Legal and Safety Requirements

To let your property successfully and safely, there are a number of health and safety regulations and guidelines you have follow to both prevent tenants being injured and you being sued or prosecuted.

Every property is different and the legislation is extremely complex.  The following is a summary the legal and safety requirements for a property being let in the private sector.

 

 

Since April 2006, it has been a legal requirement to register with local authorities if you are a private residential Landlord. The scheme was introduced in accordance with The Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act 2004.  It is a legal requirement for landlords to register their residential letting property.

The purpose of a National Registration Scheme is to mainly identify properties let by, or on behalf of, private landlords and assess whether they are fit to do so.   It also gives Local Authorities powers to ensure that landlords who do not act in a proper manner are prevented from letting if they do not improve their approach.

If a property is being managed by an agency, the property owner must also make this known to the local authorities, as the same standards must apply to agencies as they apply to landlords. Landlords must register themselves, and then list those properties they intend to let. On average, the cost is £55 fee for registering, plus £11 per property. Landlords with properties that are HMO licensed are not required to pay additional fees for landlord registration.

The information you will be required to provide when registering is as follows:

  • Name, address, date of birth, and past names (if any).
  • Addresses of all properties rented.
  • Name and address of agent, and their agency number.
  • Any information on criminal convictions or court/tribunal judgments.
  • Make a declaration regarding the above.

To check your registration is current and correct, you can log on to: www.landlordregistrationscotland.gov.uk

 

The advisory content on this site is not a substitute for legal advice.   Landlords are encouraged to seek independent legal advice in relation to landlord and tenant matters. 

If you are a landlord and let your residential property out on a Scottish Short Assured Tenancy, you will need a Scottish EPC. Commercial properties, such as offices, also need one. There are a few exceptions, such as some bedsits and holiday lets.

An Energy Performance Certificate gives each property an energy efficiency rating and measures its carbon efficiency. It’s a bit like the energy stickers you see on new white goods. You can see an example of what a Scottish EPC looks like below. Accompanying the certificate is a recommendations report on how to make the property more energy and carbon efficient.

As from 4 January 2009 in Scotland where a dwelling is being let, a Scottish Energy Performance Certificate (Scottish EPC) will be required. An EPC is required whenever a dwelling is being rented out. Dwelling is a residential property which is self contained. For these purposes a dwelling is self-contained if it does not share essential facilities with another unit such as bathroom/shower room, toilet or kitchen. It has to have its own entrance either direct from the outside or from the common parts (such as hall stairs or landings). It is not self-contained if access is via another unit. For more information about this see the section below A registered assessor must prepare an EPC. So for example an EPC is required as follows: –

  • Individual house/dwelling (i.e. a self contained property with its own kitchen/bathroom facilities) one EPC for the dwelling.
  • Self contained flats (i.e. each behind its own front door with is own kitchen/bathroom facilities) one EPC per flat.
  • Bedsits (where there is a shared kitchen and/or bathroom) no EPC is required.
  • Shared flats/houses (e.g. a letting of a whole flat or house to students/young professionals etc) – one EPC for the whole house.
  • Mixed self contained and non self-contained accommodation one EPC for each self contained flat/unit but no EPC for the remainder of the property.
  • A room in a hall of residence or hostel – no EPC is required.
  • Individual room in a flat or house (e.g. where a tenant rents a room so he/she has exclusive use of his/her bedroom and shared use of the kitchen toilet and bathroom) no EPC is required.

WARNING This is the interpretation put on matters by Government lawyers. It may change. It could be open to challenge.
For further information please visit letting-EPC Scotland

The main risk of not servicing or maintaining gas equipment is a serious gas explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning. Landlords are required by law to service all gas-related equipment at least once every 12 months. Landlords must also keep a record of regular checks and the condition of equipment at all times. You must also provide tenants with an annual gas safety certificate. If you do not provide your tenant with an annual gas safety certificate, you are breaking the law.

Landlords are also responsible for providing tenants with instructions for the safe use of gas appliances and equipment.

What used to be called a CORGI gas safety certificate has been replaced with what is now known a Gas Safe. Instead of being run by CORGI, the Government set up its own system of registration for gas engineers. If you are a landlord, any gas appliances such as boilers and heaters within your property must be inspected once a year and a certificate (sometimes also called a report) produced by a registered engineer and any work done to make it safe to set standards laid down by Gas Safe. This report must be given to your tenants within 28 days of being completed.

Statutory guidance for the provision of CO monoxide alarms in private rented housing.

