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  • Letting property, involves minimum requirements, rules, housing standards and certification for landlords and their letting agents to comply with.
  • Any neglect, could result in: compromised safety,  tenant fatality, landlords / letting agents suffering loss, being sued or prosecuted.
  • A good way to ensure compliance is to have a check list.  Do not rely on memory or others.
  • Computer software systems employed by letting agents provide reminders to renew certificates (gas, electric, EPC).
  • Spot checking is prudent to ensure that any systems relied on, actually work.  Some computer systems only provide reminders once a minimum of basic information is uploaded.  Failure to upload could result in the absence of a reminder.
  • Should a box remain unticked it is possible for a reminder to be neglected.
  • Having established a sound infrastructure it can be beneficial to go beyond mere compliance.  Often the cost to supply and fit say one mains wired smoke-alarm is not much less than fitting say a carbon monoxide alarm at the same time.
  • Fires emanating in the loft are unlikely to be detected until too late.  Likewise a gas escape could result in an explosion. A faulty boiler could result in CO poisoning. So why not fit: a smoke detector in the loft, a gas detector near gas appliances and a CO detector near the gas boiler?
  • Leydon Lettings supply all three.
  • Of course there is a cost attached. Of course it is not a legal requirement so some argue why bother?  There are, however, significant and compelling reasons for landlords to go over the top: their tenants are safer, the landlord's property is better protected, it is less likely that a landlord will suffer rent loss due to preventable demolition. Your insurer is also likely to agree a lower premium - to say nothing of the primary motivation - to protect our tenants.
  • Some landlords are unconcerned about such matters.  So allow me to impart some additional motivation.  Should an incident occur, and a landlord might otherwise be guilty of negligence, he can rely on the defence of due diligence if: the landlord can establish that he took all reasonable steps to avoid the incident, which despite his efforts, nevertheless occurred.  He will not then be guilty of the offence!
  • Imagine that a tenanted house burned down due to say: 1) faulty boiler, 2)electrical fault, 3)gas leak, or 4) through careless tenants lighting candles.  What action could a landlord take to demonstrate due diligence?  Let's take each point in turn:
  • Most landlords erroneously rely on a gas safety certificate as sufficient safety protection.  Wrong!  This is merely minimal compliance.  A family car requires an MOT legally.  Few would neglect to service their car in reliance on an MOT simply because it is not a legal requirement to service.  If a motoring accident resulted in a negligence claim for compensation, it is possible for the vehicle owner to be sued in tort law, via civil litigation, for consequential loss resulting from failure to service the vehicle.
  • It is no different for a rented home!  Failure to service a boiler (in reliance on the gas safety certificate alone) is unlikely to protect a landlord against a civil claim.  This is particularly so if the landlord can be shown to have failed to have taken sufficient reasonable steps to prevent the incident!
  • Likewise boilers require periodic servicing to ensure safety.  This is in addition to gas safety certification.  However, if the landlord can demonstrate that he not only complied with the minimum requirements, but he also more-than complied by fitting say: fire doors though not required;  an annual boiler-service not required, then such landlords could successfully argue against an allegation of negligence.
  • Candles can be discouraged by including a prohibition in the tenancy agreement.  If ignored by tenants then the landlord can claim due diligence that they at least tried to prevent the mischief which nevertheless happened.
  • Smoke detectors are a legal requirement (minimum on on every floor) and Carbon Monoxide detectors where a solid fuel burner is present in a habitable room; gas and CO detectors even where not required are safer even though they can cause significant disruption and cost when false alarms sound due to tenant misdeeds but both tenants and parents expect a free call out response.  Until this perception is resolved, few landlords will volunteer for such costly and thankless disruption.  Often body and hair sprays will set off detectors due to such toxins triggering alarms.

See also

Published: 24 September 2015 Last Updated: 20 March 2022