Moving into a new house is an exciting new step. Once you have found your new home, aside from packing your boxes, there is one more thing to check: the documentation that ensures your home is safe for occupancy.
Landlords have a responsibility to ensure the property meets health and safety laws. This translates into certificates and reports that prove your new home is safe for you to live in. Before moving in, the home must have been checked for electricity, gas, and fire safety, and these checks must be performed regularly. Along with your contract and deposit protection scheme details, you will be receiving a few more documents. Let's break down the documentation in more detail.
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) measures a property's energy efficiency and is valid for ten years. It is obtained by an accredited professional who carries out checks, such as inspection on heating systems and controls, and publishes the survey findings under the EPC.
The certificate shows on a scale from A-G what the current rating is and which category it falls into, with 'A' marking the most energy-efficient homes and 'G' the least. The more energy-efficient a property is, the lower the energy bills are likely to be.
As of April 2018, minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) are being applied to residential properties – this means that the property has to be rated 'E' or above so that it can be let out to renters.
Electrical Safety, EICR
The electrical safety record, known as Electrical Installation Condition Report EICR, expresses the newest piece of legislation, and it has been required for all rented homes since 1 April 2021.
An approved electrician performs an in-depth assessment of the electrical systems to ensure all electrical systems and installations within a building are safe, correctly installed, and well maintained.
These tests are performed every five years.
Gas Safety Certificate
In any home with gas appliances, such as a central heating boiler or gas hob, a gas safe certificate is required to verify the gas supply is delivering gas safely and directly to your appliances and that all devices are safe and in good working order. In short, the gas safety certificate records the condition of all gas features, appliances, and gas infrastructure at the property.
The landlord is responsible for organizing a gas safety check with an approved Gas Safe engineer every twelve months and providing a copy of the certificate to the tenants. You can request to see this before moving in and double-check it is renewed in due time.
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
Working alarms save lives. According to a government survey, you are at least 4 times more likely to die in the event of a fire in your home if there is no working smoke alarm. The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 came into force in October of the same year in order to minimise risk and ensure renters stay safe.
At least one smoke alarm should be installed on every floor of the building and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g., a coal fire, wood-burning stove). After that, the landlord must ensure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.
Have you ever wondered how to operate your electrical appliances safely? Most domestic appliances are straightforward to use, but many of them have more than the standard features. You can discover them in detail with thanks to the user manual, from how to quickly check what could be at fault with your washing machine to the most efficient dishwasher program.
Although providing user manuals is not a legal requirement, it's good practice, and landlords ensure you receive them once you move in.
These pieces of documentation have been in place to ensure you are safe in your rental property. Once you move in, make sure you have received the correct documentation, and all is up to scratch. If there's anything you are unsure about, always ask your landlord or letting agent.