Warning to accidental landlords to make sure their property meets safety regs

Many accidental landlords in the UK who have rented out their homes as they have been unable to sell during the economic downturn are simply not fulfilling their legal duties to maintain their rental properties, it is claimed.

As a result are putting their tenants in potential danger and themselves at financial risk, according to AXA Business Insurance.

The phenomenon of the accidental landlord has grown rapidly over recent years as the economy has depressed the housing market. AXA believes that around 70% of residential landlords rent just one property and that up to a third of these are accidental landlords who can’t sell their property or who inherited rather than planned the ownership of the property.

Its research has found that a third of those questioned get their boilers checked less than once a year, and 23% only check every three years or less. Legally, a check is required every year. A similar number do not get other gas appliances checked every year, again, a legal requirement for rented properties.

It also found that 65% of those with a chimney in the property will get it swept less than once every three years yet 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.

Nearly a third 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.

Only 50% landlords get their fire alarms checked every year and as well as the regular checks required to keep the property safe, landlords are also obliged to make sure furniture is fire proof, fire extinguishers are provided and fire escapes are kept accessible for tenants.

‘Accidental landlords are, as the name suggests, people who never really intended to take on a rental property. And it seems that many are not really aware of the responsibilities that come with the role, leaving themselves and their tenants extremely vulnerable. Things like gas and electrics are potential killers and need to be taken seriously,’ said Darrell Sansom, managing director of AXA Business Insurance.

Meanwhile, the research also shows that around half of accidental landlords were also neglecting other key areas of maintenance with drains, guttering and pipe insulation left unchecked for at least three years. And nearly two thirds had not had the burglar alarm checked for three years or more.

AXA warns that if failure to maintain any of the above is shown to be the cause of an insurance claim it could lead to that claim being turned down. And as 73% of those questioned had less than £1,000 in savings set aside for emergencies and 18% had nothing, the firm warns that the consequences could have serious implications for landlords.

‘As an insurer, we see the results of a failure to maintain properties and these can be devastating. We would urge all landlords to check out and understand their obligations and responsibilities to their tenants and how they need to insure themselves against the worst happening,’ said Sansom.

Article courtesy of Property Wire

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