Health and safety in rented accommodation

Landlords are generally responsible for property maintenance and major repairs. This includes repairs to the structure and exterior, to heating and hot water systems, basins, sinks, baths and other sanitaryware.

Housing standards

A property should be safe and healthy for occupiers, so responsibility should be taken to make sure that:

  • the dwelling is capable of providing adequate heating, which ideally means controllable central heating and insulation, with equipment and the fabric of the building in good repair
  • electricity and gas supplies, and the sanitation (drains, basins, sinks, baths and WCs) in working order
  • there are no fall or trip hazards
  • water heating equipment is in working order
  • the property is free from damp

Gas and electrical safety

The landlord must make sure that:

  • all gas appliances and fittings are maintained in good order
  • gas boilers get an annual safety check - carried out by someone who is registered with the Gas Safe Register
  • a record of the safety checks is kept and issued to you within 28 days of each annual check

The occupier is responsible for maintaining gas appliances which they own, or are entitled to take with them at the end of the letting.

By law, the landlord must make sure that the electrical system and any electrical appliances supplied with the let such as cookers, kettles, toasters, washing machines and immersion heaters are safe to use.

If the landlord supplies new appliances, they should also provide any instruction booklets.

If Northern Ireland Electricity believes that the electricity at your property is unsafe, it can turn off the supply.

Carbon monoxide (CO)

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas which is difficult to detect. It is formed when domestic fuels such as gas, coal or wood are burned and can cause serious brain injuries or even death.

To lessen the chances of CO poisoning, you should make sure that all fuel burning appliances are installed and regularly maintained by a suitably qualified engineer.

You should also make sure that rooms are well ventilated when an appliance is used and fit a suitable CO alarm.

Fire prevention

Statistics show that homes in Northern Ireland are at a high risk from fires of an electrical origin. 

You should take measures to prevent a fire in your home:

  • fit a smoke alarm and check the batteries regularly
  • take care when cooking with hot oil
  • be careful with cigarettes and candles
  • close inside doors at night
  • switch off electrical appliances when not in use
  • Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) provide a free Home Fire Safety Check
  • Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service
  • Fire prevention

House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

If the Housing Executive considers the property to be a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and subject to licensing, the landlord must also meet the conditions for fire safety:

  • there has to be an adequate means of escape depending on the size of the property
  • there has to be smoke alarms and fire extinguishing equipment

Also, by law, the landlord must:

  • make sure that all the gas appliances they provide are maintained in good order and that a Gas Safe-registered plumber carries out a safety check each year
  • maintain all electrical installations and any electrical appliances they provide such as cookers, kettles and toasters and make sure they are safe to use
  • make sure any furniture and furnishings they provide meet the fire resistance regulations

If the HMO you live in isn't up to standard, you can complain to your local Housing Executive office.

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