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Landlord jailed over near-fatal bedsit blaze


A Suffolk landlord has been jailed for two-and-a-half years after a tenant was practically baked alive in a fire at one of his properties in Norwich.  Nineteen-year-old Layla Skalli suffered 80-per-cent deep-tissue burns and was given a less than one-per-cent chance of survival following the blaze, on 14 April 2009. Virtually all the skin below her neck was destroyed by the intense 600-degree radiant heat, and only pioneering skin-grafting techniques saved her life.

The landlord of the flat, which was situated above a mobile phone shop in Magdalen Street, Norwich, was Michael Billings, who owns hundreds of properties in and round East Anglia. Following a multi-agency investigation involving the HSE, Norfolk Police, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, and Norwich City Council, Billings appeared before the city’s Crown Court on 7 May to answer a catalogue of charges in relation to the blaze.

The court head that the fire broke out in the early hours of the morning and quickly became a raging inferno, with tenants in three adjoining properties lucky to escape the blaze. Fire crews rescued a woman living in a second-floor apartment above Miss Skalli’s flat as she prepared to jump for her life.  Other tenants climbed down a drainpipe to escape.  The teenager was unable to escape because her sash window could only be opened by four inches and the staircase was blocked by thick black smoke. Investigating HSE inspector John Claxton said that Miss Skalli would have been disoriented and rendered unconscious by noxious fumes. He explained: “When the fire started, it burnt the carpet and a sofa, which produced thick, acrid smoke. This was toxic and narcotic – so much so that when she was tested in hospital, Layla had 33-per-cent carbon monoxide in her blood. At 40 per cent, you are dead.”

Fire-fighters had to use their ladder as a battering ram to smash the window and climb inside, where they found Miss Skalli lying unconscious on the floor with her hands covering her face, the only part of her not burnt by the intense heat. The fire-fighter who carried her down the ladder described her body as being so hot his arms were beginning to burn through his tunic.

The incident was treated as a potential manslaughter case but the multi-agency investigation was unable to determine the cause of the blaze conclusively.

In all, Billings was indicted on 14 counts, including:



  • nine under art.32(1) of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 for failing to take suitable fire precautions to ensure the safety of his tenants;

  • four under s3(2) of the HSWA 1974, for failing, in his capacity as a self-employed landlord of a tenanted property, to ensure that persons not in his employment were not exposed to risks to their health and safety; and

  • one under reg.36 of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 to ensure relevant appliances and flues were adequately checked and maintained for safety.


The court heard Billings failed to provide even the most basic protection for his tenants, such as fitting a working fire-alarm system, installing the correct number of fire doors, or providing adequate means of escape. The gas appliances in the flats above the shop had not been serviced or properly inspected.

The landlord pleaded guilty and was sentenced by Judge Paul Downes to 30 months’ in prison. In an unusual twist, Billings was originally ordered to pay £40,000 in costs (although the actual costs of the multi-agency investigation ran to £102,000) but following representations by the HSE, Judge Downes said he would review the sentence if Billings paid Miss Skalli £20,000 as a show of remorse.

The judge said that following a recent practice direction from the higher courts dissuading the lower courts from getting involved in “civil” matters, he was unable to make a compensation order. Billings had, in mitigation, expressed his remorse over what happened to Miss Skalli so the judge suggested the £20,000 payment as a gesture of true remorse. Billings’ defence team is currently considering whether or not to make the payment, as the judge would not be drawn on how much it would result in the sentence being cut.

After sentencing Layla’s brother, Andrew Skalli, said: “The actions of Michael Billings have ruined my sister's life. We want to remind every landlord that they have a legal and moral obligation to the safety of their tenants, something Billings gave no thought to – hence why he has been sentenced today.  “But no amount of time in prison could make up for the pain he has caused my sister and my family. Despite this we remain grateful to the people who made this prosecution possible and hope it helps save other lives.”

