Property News

Poor Risk Awareness Among Landlords

Em Morley - May 2, 2014

Poor Risk Awareness Among Landlords

AXA Business Insurance has revealed the largest concerns of the UK’s 8.3 million residential tenants. Following their nationwide survey this year, AXA warn of poor risk awareness among landlords, but does challenge the common image of an unfriendly landlord-tenant relationship.

The research states that tenants are concerned most about high energy bills as a result of badly insulated properties and old heating systems.

Gaps in crucial repairs put tenants and landlords at risk, says the study. It is reported that just 30% of landlords conduct the annual gas inspection required by law, and 58% of properties do not have a fire alarm fitted, among a variety of other safety failings.

The improvement to properties demanded by most tenants was better energy efficiency, through new boilers, double-glazing, insulation, greener technologies, etc. Worry in this area is not surprising, regarding the Government’s estimations that one in five tenants live in fuel poverty.

Poor Risk Awareness Among Landlords

Poor Risk Awareness Among Landlords

The Government, alongside tenants, are concerned about poor energy arrangements in rental properties. This has led to them looking to introduce new energy legislation for landlords.

For example, by April 2016, it will be an obligation for landlords to introduce any reasonable energy efficiency measure, such as insulation, that is requested by a tenant. Additionally, it will be an offence to let a property in the lowest energy efficiency categories, F and G, by 2018. Currently, this applies to one in ten rental properties in the market.

Following poor energy performance at the top of their issues, tenants’ highest complaint was that their landlord does not take enough care in routine maintenance. 17% said that their landlord had outright refused to carry out essential repairs when asked.

Disturbingly, the number of tenants who claimed that basic safety features were lacking from their properties was very high. These include:

  • 73% of properties do not have locks on all external windows and doors. One in five tenants reported that this was their number one security request.
  • 60% of rental properties do not have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted.
  • 58% of rental properties do not have a fire alarm fitted.
  • Just 30% of tenants said that their landlord had arranged an annual gas inspection, regardless of it being a legal requirement to do so.

Although the survey has underlined major areas of disappointment among tenants, it did highlight the popular image of a hostile landlord-tenant relationship, as untrue.

Half of tenants said that they had a high opinion of their landlord as an individual. From a list of options, 29% said that they are helpful, with an additional 20% describing them as trustworthy. However, a minor 13% labelled their landlord as greedy, and 4% said that they were ruthless.

Managing Director of AXA Business Insurance, Darrell Sansom, says: “It’s easy to present modern Britain as a world of greedy landlords on the one side, and resentful tenants on the other. That’s certainly been the stereotype.

“However, we’ve found that their attitude to their landlords is largely positive, indicating that the problems aren’t caused so much by a bad attitude on either side, but just poor awareness of who is responsible for what.”

Sansom advises landlords: “There are simple things landlords need to do to comply with the law and ensure decent safety standards for their tenants. Keeping an eye on your property must come first; we know that a third of landlords never visit their rental properties after a tenant moves in, and quarterly checks are only conducted by 17%.

“Too many landlords are leaving themselves open to serious property risks, and even prosecution, by not maintaining adequate fire and gas safety measures. Arranging annual gas inspections and ensuring tenants aren’t at risk of fires from old wiring, are one part of the picture.”

“Landlords are also going to face increased pressure from the Government to update their heating and energy systems in order to keep tenants’ bills down,” he adds.1

1 http://www.charlesderbyestates.com/mobilenewsdetails.aspx?id=2147001308