Introduction

  1. This statutory guidance is part of The Scottish Government Advice Pack for Private Landlords. It is issued under sections 13(1)(g) and 13(6) of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 (which were inserted by section 22 of the Housing ( Scotland ) Act 2014). Regard must be had to this guidance in determining whether a house meets the repairing standard in relation to the provision for giving warning if carbon monoxide (CO) is present in a concentration that is hazardous to health. This guidance takes effect from 1 December 2015.
  2. Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas. Low levels of CO gas can be present in the atmosphere, however it is highly toxic and dangerous to humans and animals in higher quantities. The gas is produced in high levels from appliances where incomplete combustion of a carbon based fuel occurs. Incomplete combustion could occur in appliance installations that are defective, lack proper maintenance or have inadequate provision for combustion air.
  3. Every year in Scotland there are fatalities from CO poisoning directly attributed to combustion appliances installed in buildings. In addition to these deaths there are also a considerable number of incidents where people are treated in hospital for the effects of CO poisoning. In some cases CO poisoning can result in serious and permanent injury to persons affected. Where CO gas may occur within a building early detection and warning can play a vital role in the protection and safety of the occupants. This is particularly important in buildings with sleeping accommodation.

Repairing Standard

  1. Private landlords in Scotland are required by law to ensure that a rented house meets the repairing standard at the start of a tenancy and throughout a tenancy. One part of the repairing standard is that the house has satisfactory provision for giving warning if CO gas is present in a concentration that is hazardous to health.
  2. More information about the repairing standard and the other elements that need to be met is available in the Advice Pack for Private Landlords. 1 Tenants have a right to refer any landlord not complying with this new carbon monoxide duty or any other element of the repairing standard to the Private Rented Housing Panel (PRHP). Regulations are expected to come into force in December 2015 which will also enable local authorities to apply to the PRHP in respect of the repairing standard.
  3. Combustion appliances such as boilers, fires ( including open fires ), heaters and stoves fuelled by solid fuel, oil or gas all have the potential to cause CO poisoning if they are poorly installed or commissioned, inadequately maintained or incorrectly used. Inadequate ventilation or a lack of the correct maintenance of appliances, flues and chimneys are the main causes of CO poisoning. Poisonous CO gas is produced when fuel does not burn properly. Incidents of poisoning can also occur through deterioration of the structure of the flue or chimney.
  4. The installation of CO detectors is intended to reduce the risk of CO poisoning and the consequent loss of life and serious injury. The repairing standard sets a high benchmark for CO detection, matching the standard required for new building. Private landlords should make every effort to ensure that all the properties they let to tenants meet this standard regardless of when the tenancy started and what previous requirements have already been met .
  5. As stated in section 13(6) of the 2006 Act, in deciding whether this standard is met in relation to giving warning when a hazardous level of CO gas is present, regard must be had to any building regulations and any guidance on the subject issued by Scottish Ministers.
  6. Landlords should bear in mind that there are other standards that may need to be met in addition to the repairing standard such as those relating to Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) which must meet physical standards set by the licensing local authority. Detection of carbon monoxide is covered in section 4.5 of The Scottish Government guidance for local authorities on licensing of HMOs Landlord’s Responsibilities
  7. Landlords should be aware of what the building regulations say in relation to CO detection and have regard to those regulations in assessing what level of CO detectors are needed to ensure that the home has satisfactory provision for detecting and warning of the presence of CO gas in a concentration that is hazardous to health.
  8. In order to alert occupants to the presence of levels of CO gas which may be harmful to people, private landlords must ensure that a detection system is installed in all dwellings they rent to tenants where there is :
    1.  a fixed combustion appliance (excluding an appliance used solely for cooking) in the dwelling or
    2.  a fixed combustion appliance in an inter-connected space, for example, an integral garage
    3. a combustion appliance necessarily located in a bathroom ( advice would be to locate it elsewhere ) – the CO detector should be sited outside the room as close to the appliance as possible but allowing for the effect humid air might have on the detector when the bathroom door is open. 2 12. A CO detection system is not required in an attached out-building or garage where there is no inter-connection with the house e.g. a door. To be clear, if there is no way that CO could reasonably be expected to find a path into the house there is no need for a detector.
    4. CO detectors should be powered by a battery designed to operate for the working life of the detector which is usually between five and seven years. The detector should incorporate a warning device to alert the users when its working life is due to expire and should be replaced on or before the expiry date. Hard wired mains operated CO detectors with fixed wiring (not plug in types) may be used as an alternative, provided they are fitted with a sensor failure warning device. CO detectors must comply with BS EN 50291-1+A1:2002 and, where hard-wired or wireless installations are adopted, applicable European directives.