Inspector Claxton said: “Michael Billings failed in his basic duties as a landlord and those failures nearly cost the life of a young woman. As it is, Layla Skalli has been left with both physical and emotional scars that will never completely heal. A year on, she requires pain relief and will need further surgery in the future.”  He added: “The vast majority of landlords endeavour to comply with the law and thus have nothing to fear, as the regulator is always available to give advice. Those who choose not to comply should be aware that the various agencies will cooperate and work together to rigorously enforce the law, and this is an outcome that such landlords should fear.”

Commenting on the agencies cooperation in this case, Richard Herrell, group manager at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This is the first time the fire and rescue service in Norfolk has worked on a joint operation of this kind with the Health and Safety Executive, Norfolk Constabulary and Norwich City Council. This partnership approach proved to be hugely effective in what was a complex and difficult case.  “This case has never been about interfering public bodies checking up on people for the sake of it: it’s been about ensuring all properties where people live are safe.”



ASBESTOS

ADVISORY NOTE ON THE REFURBISHMENT OF HOUSING STOCK LIKELY TO CONTAIN ASBESTOS
 

HSE has recently encountered instances during the refurbishment of social housing properties where inadequate measures had been taken to prevent unsafe work associated with asbestos containing materials (ACMs).  Workers, and in some cases tenants, may have been exposed to asbestos because of this failure to manage the risk


 


HSE has written an 'Advisory note on the refurbishment of housing stock likely to contain asbestos' which provides guidance to social landlords including local authorities, housing associations and social housing management companies and which sets out how to manage the risks of exposure of workers to asbestos to comply with current legislation.




Tenancy deposit protection confusion

Since the Tenancy Deposit Protection schemes were introduced by the Housing Act 2004, and took effect from 6 April 2007, many alternative deposit schemes have emerged offering the lettings market alternative solutions for protecting deposit money.


 


Most of the alternative schemes are operating within the regulations that dictate how a deposit can be protected. My Tenancy Deposit is a new player and originally gave the impression that it administered a scheme for MyDeposits (administered by the National Landlords Association (NLA) and Hamilton Fraser Insurance) who is one of the three scheme providers appointed by the Government.


NLA issued a statement yesterday about this confusion which we re-print in it's entirety and we have also now included a comment from My Tenancy Deposits.

 

URGENT STATEMENT


“MYTENANCYDEPOSIT.CO.UK”


 


MTD Secure Limited trading as mytenancydeposit.co.uk is NOT part of Tenancy Deposit Solutions Limited (TDSL) trading as mydeposits.co.uk.


 


This company does NOT operate a Government-authorised Scheme for the protection of tenants’ deposits within England and Wales. The three official Schemes are:


 


•           Tenancy Deposit Solutions Limited trading as mydeposits.co.uk


•           The Dispute Service (thedisputeservice.co.uk)


•           The Deposit Protection Service (www.depositprotection.com)


 


These are the ONLY three Schemes where landlords and letting agents can legally protect their tenants’ deposits.


 


The claim that “MTD Secure Limited is a company administering a tenancy deposit protection scheme by Tenancy Deposit Solutions Limited under contract from Communities & Local Government” is NOT true.


 


Any letting agent and/or landlord using this company should be aware that their deposits will NOT be protected. You should immediately use one of the three Schemes above with which to comply with the law. Not protecting with one of the three Government-authorised Schemes can lead to penalties for the landlord.


 


If you have already deposited funds with this company, you should seek legal advice immediately.


 


The relevant authorities have been informed.


 


For further information, please contact Ellie Irwin at mydeposits.co.uk on 020 7840 8925.


 


 


***


 


 


My Tenancy Deposit has now issued the following statement:


 


"We have recently been made aware of concerns raised by both the general public and other tenancy deposit protection providers with regards to the legitimacy of the service we offer.


 


Tenancy Deposit Solutions Limited trading as mydeposits, offer an insurance based tenancy deposit protection scheme for the right to hold tenancy deposits within a segregated client account for the duration of a tenancy period.


