AA Legal Documents

Health & safety


Landlords are generally responsible for the maintenance and major repairs to a property. This includes repairs to the structure and exterior of the property, heating and hot water installations, basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary installations. The structure and exterior of a flat includes any common areas that the landlord doesn't own but has any rights over, such as a right of access. These areas include, for example, paths or passageways leading to the flat. Even if the landlord doesn't own these areas, they'll be responsible for any loss or damage that the tenant suffers as a result of disrepair of these areas.

Housing standards (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)

A property must also be free from health and safety hazards, so care should be taken to ensure that:

  • Water, electricity and gas supplies, and the sanitation (drains, basins, sinks, baths and WCs) are in working order
  • The room and water heating equipment are in working order
  • The property is free from damp that could damage the health of the occupier

A property must also have:

  • Adequate heating, lighting and ventilation
  • An adequate supply of piped, wholesome water, satisfactory facilities for preparing and cooking food, including a sink with a satisfactory supply of hot and cold water
  • A suitably located toilet and a suitable sewer and drainage system
  • A suitably located fixed bath or shower and hand basin, each of which has a satisfactory supply of hot and cold water

If the property you let out does not satisfy these criteria and is a health risk, a tenant may be able to take legal action against you.

Housing standards (Scotland)

In Scotland, all private rented housing must meet the 'repairing standard' as set out in the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006. The standard must be met prior to the commencement of any lease and at all times during the term of the lease. The 6 requirements of the repairing standard are:

  • The property is wind and watertight and in all other respects reasonably fit for human habitation;
  • The structure and exterior of the property (including drains, gutters and external pipes) are in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order;
  • The installations in the property for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation, space heating and heating water are in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order;
  • Any fixtures, fittings and appliances provided by the landlords under the tenancy are in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order;
  • Any furnishings provided by the landlords under the tenancy are capable of being used safely for the purpose for which they are designed, and
  • That the property has satisfactory provision for detecting fires and for giving warning in the event of fire or suspected fire.

Gas and electrical safety

You must ensure that all gas appliances and installations you supply are maintained in good order and that an annual safety check is carried out by someone who is registered. In Great Britain, this check must be carried out by someone who is registered with the Gas Safe Register.

You must keep a record of the safety checks, and must usually issue it to the occupier within 28 days of each annual check. Landlords should retain their gas safety records for 2 years. The occupier is responsible for maintaining gas appliances that they own, or is entitled to take with them at the end of the letting.

By law, you must ensure that the electrical system and any electrical appliances supplied with the let such as cookers, kettles, toasters, washing machines and immersion heaters are safe to use. If you are supplying new appliances, you should also provide any accompanying instruction booklets.

For more information, see our 'Gas safety' and 'Household electrical safety' sections.

Fire safety

Fire safety for any home is important, but if a property has multiple occupants it must be considered seriously since the risk of fire is greater.

As for any other home, it is a good idea to ensure that:

  • All occupiers know their way round the house to help prevention and escape from fire
  • Smoke alarms are fitted; ideally one should be fitted on each floor of the property
  • A fire blanket is placed in the kitchen
  • It has a fire extinguisher

In Scotland, there must be at least one working smoke alarm on each floor of a property. Smoke alarms installed after 3 September 2007 must be mains wired, including replacement alarms. Higher standards apply to Homes in Multiple Occupation.

Fire safety of furniture

If you supply furniture or furnishings with the let, you must ensure that they meet the fire resistance requirements, sometimes known as the 'match test' in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.

For more information, see our 'Fire safety' section.