10:09 AM, 30th November 2011, About 12 years ago 2
One in three buy to let homes have major safety hazards putting tenants at risk, claims a government survey of homes in England.
The English Housing Survey discloses just over 28% of privately rented homes have a ‘category 1 hazard’ – compared with 14.5% of social housing, just under 11% of housing association properties and 21.5% of privately owned homes.
A category 1 hazard includes risks that can lead to death, cancer, permanent loss of consciousness, serious burns, losing a limb, eyesight problems, heart attacks or poisoning.
If a category 1 hazard is identified, a council should close the property or order an immediate repair.
The survey shows tenants in flats are most at risk, around one in four having at least one hazard while older properties are more likely to have faults – at 41% compared to just 4.6% of new homes.
According to other government statistics, England has around 3.2 million buy to let homes – meaning tenants face dangers in at least 1 million rental homes.
In total, households are at risk in around 5 million English homes with hazards.
Conveyancing firm SearchFlow reckons property owners would have to spend more than £52 billion to remove all the hazards – but suggests many could be dealt with for less than £1,000 in 85% of cases.
Stuart Pearce, chief executive of SearchFlow, said: “When private dwellings are assessed by local authorities, there’s a one in five chance there will be a hazard present which requires immediate attention. This is a cost most property owners don’t factor into their plans and can therefore prove very hard to deal with.
“If you don’t make the required repairs – even if you can’t afford to – local authorities have the power to issue prohibition orders, which mean you aren’t legally allowed to live there any longer. In this situation, the only option for the owner may be to sell at a knockdown price.”