According to a new report published by AXA, there have been significant leaps forward in the standards of the private rental sector since 2014. However, there is still some way to go in terms of improving safety standards.
The report identified some significant safety weaknesses, with only 58% of properties having had a gas inspection in the past year despite these being an annual requirement.
Furthermore, 4 in 10 tenants say they do not have smoke alarms installed, despite landlords or their agents being legally required to fit them on each floor of a property.
According to AXA, this is still a considerable improvement on their 2014 survey, where (prior to the legal requirement), when 6 in 10 tenants lacked them.
Alongside oversight in gas safety and smoke alarms, only a third of tenants reported they had seen the properties EPC, (up from 19% in 2014) and just 15% of those eligible have received the government’s mandatory How To Rent guide.
The report also exposes considerable knowledge gaps among tenants of tenants, with 75% of tenants not knowing their landlord is legally required to ensure a minimum energy rating for the property, and a similar number were unaware of the requirement for EPCs and gas safety checks.
So what impact has this oversight had on the tenants themselves? It turns out, a significant impact according to AXA; half of tenants surveyed said they feel their rental property negatively impacts their health: poor energy performance was quoted by 21 per cent. Most tenants in this group also cited damp or out-of-date heating systems at the same time.
Commenting on the revelations, Gareth Howell, managing director of AXA Insurance said:
“Landlords are getting more professional, and we are seeing standards rise in British rentals, driven by legislation and desire of landlords themselves. We know that many start out as ‘accidentals’, and there is a big learning curve for them at the start, particularly as legislation changes so often”
“We find that both landlords and their tenants lag behind, so public awareness campaigns are vital to correct myths and promote new rules and standards. Gas and fire safety should be the priorities here: our research suggests that millions of properties are not compliant with today’s laws.”