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Rental standards up, but sector still needs to improve – new report

There have been “significant leaps forward” in the standards of the private rental sector in the past four years, but safety is still compromised in too many properties according to a new report.

In terms of the weaknesses in the sector, the report by rental insurer AXA says just 58 per cent of properties have had a gas inspection in the past year despite these being an annual requirement by law.

Four in 10 tenants, meanwhile, 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. This is still a marked improvement on AXA’s 2014 survey however – prior to the legal requirement – when six in 10 tenants lacked them.

Only a third of tenants say they have seen the EPC, up from 19 per cent in 2014, and just 15 per cent of those eligible have received the government’s mandatory How To Rent guide.

Three quarters of tenants did not know 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.

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 Most tenants in this group also cited damp or out-of-date heating systems at the same time.

“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” says Gareth Howell, managing director of AXA Insurance.

“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.”

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