Keeping your tenants safe – and why a failure could lead to a criminal record

We recently shared some horror stories from landlords whose tenants from hell had caused thousands of pounds’ worth of damage to properties and gave you some tips for making sure your own tenancies don’t turn into a nightmare. But it’s just as important to remember your own responsibilities for maintaining the condition and safety of your rental properties, as well as the way in which you manage them.

Getting gas safety certificates issued and checking tradesmen’s qualifications may seem like a bit of a pain at times, and could be easy to overlook or put to one side, particularly with all the other things you have to think about. But don’t fall into the trap of pushing them down the to do list – a failure to meet your obligations could end up costing you an awful lot more than you might think.

It’s a hot topic at the moment, with a recent landmark court case, the first of its kind in the UK, where a landlord from Blackpool became the first to be issued with a 10-year Criminal Behaviour Order, after a court found him guilty of causing harassment, alarm and distress to his tenants through the poor standards and management of rental properties he owned and managed.

Amongst other things, the order means he now has to bring in a third party agent to manage the properties on his behalf, which will take a percentage of his rental income. If he breaches the order, he could face a custodial sentence of up to five years or an unlimited fine.

This one is an extreme case, but will undoubtedly mean that others may want to try their luck in the courts – and you really don’t want to be the landlord on the receiving end!

There has also been a spate of recent fines for landlords who have broken gas safety rules, with one of over £11,000, and a London landlord narrowly escaped prison as he was fined and given a suspended prison sentence for installing a gas boiler that hadn’t been checked by a qualified gas engineer. It came to light after the tenant reported the boiler as he suspected a carbon monoxide leak.

Cutting corners when it comes to safety is clearly a false economy, but of course, it’s not just a fine or even a prison sentence you need to worry about if you fail to meet your obligations. You could be putting your tenants at risk of serious injury or even worse. Could you live with yourself if that happened?

It’s vital that you regularly review your properties and keep abreast of the legislation, as something as seemingly innocuous as a missing gas safety certificate could have major consequences for you and your tenants. It’s also important to ensure that any tradespeople you use have the required qualifications and certifications needed in order for the work they’re doing to be compliant.

Whether you have a large portfolio or just one or two properties, if you’re not sure of the latest legislation in relation to your obligations for maintaining the safety and standard of your property, we can help. Give us a call on 0333 577 9050 and one of the team will be on hand for a chat.