 


Acting as administrators, mytenancydeposit had an account with mydeposits and was intending to protect each deposit received through mydeposits Government & Communities approved scheme. We have never claimed to be part of Tenancy Deposit Solutions Limited or mydeposits.


 


The feedback from our marketing campaign was the service we were intending to offer was well received due to the Agents and Landlords general dissatisfaction with the current tenancy deposit protection providers systems.


 


We believe that we were offering a legitimate service. We are in the process of seeking legal advice to counteract the allegations and clarify the matter. Our lawyers are confident that we will be able to resume our services shortly and any further damage to our brand by third parties will result to legal action."




This article is courtesy of the Letting Network




NAME CHANGE FOR THE OMBUDSMAN


On 1st May 2009 The Ombudsman for Estate agents changed their name to The Property Ombudsman (TPO).  There will be a new logo for window displays; the new logo for lettings is shown below.



 



The ombudsman scheme was expanded to include letting agents in October 2008.  Membership is not currently mandatory, but any landlord looking for a letting agent would be well advised to ensure the agent is a member.


The Property Ombudsman offers a free, independent, and impartial service to members of the public who are dissatisfied with the service provided by a member of the scheme during the letting of a residential property.   Any decision made by the Ombudsman is binding on member agents but not on complainants, who are free to reject the Ombudsman's decision and pursue the matter in the courts if they wish. 


REAL HELP FOR TENANT - Margaret Beckett

 

 






Published13 May 2009

A major new package of measures to strengthen consumer protections for tenants living in private rented accommodation is being announced today by Housing Minister Margaret Beckett.


The Government wants to improve the quality of the private rented sector, by increasing professionalism, driving out bad landlords, and strengthening protections for tenants affected by repossessions.


New proposals to be taken forward for consultation, as recommended in Julie Rugg's independent review of the private rented sector, include:



  • Introducing a light-touch national register of every private landlord in England to increase protection for both vulnerable tenants and good landlords. Landlords will need to include their registration number on all tenancy agreements and could be removed from the register for persistent poor performance like failing to carry out essential repairs, or not protecting tenants' deposits
  • Full regulation for private sector letting agents. Letting and managing agents do not currently need to have professional credentials. This means that both tenants and landlords have no realistic redress when things go wrong. To tackle these problems, the government proposes creating an independent regulator for all letting and managing agents
  • An improved complaints and redress procedure for tenants. For the first time, the Government will look to set up a mechanism whereby tenants are able to register official complaints about sub-standard landlords, and if these complaints are substantial and proven then landlords may be removed from the national register
  • Greater local authority support for good landlords. Local authorities will be encouraged to create 'local lettings agencies' to better facilitate tenancies in the private rented sector for those in housing need, including Housing Benefit recipients

The Government is today also announcing its intention to change the law to ensure that tenants have a minimum two months' notice if they have to leave their home because their landlord has been repossessed.


At present, a gap in legal protections means that some tenants could be evicted at short notice if their landlord is repossessed - sometimes with less than two weeks to move their belongings and find somewhere new to live. These changes are part of a wider package of support the Government has put in place to support households at risk of repossession in the current economic climate.


Margaret Beckett said:



"With almost three million private tenants in the country, the private rented sector plays a vital role in providing choice and flexibility in the housing market. That's why we need to ensure tenants have the protection they deserve, the many decent landlords receive the support they need, and those landlords whose performance is inadequate either improve or leave the sector.


"The proposals we've announced today will create a system that retains its attractiveness for those who choose not to buy, but also embraces greater professionalism without creating unnecessary burdens on landlords."


Mrs Beckett added:



"It is not right that tenants through no fault of their own can be forced to leave their home at a moment's notice if their landlord is repossessed, which is why we are intending to change the law. In the meantime, I hope that lenders will move as quickly as possible to safeguard tenants in their homes."


