Furniture & Appliances
As a landlord you have a duty of care to your tenants, to minimise the risk that they are likely to come to harm while living on your premises. The nitty gritty of the requirements are so detailed as to put off a prospective landlord for life at first glance!
However, a lot of the furniture requirements are simply minimum standard for furniture producers these days – at least in Europe. And once you are aware of what you need to do on an annual basis to check that your property complies with the laws regarding appliances, it all looks far more manageable. Here are the basics.
If you are letting your property furnished or part-furnished, fire regulations require that:
- All new furniture (except mattresses, bed-bases, pillows, scatter cushions, seat pads and loose and stretch covers for furniture) must carry a display label at the point of sale. This is the retailer’s responsibility rather than yours.
- All new furniture (except mattresses and bed bases) and loose and stretch covers are required to carry a permanent label providing information about their fire-retarding properties. The Regulations do not apply to sleeping bags, bedclothes (including duvets), loose covers for mattresses, pillowcases, curtains and carpets.
All furniture must meet the Fire Resistance Requirements by passing a cigarette-resistance test. Cover fabric, whether for use in permanent or loose covers, must pass a match-resistance test and filling materials for all furniture must pass ignitability tests.
Tenancies commencing prior to 1993 are exempt, but all additional or replacement furniture added after this time must comply with fire resistance requirements and a new tenant will mean that all furniture must now comply.
All landlords must have all the gas appliances in their rental checked over annually and declared safe by a ‘Gas Safe’ registered engineer – NOT a CORGI-registered engineer, as was the case prior to April 2009.
They will give you (or the letting agent) an up to date landlord's gas safety certificate, a copy of which must be given to your tenant.
If you manage the property yourself, this is your responsibility. If you have a lettings agent managing the place, it is usually their responsibility to arrange the inspection and deal with the paperwork, but make sure this is clearly spelt out in your contract with them.
You are not obliged to provide your tenant with a Carbon Monoxide Alarm, but it makes sense to protect them and your property. They cost between £10 and £30 from hardware shops. Make sure any alarm you buy complies with British Standard EN 50291 and carries a British or European approval mark, such as a Kitemark.
You must ensure that the fixed installation and all electrical appliances supplied are safe, with little risk of injury or death to humans, or risk of damage to property. This applies throughout the life of the tenancy and includes all mains voltage household electric goods supplied by the landlord such as cookers, kettles, toasters, electric blankets, washing machines etc. Any equipment supplied should be marked with the appropriate CE symbol.
Appliances you supply should either be new or checked by a qualified electrician before the property is let. All paperwork regarding the item (such as receipts, warranties, certificates of inspection) should be kept for a minimum period of six years.
One way of helping to achieve safety is to undertake a regular formal inspection of the installation and appliances on an annual basis.
General Product Safety
The General Product Safety Regulations stipulate that anything supplied to a consumer in the course of commercial activities must be safe. These Regulations apply where the 'product' in question does not fall into any other category such as furniture, electrical, gas, etc. It covers general problems in properties such as missing rungs in ladders.
You have an obligation to ensure that such items are safe because non-compliance can result in both prosecution under the regulations and a civil claim for damages if a tenant is injured as a result. As with all repairs, you should ensure that these are done quickly once you have been notified of the defect.