A significant number of UK landlords are putting themselves and their tenants at risk by not complying with required safety regulations, a new survey has suggested.
Almost half of tenants living in privately rented accommodation with gas mains say they have not had their gas appliances checked in the last 12 months, according to research by property management platform Plentific.
This is despite gas safety checks being a legal requirement.
Landlords are legally obliged to have a gas safety inspection carried out on their property every year, if their property is supplied by gas
Landlords are obliged to have a gas safety inspection carried out on their property every year, if their property is supplied by gas.
Housing associations and local authorities seem to be better equipped to ensure these checks are carried out, with 82 per cent of social housing residents confirming an inspection was carried out within the last year.
Almost a third of private renters claim they do not have a smoke alarm on each floor of their home, whilst 56 per cent say they do not have a carbon monoxide alarm installed.
In social housing, one in five claim to not have smoke alarms on each storey, with 44 per cent saying there is no sign of a carbon monoxide alarm.
Landlords are also required to install smoke alarms on every floor of a property, and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room where there is a gas appliance.
Residents who have had their gas appliances checked in the last year, according to the report
Roughly 10.5million homes in the UK are rented; 5.5million to private tenants and 5million to social housing residents, according to figures from the latest UK housing review.
‘Social landlords care deeply about ensuring their tenants’ homes are safe and comfortable,’ said Catherine Ryder, director of policy and research at the National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations.
‘While our sector always strives to do better, this report’s own findings show that social landlords fare better than private landlords at providing smoke alarms and gas safety certificates.’
The consequences of not having an up to date gas safety certificate can be serious for landlords.
Smoke alarms should be fitted on every floor of a rental property
‘If a property is missing a gas safety certificate, they can be fined £6,000 per appliance or receive a 6 month prison term,’ said Rik Smith, head of tenancy services at lettings software business Goodlord.
‘If a tenant dies as a result, the landlord can be prosecuted for manslaughter.’
The survey also found 61 per cent of renters in private accommodation and 73 per cent in social housing had not seen their property’s Energy Performance Certificate.
EPC is a rating scheme which bands properties between A and G, with an A rating being the most efficient and G being the least efficient.
Landlords must have an EPC rating of E or above in order to be able to let their properties
Properties require a minimum EPC rating of E in order to be let, and landlords must provide a copy of the EPC report to the tenant.
‘Resident safety should be of paramount importance to landlords, and failing to comply with legal requirements could put both residents and landlords at risk,’ said Cem Savas, chief executive at Plentific.
‘There are a number of complexities involved and landlords must ensure they understand the rules and different requirements of legislation to ensure they do not fall foul of the law.’
What about repairs?
The survey found that 86 per cent of renters had requested repairs or maintenance from their current landlord.
Around 60 per cent have had work completed, 25 per cent are still waiting, and just under one in ten had the request refused by their landlord.
On average, it takes 9.5 days for requested works to be completed by private landlords – a slight improvement on social housing providers which take 10.8 days.
Garden repairs and fixing property damage were among the maintenance requests most likely to be refused by landlords, according to the Plentific survey
Over a third of private renters had been left waiting for over four weeks to have a maintenance issue addressed.
More than a third of renters in the UK have taken it upon themselves to organise contractors and tradesmen to carry out repairs, and 16 per cent did so without their landlord’s permission.
‘Residents should not be required to act on maintenance issues themselves and the fact that plumbers, electricians and gas engineers are amongst the most frequently used professionals in these circumstances suggests that something is going wrong,’ said Savas.
|Gas Safety certificate||£70 per test (depends on number of gas appliances)||Valid for 1 year|
|Electrical (EICR)||£120 per test (depends on property size)||Valid for 5 years|
|Smoke alarms||£30 per alarm||Working device on every floor|
|Carbon monoxide alarms||£30 per alarm||Working device in room where gas appliance is|
‘Renters should be able to rely on their landlord to provide the repairs and maintenance services that they need and, if they do not, it not only impacts resident satisfaction but also leaves landlords without oversight.
‘Without a level of control of the work taking place within their properties, landlords will have little idea of what to expect when they take the property back, which could be a costly mistake.’
What should tenants do if they feel their property isn’t being maintained properly?
Ultimately, if a tenant is harmed as a result of their landlord failing to meet their obligations, they may have a right to sue the landlord for damages.
If a tenant feels that the rental property isn’t up to standards, the first step should be to approach the landlord.
‘If you feel that your rental property isn’t meeting the necessary requirements, the first step is to tell your landlord,’ said Smith.
‘They have a duty of care to repair a property in a reasonable amount of time.
‘If the landlord doesn’t act or doesn’t respond, tell your local council – it has the legal powers to get repairs done quickly, at no cost to you.’
Whilst many landlords adhere to the regulations, the survey suggests that a significant proportion who may be failing in their responsibilities.
Landlords run the risk of heavy fines and even prison sentences for ignoring these obligations.
‘Ensuring the safety of rented housing is of paramount importance,’ said a spokesperson for the National Residential Landlords Association.
‘We provide our members with all the resources and support they need to ensure they fully comply with all their legal obligations.
‘There can be no excuse for providing unsafe accommodation to tenants.’
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