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Carbon Monoxide poisoning

publication date: Apr 12, 2007
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monoxideStatistically, there are more injuries and deaths through faulty electrics, particularly when they cause fires, than by carbon monoxide poisoning.

This shocking fact is the reason that ARLA registered Countrywide Residential Lettings are taking a firm stand on the new Electrical Safety Regulations, with the introduction of a Company Policy that all properties let through the agency are safety checked.

“We take the view that as letting agents we have a duty of care to both landlords and their tenants, ensuring that the properties we let are fully safety compliant.” says Managing Director, John Hards.

“No agent should let a property without a gas safety certificate, and the same is true, we believe, of electrical safety.”

The Company Policy was agreed following Counsel’s Opinion, delivered in a report running to some 40 pages, which included reference to Case Law. The summary clearly states that, “Provisions forming part of the Housing Act 2004, which were enforced from 6th July 2006, specifically defined HMOs as a property occupied by 3 or more persons who do not form a single household, sharing one or more basic amenity. Furthermore, Statutory Instrument 2006 No 372 confirmed the need for HMOs to have electrical safety checks.”

In addition, The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 impose a statutory obligation on a landlord to ensure that all electrical appliances left as part of a let property are ‘safe’. Professional safety checks are, therefore, the only diligent way to establish that appliances are, indeed, ‘safe’.

Anyone who questions whether tests are a legal requirement, even objecting to a test, “should understand that it is illegal to put anybody at risk of injury or death. And this is borne out by recent Case Law.” John Hards confirms.

“There is no financial benefit to us, as a company, for setting this Policy. Indeed, it is costly to manage. However, we are not prepared to put tenants at risk. Landlords should understand that they, themselves, could suffer severe penalties in the event of an accident and, in today’s competitive market, their properties may suffer extended voids if they do not have the full safety checks to ensure tenant security.” he warns. “Tenants have a right to ask for, and receive, copies of all safety checks, and to ensure that they are current.”

Counsel also warned that, “a professional managing agent may be found wanting in the exercise of due care and skill in property management if it simply never raises the issue of electrical testing with the landlord, but instead simply assumes (or hopes) that all is well.

“It seems quite possible that, in an appropriate case, a managing agent could find itself being prosecuted for gross negligence manslaughter in a case where it failed to have the electrical supply to a property properly checked and maintained, and where a tenant was subsequently killed as a result of undetected defects in the electrical system.”

Finally, Case Law indicates that an agent is not normally bound to follow a principal’s instructions (i.e. the Landlord’s - not to have a safety check) if that would involve an illegal or void act. Consequently, John urges ARLA to adopt a proactive stance on this issue, by requiring member agents to ensure that electrical safety checks are conducted on all rental properties. “We have taken a firm stand, and intend to maintain that stand in the best interests of all our customers.” he ended.