Am I obliged to....

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    A tenant living in a property for the last three years has emailed saying there's no handrail on the stairs and they this is is dangerous. They also say there is a large step down to the shed.

    Am I obliged to provide one? The stairs themselves are quite narrow and have wall either side so I feel a handrail would impact on access and the step down to the shed is, well, a step down.

    Thanks for any advice.

    Has something changed or happened recently to trigger the request.

    You're obliged to let properties that are "safe", but there's no specific definition of that, and it's hard to see why a staircase that was acceptable a couple of years ago isn't safe now.
    But it's unusual for a staircase not to have some kind of handrail.
    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).


      As said, does this tenant now suddenly have a recent disability or health issue ? If the stairs are narrow then putting in a rail may cause issues with getting furniture up and down..... i would find more info on why the sudden request.


        Thanks for the responses.

        It's just something they flagged. I'm a little worried in now one of the falls down the stairs and I'm then liable as they mentioned it and I hadn't actioned.

        Not sure I need to legally?


          Keeping my suspicious mind in gear, you could be right.... if they have asked for a rail and then months later they '' fall'' due to a lack of rail..... could the take legal action ? Maybe, i assume you have landlords insurance with 3rd party liability etc.


            You should fit a handrail at a height between 900mm and 1000mm from the pitch line of the stairs, or the floor for landings. This is approximately 35.4–39 inches. Staircases require at least one handrail: If the stairs are less than 1m wide: provide a handrail on one or both sides.

            Are both side's just a wall?

            Concerning the step the maximum rise for any step is 220mm (min. 150mm), you could possible put a ramp instead.


              Thanks all.

              Yes, both sides are just a wall so it may impact moving furniture.
              Useful information on the step thank you.


                this is the steps. I'm not adverse to putting in a handrail
                Attached Files


                  I had one like this without a handrail. I'm not sure if it's a legal requirement but I decided I didn't want to take the risk and put one in. You can get a pig nose one that doesn't stick out as far as a normal handrail (this is what I used). The other possibility was a rope one but the proper brackets stick out a fair way. Possibly you could use something like a door knocker or tying up ring that sits flush to the wall.


                    It crosses my mind that if you install something that doesn't comply with regulations - eg a rope flush against the wall - then you might be more likely to be opening yourself up to a claim than if you'd left the stairs as they were when you bought the house.


                      There's a difference between the standards that you can apply to your own home and to a let property.

                      In your home, you owe a duty of care to anyone in it, so you don't want anything to be so unsafe as to risk someone hurting themselves.
                      But the duty isn't overburdening - you don't want a pit hidden under a carpet, but you're allowed to assume that the people in your home are generally normal and capable of looking after themselves.
                      Generally, your home shouldn't be unsafe to visitors.

                      Rental properties have to be "safe", which is a much higher standard - because that's significantly more than "not unsafe".

                      There are no black and white rules about this, but it's sensible to consider whether something is safe or not.
                      If you can show you've considered it, it's a useful defence, even if you get the decision wrong.
                      When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                      Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).


                        Another suggestion, may be to get a stair fitting company in and tell you if you require it and what options you may have. Alternatively, you may want to get a risk assessment done (maybe from a local fire station, you may have to pay for it), that way you can see what you have to do.


                          I happy to provide a handrail, it seems the decent thing to but appreciate all the help. I was just wondering if I was legally obliged to but as others have said, there's potential liability if I don't.


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