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Corner cutting landlords putting tenants in danger

Date online: 12/09/2014

The recent case of a landlord fined for renting room that could only be entered on all fours and as a result, could impede the tenants’ escape in the event of a fire, is a good example of the growing problem of hazardous and dangerous properties that are putting tenants at risk.

Despite rented property having regulations to protect tenants’ safety, some landlords are taking advantage of the upsurge in demand and are cutting corners to cash in. Unfortunately, small and cramped accommodation with poor ventilation and questionable fire escape routes can be easily found on the likes of Rightmove and Zoopla.  In fact only recently, Islington council stepped in to inspect a minuscule flat in the borough after it had received international press coverage.

According to the AIIC, small and cramped accommodation is just the thin edge of the wedge.  

Pat Barber, Chair of the AIIC comments: “It is an unfortunate truth in the UK, many disadvantaged tenants are put in danger by unscrupulous landlords who exploit their vulnerability.  Some of these tenants have to live in properties, full of dangerous hazards which put their safety at risk.  

We have come across many rooms built into lofts with only flimsy wooden ladders for access and though they are illegal, they are still quite common.  Many properties have loose stair carpets; loose and dangerous bannister rails; wooden venetian blinds that fall on your head when you try to open them; hinged flaps over extractors; loose curtain poles; and mirrored wardrobe doors that are not fixed to their runners and fall out when moved - very heavy and very dangerous.

Other dangerous hazards we regularly come across are faulty gas boilers and fires; excessive mould throughout the property; exposed electric wiring; damaged and leaning brick walls; no keys for window locks; gardens littered with rusty car parts and other metal items; and faulty fire alarms.

Raising standards in this sector is a big challenge for the Government and the industry. If you think of HMO landlords and the licences they require by law, we are constantly seeing examples of non-compliance. Lots of HMO of landlords don't register & slip through the net.  A two-way reference system where tenants could check landlord references and reviews online may be worth the industry looking at seriously.”

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