Gas, fire & electrical safety checks in the private rented sector

The Housing Division of the Scottish Government has issued updated guidance for private landlords to say that landlords and letting agents should postpone routine certification requirements during the current crisis and carry them out as soon as possible after it is over.

Landlords may wish to note that under legislation relating to the enforcement of the repairing standard a landlord can be considered to have complied with the standard if the work has not been done because it would endanger any person.

Where a  landlord considers that they are unable to comply with their statutory duty, due to overriding public health concerns, people self-isolating, or the availability of staff and appropriately qualified electricians available at the right time to carry out safety inspections, they should keep a record of this, note that the inspection has been postponed due to COVID-19, and keep the tenant advised about what they have done.

The relevant extract from the guidance is shown below.

Q: What about my legal obligations to provide regular gas, electrical and fire safety inspections? Will I be prosecuted if I can’t get access because myself or my tenants are self-isolating?

A: Landlords and letting agents should postpone routine certification requirements during the crisis and carry them out  as soon as possible after it is over.

Where inspections have already been carried out, documents can be provided by post or in some circumstances it may be possible to provide digital copies.

We are encouraging local authorities and other enforcement agencies to take a pragmatic, common-sense approach to enforcement in these unprecedented times.

Electrical safety in privately rented properties

The Housing Scotland Act 2006 requires landlords to ensure that an electrical safety inspection by a competent person is carried out before a tenancy commences or at intervals of no more than five years.

A landlord could show reasonable steps by keeping copies of all communications they have had with their tenants and with electricians as they tried to arrange the work, including any replies they have had.

Landlords may also want to provide other evidence they have that the installation, appliance or flue is in a good condition while they attempt to arrange works.

If you are not able to gain access to the property due to restrictions in place to tackle COVID-19, or are not able to engage a contractor to carry out the necessary work, we recommend you document your attempts to do so and all correspondence with your tenants.

Further information

Read the full updated guidance here
Read the latest guidance from the HSE here