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- Should Guernsey adopt more health and safety checks to protect tenants?
Should Guernsey adopt more health and safety checks to protect tenants?
head of Environmental Health in Guernsey, has called for regular
health & safety checks to protect tenants, improve living
conditions and reduce the risk of injury from fire or
property expert Michael Morris says:
Guernsey are not without protection now. There is a common law duty
of care that landlords owe to their tenants and which should apply
to Guernsey as it does in the UK. If the property is not safe
and the tenant is harmed, then the landlord would be responsible
and would face a civil action from the tenant.
"In the UK about
30 people die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning resulting
from badly installed or poorly maintained gas appliances. There are
approximately 30 deaths relating from electrics, with a further
4,000 accidents involving electricity. As a result, and in
addition to the duty of care, legislation has been introduced which
provides additional protections (and some responsibilities) to
the requirements in the UK?
a statutory duty to arrange an annual gas safety check by a Gas
Safe Registered Engineer. A copy of that check must be given
to the tenant on the grant of a new lease and also within 28 days
of the safety check. A copy must also be retained by the
landlord for a 2 year period. The gas safety check will ensure
that all fittings and flues are maintained safely and that all
appliances are safe and in good working order.
currently no statutory requirement for an annual electrics
check. However, this does not obviate the landlord from
responsibility. The Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 (and a number of
other laws) require that any electrical wiring and equipment is
safe at the start of every tenancy and then maintained
thereafter. It has become best practice for landlords to
obtain a periodic inspection report before letting their
properties, and is recommended that a periodic inspection report be
obtained every 5 years or at least at the start of each new
tenancy. The inspection should include checks to ensure that
there are no broken or missing accessories, no accessible live
parts, no signs of burning at accessories or electrical equipment
and a manual test of any electrical appliances.
the consequences if a landlord fails to comply?
severe penalties in theUK enforced by the Health & Safety
Executive, if a landlord fails to comply with their duties.
electrical system and / or appliances are unsafe, then the landlord
has committed a criminal offence. In addition to (in all
probability) invalidating their own buildings insurance the
defaulting landlord may receive a fine of £5,000 and / or up to 6
months imprisonment. In addition, the landlord may face a
claim for civil damages and if the failure to comply results in a
death, manslaughter charges.
"If the gas
safety regulations have not been complied with, then in addition to
the civil claim and (in the event of a death) manslaughter
charge, the guilty landlord will face an unlimited fine from the
courts and an unlimited prison sentence.
Guernsey introduce similar legislation?
"On the whole,
landlords in Guernsey do provide safe rental accommodation. It
is important to have a sensible approach which balances protecting
the safety of the tenant with the cost on the landlord (which would
in all likelihood be passed on to the tenant in the form of higher
rents). It would be disproportionate to have Environmental
Health visiting each and every property being let.
the UK position, compliance could be ensured without too great an
inconvenience to local landlord. Whilst there is a cost of
compliance, Val Cameron makes a fair point when she says 'you can't
compare these costs with the loss of life'. "