Safety in private renting
Safety requirements to keep in mind when viewing private accommodation options.
Landlords have a legal responsibility to make sure the accommodation they provide for you to live in is safe and in good repair.
When you first look round, and later on when you move in, keep the following safety issues in mind – and raise anything you're concerned about straight away.
Rules and regulations
There are different requirements for fire safety, depending on the type of property you move into.
Properties let as a ‘house in multiple occupation’ (HMO) need to have certain fire precaution measures in place, as agreed by the local authority. If you have any doubts what fire protection measures should be in your property, contact your local environmental health office for advice, either through Bristol City Council or South Gloucestershire Council depending on where you live.
Even if the property isn’t classed as an HMO, your landlord legally has to provide smoke detectors on each floor.
Make sure you don’t tamper with any fire protection measures in the property, as these are there for your safety.
It’s now a legal requirement for landlords to ensure all gas appliances are maintained in a safe condition (under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998). They also need to be checked at least every 12 months by a ‘gas safe’ registered engineer.
Your landlord should give you a copy of their annual gas safety certificate, confirming the safety of all gas appliances, before you move in.
If the electrical wiring is sub-standard in your property, sockets are overloaded or electrical appliances are faulty, you could be at risk of fire.
Your landlord has a responsibility to ensure the wiring and appliances are safe and in good working order. However, it’s your responsibility to check the condition of the appliances you bring into the property.
Make sure you don’t overload the electricity supply and report any hazards to your landlord as soon as you spot them.
Legislation is now in place to improve the safety of let and furnished accommodation. All furniture that comes with the property has to comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988/89. You can get more information on this from the Trading Standards Office.
To minimise the risk of break-ins and improve your personal safety, it’s important to be aware of potential security risks. If there are security measures in place in your property, such as window locks, chains on doors or alarms, make sure you use them.
Once you move in, your landlord has a duty to maintain the property to a reasonable standard and keep all services in proper repair and working order.
Let your landlord know as soon as you’re aware of a problem in the property. It’s a good idea to send any requests for repairs by email and keep a copy, so you’ve got a record of when you sent it and any response you do or don’t receive.
If you experience problems with your landlord not carrying out repairs, contact either Bristol City Council or South Gloucestershire Council, depending on where you live. They’ll advise you and, if needed, can use their powers to insist works are carried out within a specified timescale. You can also contact the Students' Union Advice Centre.
Energy Proficiency Certificate (EPC)
The landlord must provide an EPC within the property, this is valid for ten years. For more information about an EPC certificate please check the Government EPC guidelines.