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Fire Safety

On April 29, 2015

The Scottish Repairing Standard requires all rented property to be fitted with mains powered smoke detectors in all circulations areas/hallways and also a smoke detector in the living room and a heat detector in the kitchen. All alarms should be interlinked. Full details can be obtained from the Repairing Standard http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Built-Environment/Housing/privaterent/landlords/physical/rules/repairing and Private Rented Housing

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Mandatory Electrical Check Requirements

The Scottish Government have recently published guidance on mandatory electrical check requirements which shall come into force from 1 December 2015.

The new requirements will apply to all Scottish privately rented properties covered by the Repairing Standard. Landlords will be required to have fixed wiring Electrical Installation Condition Report checks carried out at their properties at least every five years. Though the regulations will apply to all private tenancies, the fixed wiring check requirement will be applied in stages.

While landlords of tenancies entered into on or after 1 December 2015 will need to comply with the requirements at the date of signing the tenancy, landlords of tenancies in existence prior to 1 December 2015 will only be required to comply as of 1 December 2016.

Within the published guidance, all Electrical Installation Condition Reports must also include a Portable Appliance Test (PAT). Portable Appliance Tests will need to be carried out on all appliances provided by the landlord, but there will be no obligation to test items belonging to the tenant.

Landlords must ensure that all tests are carried out by a competent person. In Scotland, that will usually mean electricians who are members of SELECT (Scotland’s trade association for the electrical industry) or NICEIC (a voluntary regulatory body for the electrical contracting industry). Failing membership, any electrician instructed to complete electrical testing on behalf of the landlord should be able to confirm various points detailed in Annex A of the published guidance.

In addition to this, all EICRs and PATs carried out from 1 December 2015 will be required to be documented on the forms specified on pages 12 and 14 of the guidance in order to comply with the regulations. All appliances which have been checked will also be required to have test labels placed on them.

Any failure to comply with the new electrical check regulations may result in the Private Rented Housing Panel issuing a
Repairing Standard Enforcement Order and ultimately a rent penalty. Breaching a Repairing Standard Enforcement Order could amount to a criminal offence.

LEGIONNAIRES RISK ASSESSMENT & PRIVATE LANDLORD OBLIGATIONS

The recent outbreak of Legionnaires Disease in the Renfrew area, following on from the Edinburgh outbreak in 2012, is a timely reminder to private landlords that they have obligations to carry out legionnaires risk assessments of water systems within their rental properties.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) have an Approved Code of Practice and Guidance as regards Legionnaires Disease. The Code can be found here:-http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/l8.pdf

The Code confirms that private landlords have a duty to carry out risk assessments on water systems in their properties.  Formerly, the Code imposed a 300 litre limit for hot and cold water services, which effectively removed any responsibility from private landlords as regards risk assessments of normal domestic water systems.  However, with the removal of the 300 litre limit, private landlords now have an obligation to comply with the Code.

The Code requires private landlords to carry out:

  1. a risk assessment to identify and assess potential sources of exposure, and thereafter, where a risk has been identified
  2. to introduce a course of action to prevent or control any identified risk.

The risk assessment can be carried out by the landlord himself if he is competent to do so, or alternatively can be done by a suitably qualified third party.  The ultimate responsibility remains with the landlord, even where he employs a letting agent to manage the property on his behalf.

Landlords must regularly review the risk assessment and keep records of same.  Where risks are identified, the landlord must take appropriate action.

LANDLORD RESPONSIBILITIES FOR GAS SAFETY

What is a landlord responsibilities in relation to gas safety regulations? The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 require a Landlord to ensure that any gas fitting (and any flue which serves any relevant gas fitting) is maintained in a safe condition.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) issued a safety letter in October 2008 regarding a potential risk regarding flues for gas boilers which were located in internal walls and which run through areas such as a ceiling void.  Clearly such flues cannot be easily visually inspected.  Accordingly, the HSE have issued an updated safety notice, and updated guidance has been issued by the Gas Safe Register.

Inspection hatches must now be fitted to properties where the flue is concealed within voids and cannot be visually inspected.  The homeowner has until 31 December 2012 to install such an inspection hatch.  Prior to then, where there is no inspection hatch and the flue cannot be visually inspected, a gas engineer will be required to carry out a risk assessment as regards potential exposure to carbon monoxide.  This will involve:

  • looking for signs of leakage of carbon monoxide from the flue
  • carry out a flue combustion analysis check
  • checking whether there are any audible carbon monoxide alarms installed in the property.

For any inspections carried out after 1 January 2013, where the gas engineer is unable to do a visual inspection of a flue, the gas engineer will have to:

  • deem that the system is “at risk” and turn off the gas supply to the boiler so that it cannot be used.

The HSE advises all Landlords to arrange for the fitting of an inspection hatch for any flue as soon as possible, but at the very latest this should be done by 31 December 2012.

 

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