WHAT DOES THE LAW REQUIRE?
The Law requires goods, including items such as gas cookers/heaters, electrical toasters, TV’s, furniture, nursery equipment, etc., supplied in the course of a business are reasonably safe. Practically all goods, both new and second-hand, have to satisfy general safety provisions. Certain ‘high risk’ goods, including electrical equipment, upholstered furniture, gas cooking appliances, etc., are covered by requirements contained in specific safety regulations.
The provision of such goods in rented accommodation, in the course of a business, is considered to be ‘hiring out’ of those goods, and as such is a ‘supply’ for the purpose of consumer safety legislation. The following notes are intended as a brief guide to the law.
WHO IS AFFECTED?
Those persons letting holiday homes and residential furnished accommodation, either as a principal, on their own behalf or as an agent, on behalf of another, where the supply of the accommodation includes the hiring of consumers goods, such as furniture and domestic appliances.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS?
- Electrical Equipment
All electrical equipment for use on voltages between 50 to 100 volts AC and 75 to 1500 volts DC must be safe and constructed in accordance with principles generally accepted within the member states of the EEC as constituting good engineering practice in relation to safety matters. Electrical equipment satisfying harmonized UK/European safety standards shall be deemed to satisfy the above requirements.
Must I Have Electrical Equipment Tested?
Yes, the law does now stipulate this to protect your tenant from danger and to protect you from possible prosecution and civil litigation.
How Should These Tests Be Conducted?
Tests should be carried out by a competent electrical engineer using adequate test equipment. Ensure the engineer identifies the equipment on the test report and records what tests have been carried out and results. We recommend that this person should mark all equipment with a label, initial and date, to show whether it has passed or failed the test. Use colour coded labels to avoid confusion, i.e. green (pass) and red (fail). We also recommend that all of your staff be advised, in writing that no electrical item should be supplied unless it bears a current ‘Pass’ test label. Keep all test reports for your reference as proof of testing.
What About Plugs On Electrical Appliances?
If an electrical appliance has a plug fitted it must be a ‘standard’ plug, i.e., of an approved type, with live and neutral pins sleeved and having the correct fuse rating for the appliance to which it is connected. This does not have to be a ‘moulded’ type plug but can be a normal re-wired plug. From February 1st 1996, all appliances must be supplied fitted with a standard plug.
Whilst the above advice relates to Electrical Equipment, similar legal requirements apply to gas appliances, in that they should be safe and conform to relevant safety standards. We therefore recommend that a similar testing system, using computer gas engineer, be adopted. In addition, the Gas Safety (Installations and Use) Regulations 1994, impose several new duties on landlords, one of which relates to annual testing of gas appliances in rented accommodation. It is a legal requirement for all rented properties to have a current Gas Safety Certificate conducted by a GAS SAFE Registered plumbing engineer.
(Please note that ‘Installation and Use’ Regulations are enforced by the Health and Safety Executive or the District Council Environmental Health Departments, who should be contacted directly for detailed advice).
How Much Will It Cost?
Forrest Property Services make a charge of £105.00 per certificate. Payment to be received prior to the attendance of the Registered pluming engineer..
Upholstered furniture must comply with the regulations covering flammability but does not have to be labeled. However, furniture which does not carry a permanent label claiming compliance with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 must be suspect as far as meeting the flammability requirements.
Do the Fire Safety Rules apply to all furniture and furnishings?
The definition of domestic furniture is wide. It includes children’s furniture; beds, mattresses, pillows, headboards; sofa beds, futons, scatter cushions and seat pads, garden furniture suitable for indoor use and also stretch covers. A DTI booklet, available from your local Trading Standards Office, gives detailed guidance and illustrates the form of permanent label that should be attached to the item of furniture.
(Note: that there is an explanation for some furniture in rented accommodation. Upholstered furniture included in the letting of a rented accommodation must meet the fire resistance requirements of the 1988 Regulations. However, any upholstered furniture that was being supplied in the same rented accommodation prior to 1st March 1993 need not comply until 1 January 1997. Any furniture that is in replacement of, or in addition to, the existing stock of furniture in that accommodation must meet the fire resistance requirements. All upholstered furniture in properties let for the first time after 1 March 1993, must comply).
WHAT ABOUT LABELS ON BED MATTRESSES?
Whilst bed mattresses are classed as upholstered furniture and must comply with the above Regulations, they were never required to carry a permanent label. However, a blue label claiming compliance with fire safety requirements is normally stitched into the piping at one end of the mattress.
The above requirements related to some categories of high-risk goods. Other goods, including some nursery equipment, are covered by specific regulations. Most other classes of goods are caught by general safety provisions and must be reasonably safe.
When instructions/warnings are necessary for the safe use of goods/appliances, these should be supplied in writing, together with the appliance.
Failure to comply with the safety regulations is a criminal offence, which carries a maximum fine of £50000.