5 ways landlords put tenants at risk
With ‘accidental landlord’ numbers still very high, AXA Business Insurance has conducted research that suggests that many of them may be putting their tenants in danger and risking fines or even prison by failing to comply with common laws.
Here are the top 5 mistakes landlords make.
- 50 per cent of landlords do not get their fire alarms checked every year.Government statistics for 2011/12 show that 36% of fire deaths occurred in properties where no smoke alarm is fitted.
Properties that are let furnished or part furnished must comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988. Any soft furnishings left in the property must have fire labels attached and landlords have a responsibility to fit smoke alarms and to ensure they are regularly tested and well maintained.
Fitting smoke alarms saves lives as long as the smoke alarms work.
- A third of those questioned by AXA get their boilers checked less than once a year, and 23 per cent, only check every three years or less. Legally, a check is required every year for gas-fired boilers and an annual check of all other types is advised.
- A similar number do not get other gas appliances checked every year, either. About 30 people die every year in the UK through poorly installed or badly maintained gas appliances and flues resulting in deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.Landlords are responsible for the safety of tenants and the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 enforced by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).
Severe penalties for non-compliance can be imposed and deaths could result in manslaughter charges. Non compliance is a criminal offence and courts can impose unlimited fines and custodial sentences.
- 65% cent of those with a chimney will get it swept less than once every three years – the National Association of Chimney Sweeps recommends cleaning once a year for smokeless fuel, gas and oil and more regularly for other types of fuel. In 2011-2012 there were around 6,000 chimney fires in England alone
- Nearly a third of landlords check the electrics in their rented property less than once in three years, and while a professional check is recommended once every five years by the Electrical Safety Council, a “visual check” by the landlord is recommended much more regularly. Half of all domestic fires are caused by faulty electrics and one person a week dies in the UK because of an electrical accident
Steve Wright, Fenn Wright Partner and lettings expert in Colchester provides the following advice: “It is better to engage professionals in such an important area than risk going it alone – unless you are confident you have the expertise and time to meet your obligations. Using a letting agent does, of course, involve fees but the safety of your tenants and property, and the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you are complying with all laws, is invaluable.”
At Fenn Wright, the lettings administration team supports all our landlords from a central base at our Stanway head office. This team specialises in property management and maintenance and works hard to make sure our landlord clients understand and meet their obligations to tenants.