Leslie Morphy Chief Executive of Crisis said:



"A strong and healthy private rented sector has a vital role to play in meeting our housing needs, particularly for those who do not qualify for social housing, but we have long argued that we need to raise standards across the sector. The measures announced today of a new national register of every landlord and full regulation for private letting agents will provide important new tools in increasing protection for vulnerable tenants and driving out bad landlords from the sector. We warmly welcome them and urge that they be implemented as quickly as possible."


For tenants in danger of possible eviction due to their landlords facing repossession, the Council of Mortgage Lenders have agreed to work with their members to alleviate where possible any pressure on the tenant. They will continue to work with government to promote and share best practice between their members, ensuring tenants get the support they need at this time.


Changes to the rules for informing tenants if their landlord is due to attend a court repossession hearing have already come into effect. Since April, tenants will now get up to seven weeks notice of a hearing, up from the previous two week period.


 

A full copy of the Government's response to the Rugg Review is available at www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/responseruggreview.  This package of proposals represents a long-term strategy for the private rented sector, and many of the proposals will require primary legislation to be implemented. However, much can be started now including creating a more professional sector through more training and better accreditation. The Government is now consulting on these proposals and the consultation will close on 31 July 2009

 

A new brand for gas safety

Capita, provider of the new gas installer registration scheme, have unveiled a new brand for gas safety to gas installers and the general public.

Capita have announced that from 1 April 2009 the new brand, 'Gas Safe Register™', will focus solely on improving consumer gas safety. The new brand will come into play at the same time as the new gas registration scheme which will replace the CORGI scheme. The new brand will be held by HSE on behalf of gas installers, will be used by Capita for the duration of the contract, and will be available to whoever runs the registration scheme in the future.

http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic/capita.htm

LANDLORD FINED £24,840


An HSE prosecution has led to a landlord being fined more than £24,000 for failing to obtain written gas safety records for his properties.













 

Madhu Bhajanehatti from Keston in Kent was the owner of 12 flats in Great Yarmouth. Great Yarmouth Magistrates’ Court heard that he had failed to comply with HSE Improvement Notices which required him to obtain written gas safety records for each of these premises.

 


The notices had been served under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, which requires that a landlord must obtain a written record of safety checks by a Corgi registered gas installer, dated within the last twelve months.


 

Mr Bhajanehatti was fined a total of £24,840 with costs of £13,481.02 after pleading guilty to multiple breaches of section 33 (1) (g) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.






Under the 1974 Act, it is an offence for any person to breach any requirement or prohibition imposed by an improvement notice or prohibition notice.



 


HSE Inspector, Martin Kneebone says:


 





“Anyone responsible for letting a property should ensure gas appliances are tested sufficiently to ensure that they are in a safe condition and working effectively and obtain a landlord gas safety certificate.

 


“You cannot see, smell or taste carbon monoxide fumes, and symptoms can be similar to many common illnesses. In the worst situations, carbon monoxide can kill without warning in just hours.





“The failure to get appliances checked and keep documentation can potentially put tenants at risk and the HSE will not tolerate nor hesitate to take action against those who fall short of the law in such a way." 


HMO APPLICATIONS AND LICENSES



Statistics from Central Government shows that the number of applications received in the year, 58% had received less than 20 applications and just 3% had received over 500. This shows that either there was a large margin of error in the estimate of the number needing licensing or that many landlords simply have not licensed properties when they should have. About 3% of the Local Housing Authorities (LHA) had no HMOs requiring mandatory licensing.


The Housing Act 2004 puts a maximum licence duration of 5 years. 85% of LHAs were issuing licenses for 5 years. About 5% give 3 year licences and 5 % said they would vary the licence length based on individual circumstances.


222 LHAs had started the work of actually processing applications. Of 22,314 applications that had been received, 31% had been approved with a further 56% currently being processed.



  • 11% percent of LHAs had approved or refused all applications they had received and were therefore ‘up to date’.

  • 24% were processing those received but had not yet refused or approved any.

