A pre-tenancy checklist should help you make sure you've covered all the necessities before you let your property.

  • Update your insurance to take into account that your property is going to be let.
  • Obtain the permission from your mortgage lender.
  • Make sure all furniture and furnishings comply with the latest fire regulations.
  • Ensure that all gas appliances and equipment have been serviced by a CORGI-registered engineer and that safety records are kept in a safe place.
  • Make sure that all electrical wiring has been checked and safety approved by a qualified electrician.

Health and safety – Minimum Standards

To let your property successfully and safely, there are a number of health and safety guidelines you have follow to both prevent tenants being injured and you being sued or prosecuted.

Furniture and furnishings

Regulations about fire resistant furniture are strict for rental accommodation and you must ensure all relevant items meet the guidelines set under the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Amendment Regulations 1993. As a general guide, furniture made before 1988 is unlikely to meet the standards and should be replaced before letting your property.

Any items that contain upholstery and could be used inside the property, should be checked, including:

  • Beds, headboards, mattresses, futons and sofa beds
  • Children's or nursery furniture
  • Garden furniture that might be used within the property
  • Cushions, pillows

Items that are exempt from this legislation include:

  • Sleeping bags, duvets, pillow cases and blankets
  • Carpets and curtains
  • Furniture made before 1950

To check items for the fire safety standards, look for a permanent label stating the regulation it conforms to. Bed bases and mattresses are not required to have this label attached, but they should have a label stating compliance with ignitability tests.

If you're in any doubt that a bed or sofa, for example, may not meet the required standard, replace them. It is better to be safe than sorry!

Gas safety

The main risk of not servicing or maintaining gas equipment is a serious gas explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning. Landlords are required by law to service all gas-related equipment at least once every 12 months. Landlords must also keep a record of regular checks and the condition of equipment at all times. You must also provide tenants with an annual gas safety certificate. If you do not provide your tenant with an annual gas safety certificate, you are breaking the law.

Landlords are also responsible for providing tenants with instructions for the safe use of gas appliances and equipment.

What used to be called a CORGI gas safety certificate has been replaced with what is now known a Gas Safe. Instead of being run by CORGI, the Government set up its own system of registration for gas engineers. If you are a landlord, any gas appliances such as boilers and heaters within your property must be inspected once a year and a certificate (sometimes also called a report) produced by a registered engineer and any work done to make it safe to set standards laid down by Gas Safe. This report must be given to your tenants within 28 days of being completed.

Electrical safety

The electrical wiring in your property must be safe and in good working order throughout. You must also ensure you have enough sockets to meet the need of tenants. Contact an electrician approved by the NAPIT, NIEIC & BRE for Electrical Inspection Contractors.

If you are planning on providing electrical equipment to your tenants, you should ensure that all items are regularly tested for safety and labelled accordingly. Get an electrician to make the necessary checks before each let and then periodically after that. Keep all electrical testing reports for your own records.

Rent Safe

Rent Safe provides potential tenants with a list of landlords that have reached accredited status under the Rent Safe Scheme, together with an overview of the number of properties that have reached the accredited minimum standards required for 3, 4 or 5 stars. As well as appearing on the Rent Safe register landlords will receive a Certificate of Accreditation which they are obliged to provide tenants with sight of upon request.

By using an accredited landlord you know, before looking at a property, that the landlord:

  • takes their tenant's welfare seriously
  • takes action to resolve issues quickly
  • works to make sure their properties continue to meet recognised housing standards

Rent Safe is a voluntary scheme and whilst all landlords are able to register their properties, only those that meet an accredited rating are listed on the Rent Safe register.