Traditionally seen as something that only affects the elderly, trips and falls around the home cost the NHS an estimated £425 million per year - and the reality is that missing a step or tripping over can happen to anyone. While tenants are responsible for keeping properties clear of the kind of detritus and debris that lead to trips or falls, The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 makes it quite clear that landlords bear the responsibility for any systemic or structural deficiencies that cause accidents. And with consequences ranging from costly to deadly, it’s well worth investing in preventative measures.
So what can letting agents and landlords do to prevent trips and falls around the home?
Conduct a thorough risk assessment and minimize the risk areas in your property.
Your risk assessment (which can be carried out by the landlord or an external inspector) should take particular note of the common hazard areas within a property and make any necessary alterations. The condition of bannisters and stair-rails should be examined closely while landlords could consider upgrading the safety aspects of bathrooms by adding anti-slip mats and handrails around the bath/shower areas. Any external areas, such as balconies or raised mezzanine areas should also be appropriately safeguarded.
Reduce trip hazardsIn addition to structural checks, landlords should also check for hazards like loose carpeting or tiles, particularly on stair areas. Reducing the need for hazards like extension cords by providing numerous, well-situated plug sockets is another way to safeguard your property.
Provide sufficient lighting
Insufficient visibility is a key component in many accidents. Ensuring the rooms in your property maximise the natural light they have access to (something to check for in property inspections) and that your stairwells and changes in levels are lit by the necessary wattage will reduce the likelihood of trips and falls due to inadequate visibility.
Scheduling regular inspections is the only way to give you an accurate idea of how the property is being kept – and the existence of internal hazards that may have cropped up since your tenants’ check-in.
Be approachable and available
Remember your tenants are your eyes and ears around the property. Being readily available and easily contactable is the best way to ensure they report any issues they have to you. Being reactive to repairs is the best way to fix smaller concerns before they mushroom into bigger problems. When it comes to trips and falls around the home, prevention really is significantly better than the cure.