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May 24

by Millie Wickens
New law could see a flood of buy to let complaints

Landlords should expect a flood of renters claiming compensation for poorly maintained homes, according to the boss of a property inspection firm.

This is due to a new law allowing tenants to take their landlords to court for breach of contract if living standards are not sufficient.

Jonathan Senior, CEO and founder of compliance consultancy VeriSmart comments that  claims management companies have already started cold-calling tenants to drum up no-win, no-fee business.

He revealed his firm carried out 60,000 private rented property checks last year and found health and safety hazards in 4,521 of these properties.

The top issue was broken or missing smoke detectors in 40 per cent of homes, followed by trip hazards on stairs at 26 per cent  and electrical faults at another 11 per cent. Many involved three or more health and safety hazards.

Other faults regularly uncovered included no carbon monoxide detector (7 per cent); damp and mould (4 per cent); and uncovered ponds or swimming pools (2 per cent).

The most serious incidents involved risk of part of the home collapsing (2 per cent); fire safety issues (1 per cent), bad hygiene or excessive cold (both 0.6 per cent).

“While many landlords are providing up to scratch accommodation, it’s really quite worrying that we’re seeing so many fail to address some of the most serious hazards in the home,” said VeriSmart Jonathan Senior.

“The lack of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and the danger of falling on stairs ranking as high as they do is particularly worrying. These are classed as category one hazards and so there is no excuse to have them present in a rental property.”

The new Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation Act) 2018, which came into force on 20 March 2019, demands landlords maintain good living standards in rented out homes.

“It is more vital than ever that landlords ensure their properties meet the required minimum health and safety standards,” he said.

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