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Standards improve in British rental properties – but safety still falls short

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Since 2014, a whole raft of new legislation has been introduced by the UK and devolved governments to improve tenants’ lives. Rental market insurer AXA has tracked progress over the past four years, and finds significant leaps forward in landlords’ professional standards1, but safety is still compromised in too many rentals.

Despite a broadly improving picture, the private rental sector still has catching up to do on important areas like fire and gas safety. Every rental property requires an annual gas safety inspection – but just 58 per cent have had this check in the past 12 months.

Four in ten tenants, meanwhile, say they do not have smoke alarms installed, despite landlords being legally required to fit them on each floor of a property. This is still a marked improvement on 2014, prior to the rule being introduced, when six in ten tenants lacked them.

British rental homes complying with safety rules

2018 compared to 2014

Tenancy agreement 81 per cent ▲ (from 73 per cent)
EPC (provided) 33 per cent ▲ (from 19 per cent)
Current gas safety certificate 58 per cent ▲ (from 30 per cent)
Inventory of contents 41 per cent ▲ (from 36 per cent)
Smoke alarms (on each floor) 59 per cent ▲ (from 42 per cent)
Carbon monoxide alarms 34 per cent ▲ (from 27 per cent)

Two other key requirements are that landlords provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to tenants, and (in England and Wales) the Government’s ‘How to Rent’ Guide, which informs them of their rights and responsibilities.  As yet, only a third of tenants say they have seen the EPC (up from 19 per cent in 2014), and just 15 per cent of those eligible have received the Government’s mandatory guide.

AXA notes that landlords too compromise their rights with these omissions, as those who have not provided the guide, EPC and gas safety certificate cannot evict a tenant under a Section 21 notice.

While recent legislation has increased pressure on landlords to raise their game, there is still little awareness among tenants of basic rights and entitlements. This means vital consumer pressure to push standards up further is largely absent.




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