Safety in properties - what you need to know as a landlord

August, 2014

As a landlord, you have a great many responsibilities towards your tenants; from ensuring the taps don't drip to checking that electrical items are in good working order. The landlord's biggest obligation is to guarantee the safety of the property and its inhabitants, something which covers several different areas.

Here's what you need to know:

Properties must meet the Repairing Standard

As stipulated under The Housing (Scotland) Act 2006, landlords must make sure that their properties meet the Repairing Standard. This means that the building must be deemed structurally sound and in a decent state of repair - essentially, it should be in a liveable condition. This needs to be established prior to and throughout the duration of the tenancy. Should the landlord fail to carry out any necessary repairs, tenants can notify the Private Rented Housing Panel to report the issue.

Fire prevention

By law, landlords must install smoke alarms to detect fire. A fire blanket and perhaps a small extinguisher may also be a good idea, in case of small incidents. Ultimately, it is the landlord's duty to ensure that the property is in habitable condition and that there is nothing that might be considered a fire hazard, such as loose or frayed wires or over-loaded plug sockets.

Gas and electricity

Landlords are legally obliged to have all of their gas appliances and pipework checked by an accredited Gas Safe registered engineer. This must take place annually and a record of the check given to the tenant. Landlords should keep hold of copies for two months. Electrical appliances and supply, similarly, must be checked and considered 'in good working order' under the Repairing Standard. It is suggested via that landlords obtain an Electrical Installation Condition Report to prove that all appliances are safe and function as they ought to.

Building security

For both your own peace of mind and that of your tenants, landlords must make sure that the property is secure, to keep out intruders. This means checking that the windows (especially those on the ground floor) both close and lock effectively, and that doors are fitted with robust locks, such as a five-lever mortice deadlock plus bolts. Side gates should ideally be secured with a padlock. Should the property be situated in an area past which many people walk, it's probably advisable to hang blinds or net curtains so that valuables cannot be seen from the road and tempt any thieves.

Much of what is listed above may seem like common sense, but is essential. Your letting agent should be able to provide further information on how to ensure safety in your property, allowing you to enjoy your rental investment without incident.

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