    5. Private landlords may install combined Fire / CO detectors providing they meet the appropriate requirements of BS EN 50291-1:2010+A1:2012 with regard to CO detection/alarm activation. It will however be a requirement that the detectors be hard wired to ensure compliance with the guidance on satisfactory provision for detecting and warning of fires. As outlined above single CO detectors can be battery powered. 15. Audibility levels in adjoining rooms and the effect of CO gas moving throughout the building should be taken into account. CO detectors should include an integral sounder. 16. A CO detection system to alert occupants to the presence of CO gas should consist of at least: • 1 CO detector in every space containing a fixed combustion appliance (excluding an appliance used solely for cooking) and • 1 CO detector to provide early warning in high risk accommodation, that is, a bedroom or principal habitable room, where a flue passes through these rooms. Unless otherwise indicated by the manufacturer, CO detectors should be either: • ceiling mounted and positioned at least 300 mm from any wall or • wall mounted and positioned at least 150 mm below the ceiling and higher than any door or window in the room.
    6. CO detectors in the space containing the combustion appliance should be sited between 1 and 3 metres from the appliance. • If the combustion appliance ( primarily boilers ) is located within a small space, usually a cupboard, the detector should be sited outside the space / 3 cupboard with the appropriate distance between appliance and detector of between 1 and 3 metres. • If the combustion appliance ( primarily boilers ) is located in an attic, the detector should ideally be sited between 1 and 3 metres from the appliance in the attic and another interlinked detector sited outside the attic near the attic hatch. Where this is not possible, a detector sited outside the attic as near the attic hatch as possible is acceptable.
    7. A carbon monoxide detector should not be sited: • in an enclosed space (for example in a cupboard or behind a curtain) • where it can be obstructed (for example by furniture) • directly above a sink • next to a door or window • next to an extractor fan • next to an air vent or similar ventilation opening • in an area where the temperature may drop below -10°C or exceed 40°C, unless the detector is designed to do so • where dirt and dust may block the sensor • in a damp or humid location or • in the immediate vicinity of a cooking appliance
    8. Landlords should be mindful that the provision of a CO detection system should not be regarded as a substitute for the correct installation and regular servicing of all combustion appliances. For example, under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 landlords are legally responsible for the safety of their tenants in relation to gas safety – by law landlords must: • Repair and maintain gas pipework, flues and appliances in safe condition • Ensure an annual gas safety check is done on each appliance and flue • Keep a record of each gas safety check
    9. Whilst landlords are entitled to rely on professional advice from a suitably qualified person, for example, a Gas Safe Registered engineer, they should be aware of their personal responsibility to ensure any house they rent meets the repairing standard which now includes this new duty in relation to carbon monoxide detection.
    10. It is recognised that in tenement flats with multiple owners, flues may pass through neighbouring properties – this is most likely where there are deteriorating old chimneys but can also occur where gas fires are present. It is not the responsibility of a landlord to install CO detectors in neighbouring properties, however landlords should be aware of any potential risk which could result in gas escaping into other living spaces. If in doubt, landlords should always seek professional advice to ensure the safety of their own tenants and minimise risk to neighbouring properties.
    11. The Health and Safety Executive website provides useful information on how to manage gas appliances / equipment safely http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic/ It also gives good advice on what action should be taken if you think an appliance is spilling CO gas.
    12. Shelter Scotland website looks at how gas safety can be improved in your home including minimising the risk of CO poisoning. http://scotland.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/advice_topics/repairs_and_bad_conditions/ home_safety/gas_safety
    13. Although this guidance does not take effect until 1 December 2015, The Scottish Government would expect landlords to be taking steps now to bring their properties up to the required standard in relation to CO detection as outlined in this guidance. It is expected that landlords will have regard to this guidance immediately and ensure CO detection is installed by 1 December 2015. However, if a landlord has a scheduled annual gas safety check it is reasonable to arrange work to install CO detectors at the same time. This will mean that no more than one year from the date of this guidance, all private rented properties should have adequate CO detectors installed. Scottish Government Directorate for Housing and Welfare

25 June 2015

Source:

The Advice pack is available on line at http://www.prhpscotland.gov.uk/prhp/137.26.33.html

Summary of Revised Smoke Alarm Guidance – Scottish Private Rental Sector

Smoke Alarms in Private Lets The Scottish Government has produced revised statutory guidance on the requirements for smoke alarms. A copy of the revised statutory guidance is available on the PRHP website by visiting www.prhpscotland.gov.uk.
However, the main points relative to smoke detectors are as follows. The revised Domestic Technical Handbook guidance states there should be at least:

  1. One functioning smoke alarm in the¹ room which is frequently used by the occupants for general daytime living purposes,
  2. One functioning smoke alarm in every circulation space, such as hallways and landings
  3. One heat alarm in every kitchen

All alarms should be interlinked. The number and position of the alarms will depend on the size and layout of the house. There should be at least one alarm on each floor. The landlord should either install smoke and fire detectors that meet the standard set by building regulations or be able to justify why a lesser level of protection is appropriate in a particular house.

