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Gas, electricity and fire safety regulations for landlords

As a landlord, you have responsibilities to your tenant and one of the big ones relates to the heating and power supply in your property.

We’ve put together this guide to explain, in brief terms, what your obligations are and how to meet them.

Safety alarms

Your property must be fitted with smoke alarms and, if the property has a gas supply or uses any kind of solid fuel (like a wood-burning stove), a carbon monoxide alarm. They can be battery- or mains-powered; it’s up to you.

You must have at least one smoke alarm on each storey. And a carbon monoxide alarm must be fitted in each room with a solid fuel-burning appliance, including a gas fire or hob. There are no fixed rules on where exactly should you place the alarms.

You should ensure the alarms are in working order at the start of each tenancy. After that, liability for testing them moves to your tenants, who are responsible for their own safety.

You can read the full regulations for England here.

Fire safety

You must ensure all upholstered furnishing (sofas, mattresses, cushions, etc.) provided are fire-resistant, as per the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988.

You should consider providing fire alarms and extinguishers (one per floor), and at least one fire blanket (per kitchen). You may also want to ensure doors leading to escape routes are fire-resistant. These are merely suggestions, unless the property is a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO). In this case, these are mandatory.

You’re also responsible for ensuring fire escape routes (e.g. fire doors) are not blocked or locked, and that evacuation routes can withstand fire long enough for people to get out. You may also want to consider providing a fire ladder. These are relatively inexpensive and provide a means of escape through an upstairs window if a stairwell is blocked by fire.

There are more details about fire safety, and other safety requirements, in the Government’s Housing Health and Safety Rating System guidance for landlords.

Gas safety inspections

If the property has a gas power supply, whether natural gas or LPG, you must ensure any gas appliances are checked annually for safety by a certified Gas Safe (previously known as CORGI) engineer. You’ll receive a certificate, and you must provide a copy to your tenant.

You can’t delegate responsibility for this inspection to your tenant, but you can ask your lettings agent (if you use one) to arrange this for you, provided you receive a copy of all the paperwork.

Since April 2018, the regulations have changed to introduce a degree of flexibility. The new, ‘MOT-style’ certificate mean any inspection conducted in the two months before your certificate’s expiry date, will maintain the same expiry date moving forward.

So, if your certificate expires on 30th June and the only available time when your tenant and an engineer can meet at the property is the 27th, the new certificate will still run until 30th June.

This change should make keeping track of the inspection date easier, and ensure you don’t ‘lose’ a chunk of your certified period before each renewal. It also means you can plan in a comfortable ‘buffer’ before the expiry date, so you don’t accidentally find yourself in breach of the regulations because (for instance) an engineer didn’t turn up to the appointment.

Electrical safety inspections

In Scotland, landlords must get an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) for their property every five years, and supply a copy to tenants. You also need to provide a Portable Appliance Test (or ‘PAT test’) for any moveable electrical objects (like microwaves, kettles, etc.).

Elsewhere in the UK, the rules around the electricity supply are less clear-cut. There is no specific requirement for a regular inspection, but several laws and regulations do apply that could leave you exposed to prosecution or imprisonment if you fail to meet them, including:

It’s therefore advisable to have a periodic inspection done – and some Gas Safe inspectors now offer to conduct electrical checks at the same time.

If you decide against this, there are a few key takeaways that you should be aware of:

  • You must ensure the electrical system, and any electrical equipment you provide, is safe
  • Unless you’re a registered professional, you must not conduct electrical work yourself. You can find a registered professional here
  • You must provide an installation certificate for any new equipment (e.g. sockets, light fixtures)
  • You must supply usage and safety instructions for any equipment you provide
  • You must conduct a yearly PAT test for every electrical item you provide (if your property is an HMO)
  • All second-hand electrical equipment must be PAT-tested before being provided.