The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994
This regulation requires that all electrical appliances, equipment and supply must be safe. Where their safe use requires, appropriate instruction booklets must also be provided. Plugs and sockets that are newly installed must conform to the appropriate British Standards approved alternative. Unlike the gas safety, there is currently no statutory annual testing interval. Yet, in order to meet the requirements, it is still important that the electrical equipment be tested regularly.
Home Lettings Scotland recommend that PAT testing be carried out annually together with a visual inspection.
The Gas Safety (Installations and use) Regulations 1994
This requires a Landlord to ensure that all gas fittings and flues are maintained in good order, and requires gas appliances and flues to be checked for safety by a GAS SAFE registered engineer (The Landlords Gas Safety Certificate). This must be carried out before a tenant takes occupation, and thereafter yearly. A copy of the certificate should be kept at the property at all times and a copy should also be provided to us for our records.
Smoke Alarms – Section 20 (1) Housing (Scotland) Act 2006
If you are renting out a property in Scotland you must ensure you have a smoke alarm in the property before the tenant moves in. The main points relative to smoke detectors as set out in the statutory guidance are:-
- There should be one or more functioning smoke alarms installed in the property
- The number and position of alarms is to be determined by the size and layout of the property
- There should be at least one alarm on each floor
- If there are multiple alarms they should be interlinked
- An alarm installed prior to 3rd September 2007 can be mains powered or battery powered
- Any smoke alarm installed or modified after 3rd September 2007 must be mains powered, including replacement alarms
The Furniture & Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988
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.
The Repairing Standards
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.
One of the key changes associated with the new Repairing Standard is that it is now a statutory requirement to have smoke detectors fitted in all rented properties.
Battery powered smoke detectors are no longer acceptable. New installations (including replacements) however, must be hard-wired (mains powered). There must be a minimum of one detector positioned on each floor of the property and if the property has more than one floor, the smoke detectors on each floor must be interlinked.
It will be a criminal offence if a landlord fails to comply with a repairing standard enforcement order without reasonable excuse. It will also be a criminal offence for a landlord to enter into a tenancy or occupancy arrangement relating to the house subject to a repairing enforcement order without the consent of the Private Rented Housing Committee.
Information about the PRHP is available at www.prhpscotland.gov.uk
Energy Performance Certificate
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 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.