General Safety In Letting Properties
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Why landlords should make absolutely sure that their properties are entirely safe for tenants?
Safety aspects come under criminal law – So a simple issue of maintenance becomes a criminal offence and a landlord can face a term in jail, a heavy fine, or both.
In addition, there could be a liability to the tenant for civil damages – these can be substantial.
Civil liability in safety matters is becoming an increasingly important issue for landlords.
Now that lawyers actively promote their services and work on a no-win no-fee basis there is an increasing number of accident claims. Damages can be substantial so you must carry specialist insurance.
The Consumer Protection Act (1987) and The General Product Safety Regulations 1994 (European Communities Act 1972) require: products supplied to consumers in the course of business must be safe. Consumers must be supplied with information and warnings about the use of products supplied. Suppliers must make themselves aware of the risks associated with the use of products supplied.
It is a criminal offence for a landlord to supply any item with a property which is unsafe. Some items such as oil heaters, portable LPG heaters, DIY tools, glass furniture and garden tools are particularly hazardous – my recommendations to most of my landlords would be well advised not to supply any of these. Things like lawn mower and washing machine are required and necessary they are ok to provide as long as the tenants have been given the operational manual or its new.
Landlords should not forget to check the property before a new letting to ensure that no items have been left by previous tenants, which could be defective.
Landlords should pick this up when they do the Inventory. By keeping the items a landlord provide to a minimum, especially upholstered furnishings and electrical appliances, landlords are reducing their risk considerably.
It is important to remember that landlords providing an appliance or furniture that does not comply with the respective regulations is a criminal offence and may result in:
- A fine of £5,000 per non compliant item
- Your property insurance may be invalidated
- A possible manslaughter charge in the event of a death
- Six months of imprisonment
- The tenant may sue you for civil damages
Regulations regarding safety in tenanted properties are enforced locally by the local authority:
Trading Standards, the Health & Safety Executive, Environment Health Officers and local Fire Officers.
What landlords should be aware of in ensuring that they are not open to a successful prosecution is that they can demonstrate that they have carried out their duties with “due diligence”.
This legal term refers to the fact that they have taken all reasonable steps to avoid committing an offence and what is more is that a landlord has the documentary evidence available which proves this.
The main areas of safety that landlords need to be concerned about are:
- Gas safety
- Electric safety
- Fire safety
- Albert Grace Estate Agents can help you with full property managements and compliance of the laws.