Saturday, 7 March 2015

Landlords don't let Property Inspections Trip you up!

Landlords don’t let Property Inspections trip you up!

The need for thorough property inspections should be obvious. It is a fundamental part of ensuring an owners property asset is being cared for, and their tenants are playing their part in that care. It is also an important part in ensuring  tenants are safe and that the property remains legally compliant.

“Mr Smith I am pleased to report your property is tidy and being well cared for” are welcome words for any landlord. However this prompts the question of how thorough the inspection was, that lead to this observation.

A recent judgement made by the Court of Appeal in the case of Edwards v Kumarasamy provides a salutary and perhaps surprising lesson for landlords.

Briefly the Court of Appeal upheld the tenant Mr Edwards claim for significant personal injury damages against their landlord Mr Kumarasamy after he tripped up on the way to the bin stores! Although the bin stores were within the communal area, The Court found that it was the landlords’ responsibility for his own tenants’ safety even beyond the boundaries of the apartment itself. 

The lesson is important one for private landlords as well as those with an agent.

Firstly inspections need to be thorough and should cover the communal parts as well as the property itself.

Secondly it is important that landlords check the detail of any personal insurance policy as well as any block insurance, particularly in relation to the communal parts. They say the ‘devil is always in the detail’. In this instance what are you covered for and where does it physically extend? Grill your insurance company if necessary.

Thirdly If you are a private landlord and you miss something you only have yourself to blame. Where landlords employ either a Lettings Agent or a Management Company, they should be satisfied that both have thorough inspection regimes. How experienced is the agent? What qualifies them to undertake a property inspection?

To miss hazards, issues or potential problems is a human trait that we are all capable of. However in the eyes of the law, there appears to be no excuse if the risk both within the property and in the communal parts are ‘obvious and or foreseeable’ ones.

It follows that cynical as it may be, communication from agents along the lines of “Mr Smith I am pleased to report your property is tidy and being well cared for” should be treated with caution.

If you are a Private landlord, or indeed one with an agent, if you would like further advice on how and what to check within your rented property please feel free to speak without obligation to Garrin Webb or Paul Beevers at Rainbow Property. Unlucky or not, it is better to be prepared!

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