Your Local Authority may carry out Housing Health and Safety Ratings System inspections of privately rented properties. That is to ensure that there are no deficiencies in the property or the way that it is maintained, which could adversely affect your tenants or indeed members of the general public.
These tests cover a number of specific areas relating to the condition of the building itself and its fitness for use as a letting property including:
- physical issues relating to dampness, mould, excess moisture, pollutants, lead piping or potential for carbon monoxide generation;
- adequacy of the water supply, sanitation arrangements, drainage and refuse arrangements;
- psychological discomfort including noise levels, security and overcrowding;
- potential for accidents – electrical or gas appliance and supply safety, maintenance of stairs, safety of windows and sanitary fittings etc.
- Following an inspection, your local authority may make a series of recommendations or issue an enforcement notice for work to be carried out. They have extensive powers which may range from:
- giving advice on how to put things right;
- setting a timeframe for repairs being carried out;
- prohibiting the property being used for letting purposes until repairs are made;
- in the worst case, actually requiring the demolition of the property itself.
You may find that you could face criminal proceedings if you fail to carry out the recommendations of a Housing Health and Safety Ratings System inspection although appeals against the findings are possible.
As a landlord, you have a number of obligations relating to the safety of your property and by extension the safety of your tenants.
Many of these obligations relate to some of the areas covered by safety inspection and it is obviously in your best interests to keep your property in a well maintained state, both to ensure that you stay within the law and to ensure that you can attract and retain tenants to your property.
Of course, situations may still arise where one of your tenants suffers injury or has their property damaged and they decide to sue you because they feel that this happened as the direct result of some defect in your property or in the way that you maintain it.
If a court awards damages against you, this could amount to a significant sum of money and unless you have landlords insurance with generous public liability provision, you could be facing financial ruin.
When looking at a landlord insurance quote, you may need to bear potential award figures in mind and select a policy where ample provision is made.
Situations like this could arise irrespective of whether or not your property has passed a Housing Health and Safety Rating System inspection. Appropriate landlords insurance cover may help provide some additional peace of mind.