A landlord in Reading has been fined £12,000 for failing to maintain a rental property.
This is one case of the increasing problem of tenants being put at risk by dangerous housing, says the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC).
Ravinder Singh Takhar, 57, was prosecuted under the Housing Act and Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, for not observing the regulations in place for running Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), and retaining information in regard to the property.
Tenants at Risk in Unacceptable Properties
The house was owned and let by Takhar, who rents the property out as four separate flats. Examples of his negligence include: not testing the fire extinguisher since November 2006; allowing the rear garden to overgrow and collect discarded items in it; and a gap left in a metal railing at the front of the property, that was wide enough for a small child to slip through to the basement.
Common hazards in rental properties are: severe damp and mould; bare wires; broken windows; overgrown gardens; cupboards not properly attached to the wall; faulty boilers; damaged brick walls; no keys to windows; and no fitted smoke alarms.
Chair of the AIIC, Pat Barber, says: “It is an unfortunate truth in the UK, many disadvantaged tenants are put in danger by unscrupulous landlords who exploit their vulnerability. Some of these tenants have to live in properties full of dangerous hazards, which put their safety at risk.
“We have seen no end of dangerous hazards in a range of properties, including: faulty gas boilers and fires; excessive mould throughout the property; exposed electric wiring; gardens littered with rusty car parts and other metal items; and faulty fire alarms.
“In one recent property, during an end of tenancy check out inspection, the inventory clerk discovered a completely overgrown garden pond which was so hidden she almost fell into it. The garden shed was so dilapidated that it leant at an alarming angle and could have collapsed at any time. It was impossible to open the door to reach any gardening equipment and also posed a serious safety hazard to the tenants.”
Barber continues: “Many families and young children are at risk from negligent landlords, all of whom have a duty of care, and as such, should be making regular visits to properties, every three months, to check health and safety.”1
The AIIC has recommended time scales for landlords to respond to repairs requests. Some are more urgent than others.
- Emergency response – Gas and water leaks, serious electrical faults.
- 24-hour response – Heating and water systems, other non-life threatening electrical problems, for example, broken windows, if not caused by tenant negligence.
- 72-hour response – Kitchen appliances, other items that affect the daily life of a tenant.
- Less urgent responses – Broken lawn mowers, a fallen fence panel, dripping taps.
Professionally completed inventories are stressed to landlords, tenants and letting agencies by the AIIC.