  • 13% of LHAs had had cases where the applicant failed the ‘fit and proper person’ test, but this had normally been resolved by agreeing for another person to hold the licence.

Overall less than 1% of applications had been refused.


POSSIBLE NATIONAL LANDLORD ACCREDITATION

 

CLG moving to get a handle on private rented sector and get it up to scratch


The government is considering creating a national set of standards for the private rented sector, a senior official has revealed.


A country-wide accreditation scheme could also be on the cards, Simon Llewellyn, head of private renting and leasehold at the Communities and Local Government department, said at conference held by Accreditation Network UK on Friday.


Mr Llewellyn admitted to delegates that the CLG did not 'have a handle' on landlord accreditation regimes which were already up and running.


It was, however, examining the existing crop of local authority and private landlord-run schemes along with the Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services and ANUK.


'The government does not really have a handle on the extent, nature and scope of these schemes,' he said.


'It's therefore difficult for us to demonstrate the real value and effectiveness of them.' Mr Llewellyn said his department was considering whether there were core elements of accreditation which should be administered centrally.


'Minimum principles might be helpful, maybe a national code,' he said.


'Everything is open for consideration. This is part of the housing reform agenda, where ministers want to be confident that the private rented sector is fit for purpose. I would suggest that accreditation is an important part of that.' Mr Llewellyn said MPs had raised concerns about the quality of management in the private rented sector.


They had suggested that rents could be regulated or that the remit of the social housing scrutineer Oftenant could be extended to cover the private rented sector.


Other proposals included imposing limits on buy-to-let in specific areas or broadening the criteria for the licensing of houses in multiple occupation.


Ministers were asking why the take-up of private landlord accreditation schemes had not been more widespread, he added.


They were keen to start a debate on how accreditation of the sector could be developed, spread across the country and policed. ANUK said it was pushing for central regulation of private landlords. 'We believe there's a role for a central regulator,' said its chair Tom Toumazou.


'ANUK would join in that arrangement and say 'there's a need for a central regulator and if it's not us, we certainly know what should be done to perform that function'.' Lee Dribben, chair of the Residential Landlords' Association, said the government should draw up a standard model for accreditation which councils could adapt to fit local needs.


'The government often brings in various schemes and legislation, then leaves them to local authorities to interpret,' he said.


'That's why you get so much inconsistency across the country.' By Emiliy Rogers


REVIEW OF THE PRIVATE RENTED SECTOR

 

Housing minister Yvette Cooper will today announce a review of the private rented sector by Julie Rugg, an academic at York University.

The review, likely to be similar to the recent Hills Review of social housing, could see the introduction of a large scale professional rented sector which many business leaders believe could solve the current housing crisis.

The property industry believes that a professional rented sector akin to that of Germany or the USA could solve supply issues and ensure stability in the market, as well as flexibility and choice for those seeking quality, professionally managed accommodation.

The news comes as the Citizens Advice Bureau reveals the scale of home owners saddled with mortgages they cannot afford, while the MoD admits spending £11m renting army homes from private landlords because of a lack of supply.

The industry wants the government to remove barriers to the growth of commercial investment in the professional rented sector, while increasing the flexibility of affordable housing policy and standardising regulation.

Ian Fletcher, director for residential policy, said: “We are very supportive of this welcome move by the government, which raises the profile of the professional rented sector and we hope reflects recognition of its important contribution to housing provision. A really helpful outcome would be a cross-departmental strategy for the sector, which promotes its professionalisation. Such a strategy must encompass planning, tax and, benefit policy and not just how the sector is regulated.

“It should not be forgotten that it is only 20 years ago that the modern private rented sector was born, with the deregulation measures in the 1988 Housing Act. Up until then, accessing private rented housing was nigh impossible because security of tenure meant property remained in the same hands for years. Over two decades, the sector has made huge strides and generally deregulation has been good for consumers and the government. Now, however, is probably a good juncture to be considering how we can build on this legacy and ensure the sector continues to deliver a quality product for a broadening set of clients. We look forward to making our contributions to this important project.”


