There are a significant amount of private landlords who fail to keep rental properties in a safe condition for their tenants. Government research has previously revealed that 40% of all rented homes in England are in poor condition and in a survey by Shelter nearly 80% of environmental health officers identified landlords who persistently failed to maintain their properties at the appropriate standard but many were not prosecuted.
Landlords are governed by many laws and regulations to ensure that they keep properties in a safe and habitable condition. Specifically, the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 has an implied duty that a property must be fit for human habitation at the start of and throughout a tenancy. This is a fundamental principle which many landlords sadly ignore and it is important that they are held accountable for exposing people to often hazardous living conditions. In addition to their basic duty to ensure the premises are safe, they also have responsibilities to undertake such as:
- Repairs to the structure and exterior of the property
- Repairs to heating and hot water installations
- Repairs to sinks, baths and other sanitary installations
- Safety of gas and electrical appliances that they supply
- Fire safety of furniture and furnishings that they supply
Despite this, common hazards such as exposed wires and boilers, unsafe stairs, hazardous fires, faulty sockets, damaged walls, paths and roofs and damp and mould are faced by a large proportion of UK tenants. Unfortunately, local authorities often don’t seem to be willing to take action against landlords who refuse to repair or maintain their properties in a safe and habitable manner regardless of the various measures available to them to protect tenants, many of whom are some of our most vulnerable members of society.
Of course, it is also down to the tenants to take action. They can report rogue landlords to their local environmental health department and can sue for compensation if they have suffered an injury or illness as a result of the poorly maintained living conditions. Understandably some people are scared that taking any action against their landlord could result in eviction. However, legally landlords are not allowed to evict a tenant without a specific possession order from the Court which can take several months to obtain. Evicting tenants without such an order is a criminal offence for which a landlord can face prosecution and imprisonment.
The home should be somewhere to feel safe but rogue landlords destroy this simple human right by failing to carry out basic repairs to the properties they let. They are happy to take their tenants money but are not so happy to provide a safe living environment for them and their families.
Harris Fowler has a team of specialist personal injury solicitors who can advise anyone who has suffered an injury or illness as a result of their landlord’s failure to maintain their property. Free and friendly legal advice is available on 0800 213 214 or visit harrisfowler.co.uk
Harris Fowler is a trading name of Harris Fowler Limited and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority no. 558271.