If there is a requirement for a particular house to meet more stringent standards, then these more stringent standards apply.

An alarm should be installed in accordance with the recommendations contained in BS5839 Part 6 and the landlord should ensure the alarm is regularly maintained in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations. The fitting of a hard wired smoke alarm may require a building warrant and the relevant local authorities should be consulted.

1 Text amended September 2014. Building regulations were updated in May 2014 and the word “every” was replaced by “the” in clause 2.11.1 of the technical handbook. See http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Built-Environment/Building/Buildingstandards/techbooks/techhandbooks/therrt14.

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT STATUTORY GUIDANCE ON ELECTRICAL INSTALLATIONS AND APPLIANCES IN PRIVATE RENTED PROPERTY

Key Points

  • A new duty to carry out electrical safety inspections comes into force on 1 December 2015.
  • There are two parts to the electrical safety inspection, (1) an inspection of installations, fixtures and fittings and (2) a record of testing of appliances provided by the landlord.
  • The tenant must be given a copy of the inspection when it is done. A new tenant must be given a copy of the most recent inspection before the tenancy begins.
  • Landlords should ensure that inspections are carried out by a competent person – there is guidance on what standard is expected here – but a landlord can carry out appliance testing if they have undertaken appropriate training.
  • The minimum standard is that an electrical safety inspection is carried out every five years – but testing can be carried out more frequently.
  • The new duty applies to new tenancies that begin on or after 1 December 2015. It applies to existing tenancies from 1 December 2016. So landlords will have up to one year to organise inspections of the homes they let.
  • Regular inspection of installations, fixtures and appliances is best practice and some landlords will have arranged inspections before the law changes. The current standard format for inspections was introduced on 1 January 2012, and inspections completed from that date can comply with the repairing standard.

 

This is a revised version of the guidance published in February 2015 on the new duty for electrical safety inspections in private rented housing.  The revision is intended to improve clarity and technical accuracy, and includes some examples of completed forms, but does not make any changes to what landlords are expected to do. 

Download a copy of the guidelines SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT GUIDANCE ON ELECTRICAL INSTALLATIONS AND APPLIANCES IN PRIVATE RENTED PROPERTY
This guidance is published on the website of the Private Rented Housing Panel athttps://www.prhpscotland.gov.uk/repairs-downloads-landlords.

From 3rd September 2007 there were important changes in the laws covering responsibilities of private landlords to carry out repairs.

Private landlords already have legal obligations to repair the properties they rent out, but these are difficult for tenants to enforce. The new Repairing Standard under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 modifies and extends these obligations and the establishment of the Private Rented Housing Panel (PRHP) makes it easier for a tenant to enforce them. Most private landlords keep their properties in good repair and ensure that they meet their legal obligations. Enforcement action through the PRHP will only be necessary for the small minority of landlords who fail to do so. The Scottish Government wants to ensure that everyone has access to decent, affordable housing and the new Repairing Standard will contribute to this.

The new Repairing Standard is more extensive than the previous statutory duty to repair and maintain in Schedule 10 of the 1987 Act, and takes in some of the standards of the social rented sector introduced by the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001, as well as some obligations that would previously have been contractural. A landlord will have to ensure that:

  • Accommodation must be wind and watertight and ‘reasonably fit for human habitation’
  • The structure and exterior must be in a reasonable state of repair
  • Installations for the supply of water, gas and electricity must be in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order
  • Fixtures and fittings and any appliances provided by the landlord must be in a reasonable state of repair and in good working order
  • Any furnishings provided by the landlord must be able to be used safely and for the purpose they are intended for
  • There must be a satisfactory means of detecting and warning about fire (such as smoke alarms)

Private landlords are responsible for ensuring that their property complies with the Repairing Standard both at the start of the tenancy, and at all times during the tenancy.  Private tenants who think that their landlord has failed to comply with the Standard will be able to make an application to the Private Rented Housing Panel for a determination.  The Panel will only consider a complaint if it is satisfied that the applicant has exhausted their landlord’s own complaints procedure.  If the Panel deems that the complaint is valid however, it will refer it to the Private rented Committee which has a range of enforcement options available to it.  These include the issuing of a Repairing Standard Enforcement Order or a Rent Relief Order.

