Beyond the financial responsibilities that come with renting a new home, tenants need to ensure the property they want to live in is free from health and safety issues. There is already a lot of pressure involved with finding the right property to suit your budget and it is easy to overlook some of these important points. In order to ensure you are renting a safe home, here are the hazards to look out for.
Health and safety hazards to look out for in a rental property
There are four main areas to cover when it comes to potential hazards that could harm your health and safety while living in a rental property. While some are more dangerous than others, make sure all of the below are checked before signing a tenancy agreement:
- Property condition
Check around window and ceiling corners for signs of damp or mould that may be present. Also enquire about the type of boiler that is installed, its age and that you will receive a gas safety check from a qualified Gas Safe engineer before moving in. All electrical appliances and points must also be tested and verified as safe.
- Fire and accident safety
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations from 1988 states that all furniture and upholstery must be made from flame resistant materials or that the material is treated by a flame retardant coating. Carbon monoxide and wired smoke alarms must be installed on each floor of the property. Check that all power sockets, switches and fuse boxes are in good working order and no loose wiring is present. Floors should be kept in good condition so there are no trip hazards, with good lighting on the stairs, handrails and restrictors or safety rails on low-level large windows.
- Infection risks
Check for any cracks or holes in skirting boards in each room where pests may be able to come and go. If there are any vermin droppings on the floor this is a sign, they are present in and around the property. Carpet mites and bed bugs should be checked for to avoid risk of infection.
- Space and condition
When viewing the property check there is enough room for a bed and furniture for each person due to be living there. Adequate kitchen and cooking facilities must also be made available based on the number of tenants. Access to the property should be well-lit and working locks secured on external doors and all windows. Ask about the neighbours and listen out for any noise – you can always ask for a second viewing at a different time to double check this.
What to do if you spot any health hazards in a rental property
If you spot any issues with the above before you move in, it must be brought to the attention of the landlord/agent as quickly as possible. It is then their responsibility to ensure any repairs or alterations are made to make sure the property is in a liveable condition.
Sometimes issues are missed when viewing a property that are only noticed after you have moved in. If this is the case, be sure to do the following:
- Get in contact with whoever is responsible for managing the property as soon as possible (either landlord or agent).
- Raise your concerns in writing so you have a record of raising the issue and retain a copy for yourself.
- If you do not report a minor issue straightaway and it develops into a major problem, you run the risk of losing your deposit or being taken to court by the landlord in an attempt to recover their costs.
- Once made aware of the issue, the landlord should tell you when the repairs will be completed. As long as reasonable notice is given (24 hours or more), the landlord – or the hired workpeople – should be given access to the property at reasonable times.