Landlords continue to neglect safety

New research from AXA Business Insurance challenges the stereotype of terrible tenants and penny-pinching landlords but finds there’s still room for improvement when it comes to safety and security in the home rental market.

The research found that 43% of landlords have failed to arrange the legally required annual gas safety check, 54% have neglected to install a fire alarm, 68% have not organised an annual electrical safety inspection and 71% have not organised a carbon monoxide alarm.

In addition, 74% of landlords have failed to put locks on all external windows and doors and 78% of landlords have not arranged a door chain or spyhole to keep their tenants secure.

Despite these important oversights, people up and down the country generally paint a positive portrait of the person who owns their rented home.  Tenants most commonly describe their landlords as fair (30%), helpful (23%), responsible (20%), trustworthy (19%) and caring (15%).

In the small number of cases where the relationship is more difficult, 2% of tenants say their landlord is creepy, 3% think they’re seedy and 3% describe them as dishonest.

Over a quarter (28%) of tenants say their landlord has done something ‘nice’ for them and 20% say they have done something ‘nice’ for their landlord in return.

Many swap cards on special occasions, while the most common acts of kindness on the landlord’s side include gift giving, forgiving a late payment in difficult times and offering help above and beyond what might be reasonably expected in a tenant’s agreement.

In return, tenants are happy to arrange small decorating or DIY jobs and even do a bit of home baking when they expect a landlord visit.

And while just over a third (35%) of tenants admit they’d take more care of a home they owned themselves, most make a special effort to look after the property and aim to have it clean and tidy before the landlord pops round.

Cleaning floors and bathrooms, making beds, spraying air-freshener or lighting candles and taking the bins out in advance of a visit are common.

Yet even those people who enjoy a positive rental experience recognise that not everyone is as lucky, and 85% agree that the government should do more to protect people who rent from private landlords.

Darrell Sansom, managing director at AXA Business Insurance, said: “There’s clearly a lot of good-will between landlords and their tenants and our research shows that rental home horror stories and negative stereotypes are few and far between.

“Having said that, we know that more and more people are slipping into the landlord role through circumstance rather than design, and it seems that despite a positive approach and good intentions, many are simply not aware of all of their safety responsibilities.

“Good relationships are built on trust and teamwork but it’s also important to remember that as a landlord you do have an extra duty of care, a legal responsibility for gas, electrical and fire safety and an obligation to protect yourself and your tenant – so it’s important that you understand all of your responsibilities and double check you have done everything necessary to protect both people and property.”

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