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New bill means greater responsibilities for private landlords

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Government Green Paper sets out a "fundamental rethink" on social housing

A new bill, currently being considered by Parliament, will mean private landlords are subject to further regulation relating to the safety of their properties.

Already, private landlords have to comply with a wealth of statutory obligations to ensure their properties are safe to rent. These include:

  • Annual gas safety checks
  • Provide copies of the EPC
  • Install smoke alarms
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms
  • Ensure the electrical system and electrical appliances are safe
  • Test all alarms at the start of a new tenancy

Private landlords are currently only obliged to ensure that their electrical systems and appliances are ‘safe’. This is an informal obligation and leaves room for interpretation. Recent surveys by the housing charity, Shelter, suggest that some landlords are already taking this further by obtaining electrical safety checks, but a change in the law would force all landlords to ensure the electrical appliances and systems are safe.

The Housing & Planning Bill will mean landlords will require an electrical safety check to be carried out on their properties every five years. The bill also includes provisions for failures to comply with these obligations. In its current draft parliament is intending to impose financial penalties and transfer the powers to local authority to enter a landlord’s property and ensure the check is completed.

The current financial penalty for failing to ensure the correct smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are fitted correctly can be up to £5,000. The government is taking fire safety seriously and landlords who fail to comply with the new rules - when they come into force - can expect fines of an equal if not greater amount.

Landlords should already be ensuring their properties are in a good condition before it is rented. Landlords that fail to comply could face legal action from tenants, claims for compensation or fines. It may also be difficult to obtain possession of your home.

If you are a landlord and are unsure if you are complying with all of your obligations, you should take legal advice. Speak to our legal experts on 01616 966 229.

By Amie Harrison - Stephensons Residential Landlords Team