Further details about the new Repairing Standard and the associated provisions are available in the Scottish Executive Guidance for Landlord document which can be downloaded here.

Regulations about fire resistant furniture are strict for rental accommodation and you must ensure all relevant items meet the guidelines set under th Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Amendment Regulations 1993. As a general guide, furniture made before 1988 is unlikely to meet the standards and should be replaced before letting your property.

Any items that contain upholstery and could be used inside the property, should be checked, including:

  • Beds, headboards, mattresses, futons and sofa beds
  • Children’s or nursery furniture
  • Garden furniture that might be used within the property
  • Cushions, pillows

Items that are exempt from this legislation include:

  • Sleeping bags, duvets, pillow cases and blankets
  • Carpets and curtains
  • Furniture made before 1950

To check items for the fire safety standards, look for a permanent label stating the regulation it conforms to. Bed bases and mattresses are not required to have this label attached, but they should have a label stating compliance with tests.

If you’re in any doubt that a bed or sofa, for example,may not meet the required standard, replace them. There are substantial fines and even prison sentences imposed for non-compliance should an accident occur.

 

From 1st May 2013, all landlords in Scotland are required, by law, to provide new tenants with a Tenant Information Pack by the start of the tenancy.

The pack must include information about the property’s condition, the tenancy agreement and the rights and responsibilities of both tenant and landlord. They must contain important documents including the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), gas safety certificate, the inventory and the landlord’s registration, amongst other information.

The packs can be provided either electronically or in hard-copy. If landlords fail to provide new tenants with the Tenant Information Pack, they will be fined up to £500.

Concerns that some private landlords unfairly withhold tenants’ deposits led to provisions in the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006, for Scottish Ministers to bring forward regulations for the approval of tenancy deposit schemes in Scotland.

A tenancy deposit scheme is a scheme provided by an independent third party for the purposes of protecting deposits until they are due to be repaid.

The Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011 came into force on 7 March 2011. The Regulations set out the conditions that all schemes must meet before they can be approved by the Scottish Ministers.

Scheme start date

A scheme proposed by the Letting Protection Service Scotland has been approved by the Scottish Ministers. The scheme started operating on Monday 2 July 2012.

The legal duties on landlords who receive a deposit in connection with a relevant tenancy will also be triggered from 2 July. The legal duties on landlords are:

  • to pay deposits to an approved tenancy deposit scheme
  • to provide the tenant with key information about the tenancy and deposit.

Additional schemes

Two further schemes are also being considered from:

  • SafeDeposits Scotland
  • MyDeposits Scotland

Further information

Details about the individual schemes are on the web sites below.

If you have any questions about tenancy deposits, please contact The Scottish Government on 0131 244 7927 or email tdsproposals@scotland.gsi.gov.uk.

Source:  The Scottish Government

The advisory content on this site is not a substitute for legal advice.   Landlords are encouraged to seek independent legal advice in relation to landlord and tenant matters and as to the form and content of tenancy agreements and statutory notices.

Landlords letting residential property must make sure that all upholstered furniture complies. Generally, these cover the need for fire-resistant filling material to upholstered articles and the passing of a match-resistant and cigarette-resistant test. Failure to do so could result in up to 6 months imprisonment and/or fines up to £5000.

The correct method of displaying compliance is to check that a permanent label is present on all items of furniture. Any items not labelled may not conform to the regulation and will have to be removed from the property. It should be noted that any furniture manufactured prior to 1st January 1950 is exempt from the regulations.

Furniture and furnishings

As a general guide, furniture made before 1988 is unlikely to meet the standards and should be replaced before letting your property.

Any items that contain upholstery and could be used inside the property, should be checked, including:

  • Beds, headboards, mattresses, futons and sofa beds
  • Children’s or nursery furniture
  • Garden furniture that might be used within the property
  • Cushions, pillows

Items that are exempt from this legislation include:

  • Sleeping bags, duvets, pillow cases and blankets
  • Carpets and curtains
  • Furniture made before 1950

To check items for the fire safety standards, look for a permanent label stating the regulation it conforms to. Bed bases and mattresses are not required to have this label attached, but they should have a label stating compliance with ignitability tests.

If you’re in any doubt that a bed or sofa, for example,may not meet the required standard, replace them. There are substantial fines and even prison sentences imposed for non-compliance should an accident occur.
Read more at http://www.primelocation.com/discover/letting/guide-to-being-a-landlord/#Qcj6veeohYekDLsy.99