LANDLORD FINED £20,000

LANDLORD IN LIVERPOOL FINED FOR NOT LICENSING A PROPERTY


Following the introduction of HMO licensing under the Housing Act 2004 there are severe penalties for failure to comply with these new requirements. Initially local authorities were tolerant and landlords got away with it because the rules were not well understood. Now action is being taken to enforce the legislation and landlords need to make sure they are compliant or they risk serious penalty.


There have been a few prosecutions of landlords who have not complied with the new rules but the latest prosecution in Liverpool is believed to be the first where the maximum fine of £20,000 has been imposed on a landlord.


Mr Philip Olivier, the landlord, owned a three storey house that fell within the definition of the sort of property that needed licensing under mandatory licensing.


He had failed to license his property in Wellsfield Road, Liverpool and was found guilty on two counts. In addition to the fine of £20,000 he was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £250 and would have had his own costs on top of this.


After all this he will still have to apply for the licence and do all the necessary works to ensure the property meets the required standards.


This sends a clear message to landlords that they need to take this seriously and failure to do so will hit them hard in their wallet.











DIGITAL SWITCHOVER


 

ARE YOU READY?

 

The private housing sector is very varied both in terms of the types and nature of the residents and providers. It encompasses tenants and leaseholders. 

 

The majority of households who are privately renting, are under 35 and a significant number will be renting flats at market rents on Assured Shorthold Tenancies.  This tends to be a transient group who increasingly will expect that the properties that they rent will have the appropriate services and amenities provided as standard (including access to digital TV services). However, there are also a number of elderly people who live in private rented accommodation on low rent, regulated tenancies, who will be resistant to change. Residents in flats (also referred to as Multiple Dwelling Units - MDUs) will generally expect their landlord to undertake any necessary works to the communal TV aerial system to ensure that television services are maintained through the switchover and beyond.






 

The needs of all groups in the private rented sector, including those in houses, will provide challenges for freeholders, landlords, managing agents and letting agents. The profile of the providers in this sector is extremely varied from the single property buy to let landlords to the corporate landlord with thousands of homes.

 

For leaseholders their role, rights and responsibilities in respect of upgrading the communal TV aerial will be contained in their lease (or title deeds in Scotland). They will normally need to act in consultation and co-operation with the freeholder, the managing agent or management company and the other leaseholders. Leaseholders in blocks of flats may have different requirements or expectations to those of tenants in respect of digital switchover and as a result, property managers may have to find a balance between their respective demands in mixed tenure blocks.

 

There are two main options for a communal TV aerial system: Master Antenna TV and Integrated Reception Service although others are available. 

 

There has been increasing interest amongst property managers of blocks of private flats in Sky’s Free Shared Dish http://communaltv.sky.com/sharedDishOptions.aspx as a cost effective and efficient solution to future proofing those blocks for switchover and minimising ‘satellite rash’.

 

Preparing for switchover is possibly more difficult for property managers in the private sector, than any other. The number of interested parties in the decision making process can increase the complexity. There is not always a single driver or initiator and there can be conflicting interests. There can be no doubt however, that upgrading the TV aerial for digital switchover at the earliest opportunity should increase the letability of the property for landlords and be a selling point for leaseholders.

ADVICE FOR LANDLORDS ON GAS SAFETY





 

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is warning landlords to make sure that their gas safety checks are up to date and their gas appliances maintained in a safe condition.

By law, all landlords must have gas appliances, including heating systems, checked annually by an installer registered with the Council for Registered Gas Installers (CORGI). Once completed, the landlord should provide the tenant with a copy of the safety check record.


If gas does not burn correctly, it produces excess carbon monoxide, which is highly poisonous.


Over the last ten years there have been 247 carbon monoxide poisoning incidents in the Midlands, resulting in 36 fatalities and 464 non-fatal injuries. In terms of fatalities, last year was the worst in the past ten with 19 incidents causing 8 deaths and 27 injuries.


