First, the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) claims that a quarter of a million private tenants are withholding rent from landlords who fail to make essential repairs. The association's study shows that just over one-third (34%) of private tenants have faced a home emergency in the past year. Only one in three were resolved on the same day, and almost a quarter took more than a week to resolve.
The association suggests that landlords should:
- attend to any gas, major electrical fault or water leak within 24 hours;
- rectify any cooker malfunction within 48 hours; and
- repair other broken appliances such as washing machines or dishwashers in 72 hours.
Second, the Gas Safe Register has reported that of 3,500 properties inspected during the first nine months of last year, 20% of rental homes were unsafe, compared with only 15% of owner-occupied homes and 6% of council-owned properties. The rental figure may be disproportionately high because landlords have a legal duty to commission a gas safety check and renew their safety certificate annually.
Ignoring this obligation can have serious consequences. A landlord in Derby was recently handed a 16-month suspended jail sentence, fined £4,000, ordered to pay £17,500 prosecution costs and to undertake 200 hours' unpaid work - because she failed to comply for four years. One of her tenants died and two other people suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Gas safety checks aren't even expensive: they're available starting at £50. All you have to do is remember the renewal date each year. If your memory tends to be erratic, you can either register at staygassafe.co.uk, programme a reminder on an electronic device, or just ask us to take care of it.