By Sarah Epton, Health & Safety Compliance Manager at SBA Property Management
Landlords, property developers and RMCs working today are subject to an ever-growing list of compliance requirements for building safety.
Making sure properties are well maintained in line with the latest regulations can feel like a thankless task – nevertheless, it is one of the most important parts of managing a property.
There’s a lot to consider, so where do you start? Which regulations apply to you? And what can you do to ensure your property meets the highest standards for health and safety compliance?
That’s where we can support you. Read on for our advice and guidance…
The importance of health and safety compliance
It’s always in the best interests of landlords and managing agents to conduct regular safety checks and carry out any required building work as soon as possible.
Keeping residents safe is one of the key responsibilities of freeholders and the foundation of any good landlord-tenant relationship.
Not only does non-compliance leave you liable to serious fines, but it may also prevent you from being able to lease or sell your property.
Having up-to-date safety certificates, on the other hand, will help your property to retain its value, putting you in a stronger position when letting.
What are the key elements of health and safety compliance?
There are several different safety risks that the regulatory framework seeks to mitigate. These areas include fire safety, gas safety, electrical safety, asbestos and legionella.
Fire safety regulations tend to vary depending on the size and design of the building. However, in general, fire safety compliance requires freeholders to carry out a fire safety assessment, take appropriate responses and then regularly review the assessment.
In practice, this may mean carrying out maintenance checks on the fire alarm, ensuring internal fire doors are installed or removing combustible materials from the property.
Fire safety regulations have changed considerably in recent years so it’s an area for landlords, property developers and RMCs to pay special attention to.
Freeholders are required to have yearly safety checks carried out by a registered engineer on all gas appliances.
Property owners must keep detailed records of their gas safety certificates and share copies of these with the tenants. They must also inform tenants how to turn off the gas and what to do in the event of an emergency.
As with gas appliances, electrical installations should also be checked regularly to ensure they comply with the latest safety standards.
It’s recommended that wiring, sockets and other electrical systems are tested by a qualified electrician at least every five years.
A report is issued after the test certifying the compliance of the installation which landlords should present to tenants on request.
Asbestos remains an issue in many older buildings. If there is asbestos in your property, you must inform tenants, contractors or any other occupiers where it is located and what can be done to prevent exposure.
For some types of buildings, freeholders are required by law to have an asbestos survey. It’s recommended that management plans for dealing with asbestos are regularly reviewed, especially ahead of any major building work.
Legionella is a type of bacteria carried in water that residential landlords are required by law to guard against.
Regular checks must be carried out on the water supply system to identify potential risks and make necessary changes to ensure the water is not contaminated.
Landlords and managing agents should keep detailed records of the legionella risk assessment and carry out checks at least every two years.
Get advice and support for meeting health and safety compliance requirements.
New legislation coming into effect
A lot of regulatory changes are currently coming to effect in the UK, with the government urgently seeking to improve building safety standards.
The Building Safety Act 2022, which came into force last year, lays out a new framework for the design and management of higher-risk buildings that are at least 18 metres in height.
A new control authority, the Building Safety Regulator, has also been set up to ensure the safety and standards of all buildings.
Broadly speaking, the changes place greater responsibility on landlords to rectify any safety risks, calling for a more proactive and agile approach to managing health and safety.
The Building Safety Act 2022 also stipulates which parties are required to cover the costs of any remedial work. Where the property is occupied as the owner’s main residence and they own no more than three UK properties, the owner will generally be responsible for financing the work.
Landlords, property developers and RMCs would do well to read up on the legislation to better understand their new responsibilities for managing health and safety.
Learn more about the recent changes in building safety regulations below.
Top tips for ensuring high standards of health and safety
From reading up on the latest legislation to keeping detailed health and safety records, there are a few things you can do to make the task of managing compliance more manageable.
Keep up to date with legislation
As recent years show, building safety regulations are always changing, placing different responsibilities on leaseholders.
To keep up with the latest developments, it can be helpful to follow industry leaders and relevant government bodies on social media and in the news.
Conduct regular checks and maintain records
Many aspects of building safety are required by law to be assessed on a regular basis. You may also be required to carry out checks ahead of major works or a new tenancy.
Make sure to keep detailed records of test reports and certificates in case you need to present any documents to tenants or contractors.
Communicate with tenants
As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to keep your property safe for occupiers and to inform them of the appropriate fire safety information.
Maintain regular conversation with tenants to schedule safety checks and share any requested documents.
SBA: Health and safety made simple
If you need any other information about your health and safety responsibilities as a freeholder or need help with navigating the latest compliance, consider getting in touch with a property management company.
As a leading London property management company, we work with a trusted team of surveyors and have the right regulatory expertise to help you keep your property safe and fully compliant with the latest legal requirements.
Our bespoke approach allows us to cater our compliance services to the specific needs of your building. Drawing on our extensive local knowledge and industry expertise, we will ensure any building defects are identified and remediated quickly, keeping you compliant and your residents safe.
Want to learn more? Send us an enquiry on our contact page.