Carbon monoxide is a hidden killer with early symptoms often as simple as tiredness or a flu-like feeling.


HSE’s Nick Ratty, Head of Operations for HSE in the West Midlands Region, said: “Carbon monoxide poisoning strikes without warning. You can’t see, hear, taste or even smell carbon monoxide.


“Around two thirds of all fatal incidents would probably have been avoided if gas appliances had been serviced by a competent installer in the previous year.


“These gas safety checks only normally cost around £50 and are vitally important, allowing faults to be detected long before they pose a risk to the occupier.


”Landlords of rented properties should also remember that gas boilers, gas fires and other gas appliances should be regularly maintained in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions by a CORGI registered installer as well as having annual gas safety checks carried out on them.


“Any landlords attending The Landlord Show who would like more information about their responsibilities are welcome to visit our stand, where our team of advisers will be happy to help them. Advice and guidance is also available on the HSE website.”


All residential landlords must:



  • Ensure that gas appliances, flues and associated gas pipe work etc are maintained, in a safe condition, by a CORGI registered installer;
  • Have an annual safety check carried out, by a CORGI registered installer, on each gas appliance that they own in the properties that they let; and
  • Provide tenants with a copy of the record before they move in and within 28 days of each subsequent annual check being performed.

LANDLORDS GAS SAFETY

LANDLORDS ARE REMINDED OF THEIR DUTIES TO MAINTAIN AND SERVICE GAS APPLIANCES UNDER HEALTH & SAFETY LAW.


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has today warned landlords that are required by law to have their tenants' gas appliances and flues maintained and annual safety checks carried out by a CORGI registered gas installer. The warning follows the sentencing today at Grimsby Crown Court, of Lea Fields, a Grimsby landlady, who ignored an improvement notice served on her by HSE, despite receiving warnings of the possible consequences if she failed to comply.


The improvement notice required that she arrange for a CORGI registered gas installer to carry out safety checks of the gas appliances and flues within a rental property at Barcroft Street, Grimsby. Despite the notice, the appliances and flues were not checked to ensure they were safe to use.


Following the hearing, HSE Inspector Chris Chambers said:


"Landlords can't hide their heads in the sand when it comes to gas safety. It's their legal duty to ensure that all gas appliances and flues are maintained in a safe condition and are checked for safety at least once a year by a CORGI registered gas installer. Landlords who fail to do so put lives at risk and may end up with a substantial fine or even imprisonment."


Following an inspection by a CORGI Inspector called in by HSE, the gas fire and flue in the lounge were found to be unsafe. There was evidence that fumes had been leaking into the lounge and the flue to the fire was found to be leaking fumes into other flues at the property. The gas fire was made safe by the CORGI Inspector who disconnected it from the mains gas supply.


Lea Fields was sentenced to 200 hours community service, and ordered to pay costs of £500 after pleading guilty to breaches of Section 33 (1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulations 36(2) and 36(3) of Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.


Last year research commissioned by the HSE as a part of its wider gas safety review revealed that 45% of households were unaware of the dangers of CO poisoning from gas appliances, which killed 16 people in 2005/06.


HMO LICENSING: A GUIDE FOR LANDLORDS


 

What iS lICENSING?

The Housing Act 2004 has introduced changes to the regulation of HMOs through the introduction of licensing schemes.  The introduction of HMO licensing aims to improve controls of HMOs and raise standards within some of the highest risk properties which house many vulnerable people.  Licensing aims to ensure HMOs are adequately managed and risks to occupants reduced.


We've included a page of information, courtesy of Southampton City Council in our legal information section, to view the page please click here.

With the exception of the main search engine bots, the use of data-mining/extraction software or bots by any company that is not collecting data for a search engine is strictly forbidden! In particular the use of Picscout will be treated as 'hacking'. and as such will be prosecuted.