A Simple Guide to Landlord Safety Responsibilities

Further to our previous update regarding licensing changes, we have been asked by many of our landlords to expand upon my mailouts and explain things further within other facets of the industry. To this end, please find the first of such updates as below.

There are at least 145 laws, and over 400 regulations that need to be followed to legally let a property in England and Wales, but when it comes to your responsibilities as a landlord, the safety of your tenants must be your top priority.

To help you get to grips with what's expected, I have outlined the main safety concerns that you need to be aware of and the basic legal obligations that you must meet.

Please do keep in mind that this list is by no means exhaustive and simply touches on the basics - remember 145 laws with 400 regulations, I have covered next to nothing in the information below.

The information below relates to property rental in England alone, most regulations have different variations for Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland so if you have other investments within these locations please ask for further information.


It is a legal requirement that all rental properties follow the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Regulations.

These regulations require that you install at least one smoke alarm on every floor of the property where a room is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and a carbon monoxide alarms must be installed in any room containing a solid fuel-burning appliance such as a wood burner, coal fire or biomass.

On the first day of a new tenancy, you or your letting agent must make sure that each alarm is in proper working order.


Research has shown that more than 1 in 3 private landlords did not know it was their responsibility to get gas appliances checked, with 1 in 7 wrongly believing this was the responsibility of their local council. With this in mind, are you aware that it is also a landlord's legal requirement to maintain any pipework, appliances and flues?

Any gas appliances and flues/chimneys must be maintained and kept in a safe condition. You should be able to do this by following the manufacturer's service instructions. However, if you can't find these instructions, you should make sure they are serviced annually unless a Gas Safe registered engineer advises otherwise.

As well as any appliances it is also your responsibility to make sure that any gas pipework in the property is maintained and kept in a safe condition. Regular inspections will help you with this by highlighting repairs you need to make. It's worth noting that installation pipework is not covered by the annual gas safety check and so ask your engineer to carry out a tightness test on the gas system and visually examine the pipework for any defects or damage at the same time.

Before you let your property you need to make sure that all the gas equipment (including any appliances left by a previous tenant) is safe, if it isn't, make sure you get it fixed or removed before your new tenant moves in. If your tenant has their own gas appliances, you're still responsible for maintaining the pipework but not for the maintenance of the actual appliance.

To help minimise disruption it is seen as good practice to ask your engineer to inspect and test the pipework in between tenancies.


You must arrange an annual safety check on all gas appliances and flues with a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer.

New regulations came into force in April 2018 which gave landlords a bit more flexibility, by allowing you to get a new gas safety certificate up to two months before the current certificate expires while keeping the same expiry date - similar in style to a car's MOT.

These MOT style changes do not relax your regulatory requirements or reduce safety standards, they just aim to introduce a degree of flexibility to the timing of landlords' annual gas safety checks. This will help avoid you from waiting until the last minute and not being able to gain access or having to shorten the annual cycle check to comply with the law.

You are not responsible for safety checks on gas appliances owned by your tenant or any flues that solely connect to tenant-owned appliances.


A record of the annual safety check should be issued by a Gas Safe registered engineer and you must give a copy of the record to your tenants within 28 days of the check being completed, or to a new tenant at the start of their tenancy.

You will need to keep copies for at least two years, however, if you have used the new regulations to give you flexibility in arranging your gas safety checks, you need to keep hold of the records until two further gas safety checks have been carried out.

You can keep your records electronically, as long as you can reproduce it in hard copy format when it's requested, it is secure from loss and interference, and clearly identifies the engineer who issued the record.


As a landlord, you have a legal duty to ensure that your rental property, and any electrical equipment that you have provided, is safe before a tenancy begins and throughout its duration.

You must ensure that:

- all electrical systems are safe (e.g. socket, switches and light fittings); and

- all appliances they supply are safe (e.g. cookers and kettles).

Tenants should flag electrical problems as soon as they appear, and they have the responsibility to maintain any electrical items that they bring into the property.

It is recommended that tests are carried out by a registered electrician at least every five years and you should provide your tenants with a record of any electrical inspections. Landlords are also responsible for communal areas of a house, block of flats, or estate that residents use in common with other tenants e.g. landings and kitchens.

Landlords should provide tenants with a record of any electrical inspections. If you are looking for electrical safety advice, please visit electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk


Legionnaires' disease is a pneumonia-like infection caused by Legionella bacteria, commonly through the inhalation of small droplets of contaminated water. Landlords must assess and control the risk of exposure of tenants to Legionella.

Control measures include:

- Flushing out the water system before letting the property

- Ensuring cold water tanks have a tight lid to stop debris from getting into the system

- Setting control parameters to ensure water is stored at the correct temperature

- Removing any unused pipework

You should let your tenants know about any control measures they should be doing including regularly cleaning any showerheads. You should also ask them to let you or their agent know if problems occur with the water system, or if the water is not heating properly.

Also, if they have been out of the property for a while, tenants should run taps thoroughly to help reduce risk.

You should keep any records of any legionella assessments and plan follow up checks to be carried out periodically. For further help and advice in controlling the risk of Legionella, please visit the Health and Safety Executive.


The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 set levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture, furnishings and other products containing upholstery.

All furnishings should pass the 'smouldering cigarette' and 'match flame' resistance test and carry a label confirming this. Generally, items manufactured in the UK after 1990 are likely to meet the required standards and display the appropriate permanent label confirming their compliance.

If items do not comply they should be removed from the property before it is let, apart from where they are exemptions (e.g. furniture manufactured before 1950).


Some landlords may have issues getting access to the property in order to complete checks or other maintenance tasks. Your Tenancy Agreement should allow the landlord access for any maintenance or safety check work that needs to be done, but they must not use force to enter the property.

If your tenant is refusing access, you must show you've taken all reasonable steps to comply with the law, such as repeating attempts to carry out the safety check and writing to your tenant to explain that a safety check is a legal requirement that is in place for their own safety. Ultimately a court order may be required to secure access, but both the landlord and their agent should be on good enough terms with the tenant to ensure that access for maintenance is not an issue.


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