Report finds ‘serious threat’ to occupants health and safety
A new report has found that one in eight private rented homes pose ‘serious threat’ to occupants’ health and safety
A damning report from The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has revealed that fast-rising rents and low standards in the private sector mean that ‘safe, suitable housing is too often out of reach for renters’.
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The Public Accounts Committee’s chair Dame Meg Hillier says issues including ‘unsafe conditions, overcrowding, harassment, discrimination, and dodgy evictions are still a huge issue in the PRS’:
Renters with a problem are faced with a complex and costly redress system which is not fit for purpose and many tenants give up at the first hurdle.
Hillier said there needed to be a “change in balance” and that it was expected that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities would ‘start to turn around its record on addressing the desperate housing crisis in this country.’
Other report findings
The report also states that:
- Ministers should commit to properly funding local authorities to police the sector
- Tenants should be better informed of their rights
- Proper redress should be brought in
Finally, the report urges ministers to:
- Make it simpler for councils to bring in landlord licensing schemes
- End the ‘postcode lottery’ of local enforcement
Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the NRLA, said
Tenants and responsible landlords are being let down by the pitiful lack of enforcement action by councils using the array of powers available to clamp down on bad practice in the sector.
Beadle feels that the reforms have often been ‘piecemeal’ and based on ‘insufficient information to understand their true impact or how workable they are’.
A landlord’s responsibilities
You have multiple responsibilities as landlord, but the key legal ones are:
- Gas Safety. Update this every year to ensure your tenants are safe in your property
- EICR. This electrical check happens every 5 years and again, ensures the safety of your property
- EPC. This rates the efficiency of your property and should be updated every 10 years. However, with the likelihood of an increase in minimum EPC ratings in the future, we recommend that you update your EPC after any major changes that could improve the rating
- Fire Safety. You must ensure that every floor of your property has a working fire alarm. If you have any solid fuel burning appliances, you’ll need a carbon monoxide alarm too
Taking care of these legal requirements ensure that your rental properties are both safe and comfortable. However, we’d go a step further with our recommendations:
- Home Emergency Insurance. Make sure that you are able to financially manage any issues in the property immediately
- Rent Guarantee Insurance. Cover yourself in the event of rent arrears, so that you don’t need to worry if your tenant cannot afford the rent that month
- Plan in advance. If you are in this for the long haul, you’re likely to need to update your properties every few years. So make sure you are budgeting for these well in advance