations are similar but check their government websites for details.

What is a gas safety certificate?

The landlords’ gas safety certificate, sometimes known as the ‘CP12 – Landlord Gas Safety Record – LGSR’ is a legally required document that the Gas Safe Registered Engineer will provide following an annual gas safety inspection. 

The certificate details the checks carried out and declares all gas appliances and fittings within a property safe. A copy must be provided to the tenant when taking up a new tenancy and within 28 days of a new inspection.

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 (GSIUR) outline your duties as a landlord to make sure all gas appliances, fittings, chimneys and flues are safe and working efficiently. Our ultimate guide to gas safety and gas safety certificates also explains all you need to know in detail.

You can arrange for a gas safety check from 10 months after the last completed check without affecting the original expected expiry date. Appliances owned by tenants aren’t your direct responsibility, though any connecting flues are, unless they’re solely connected to the tenant’s own appliance.

For short-lets you should clearly display a copy of the gas safety record within the property and you must keep copies of gas check records until a further two checks have been carried out.

You need to maintain all pipework, appliances, chimneys, flues, boilers, gas fires, cookers and gas water heaters in safe working order by having them serviced regularly. Follow manufacturers’ guidelines for service intervals.

From 1 October 2022, it’s been a legal requirement to fit a Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarm (to British Standard EN 50291 with British or European Kitemark) in every habitable room of a rental property containing gas appliances - excluding cookers - and these must be tested and working on the day every new tenancy starts. For more information read our article, ‘Are you compliant with smoke and carbon monoxide regulations?

How do I get a gas safety certificate? 

Most local plumbers and heating engineers are qualified to perform the gas checks or you can check with the Gas Safe Register to locate a qualified engineer. 

Sometimes a tenant refuses access, and it’s important to know that if this happens you can’t enter without the tenant’s agreement, even though you are legally required to carry out a gas safety inspection. Our article, how to gain access for a landlord gas safety inspection explains what you should do in this situation. 

What is an electrical safety certificate?

Electrical safety certificates are known as The Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). Since 1 April 2021, these must be provided and renewed every five years for all UK rental properties. The legislation says that landlords must arrange for a ‘competent’ person - a qualified electrical engineer - to inspect the property’s electrical installation. 

The engineer will visually inspect the installation for damage and run electrical checks on the circuits, examine plugs and sockets in the property, light switches and fuse box and issue an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). 

The report will either declare the installation safe for continued use or recommend areas for improvement or where urgent repairs are needed.

Landlords must provide a copy of the EICR to existing tenants within 28 days of the inspection and to new tenants before they occupy the premises. If the report highlights a requirement for remedial action or further investigation, landlords must provide their tenants and the relevant local authority with written confirmation that the work has been carried out.

You are exposing yourself to significant risks if you don’t have an electrical safety certificate for your property. Read our separate article for more information about why you need a landlord electrical safety certificate

How do I get an EICR certificate? Most electrical contractors are qualified to carry out electrical safety checks, or you can contact the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contractors (NICEIC) to locate a qualified electrical engineer.

Portable appliance testing (PAT testing)

In addition to the five-year electrical checks, although this is not a legal requirement, the UK Government recommends that landlords arrange for an electrician to carry out regular portable appliance testing (PAT) and issue a PAT Certificate - a report detailing the test results - and apply labels to the appliances tested.

The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

Although not a safety certificate as such, landlords are obliged to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). These certificates show how energy efficient a property is based on a rating scale from ‘A’ being highly efficient to ‘G’ being the least energy efficient. 

Energy performance certificates remain valid for 10 years and must be issued before a rental property is marketed. It is currently illegal for a landlord or agent to rent out a domestic property with an EPC rating below “E” unless they have a valid exemption certificate. 

After a consultation process in December 2020, the government announced changes to the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) for England and Wales. The government has proposed that all rental properties will need an EPC rating of 'C' or above by 2028.

Legionella risk assessment

Legionella bacteria in domestic water systems can cause Legionnaires’ disease. Landlords are obliged to carry out a Legionella Risk Assessment before letting a property. While there is no requirement to record the findings of a risk assessment, the Health and Safety Executive recommends this as a good idea for landlords to do for their own purposes.

Safety certificates for HMOs

Safety certificates in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are similar to those for single lets, but there are some additional requirements relating to emergency lighting, fire regulations and the servicing of fire fighting equipment. In some cases you may need to apply for an HMO licence. You can find out more about HMO licence requirements in England and Wales, and also for Scotland and Northern Ireland on their government websites. There’s more here about the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and in our article on cladding and the Building Safety Act 2022 you can read more about the implications of the new legislation on HMOs. 

Fire safety 

A fire can cause devastating damage in minutes and put the lives of occupants at serious risk. Most of these landlord safety checks relate to fire safety in one way or another. Landlords’ number one priority should be to minimise the risk of fires, whatever the cause, in their rental properties. Here is our comprehensive guide to fire risk and fire safety

More fire safety rules and building regulations have been introduced since the Grenfell Fire incident involving building cladding (1 June 2022) which extend the ban on combustible cladding to accommodation over 18 metres in height, which you can read about in our article on cladding and the Building Safety Act 2022. The article contains more information on the external wall safety form (EWS1 form) and the EWS1 certificate. 

All new residential buildings over 11m now have to include a Secure Information Box that will give fire and rescue services access to important details about a building in the event of a fire. In addition, all new residential developments over 18m will have to incorporate an Evacuation Alert System which will help fire and rescue services inform residents of a change in evacuation strategy, during an incident.

Gaining access to carry out safety inspections

Landlords and agents sometimes have difficulty gaining access to properties to carry out the necessary inspection and checks required under the law. Here is our guide to help if you find you are having problems with gaining access.

Landlord penalties

In the case of unsafe gas or electrical installations the engineer concerned will be obliged to condemn and shut down the system until effective repairs are made and the local authority will need to be notified. If landlords do not have current safety certificates in place for both gas and electrical installations and HMO licences, they are liable to criminal prosecution by their local authority, with fines of up to £30,000 or imprisonment. You can read more about landlord penalties in our article on landlord fines

The information provided here applies primarily to England and Wales and is not a definitive statement of the law – always seek expert advice before taking action or not. You will find more about the legal requirements on the England, Northern Ireland, Scotland Wales government websites.

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