Landlords must prepare for the Homes Bill – starting with entry by intruder
WE’VE all seen the movie Home Alone so we know Christmas isn’t just the season for giving; it’s become the season for taking as well. With burglaries up 20% at this time of year, landlords and tenants have grown to expect that Santa may not be the only intruder in their home at Christmas.
But now, with the advent of the government’s Homes Bill, burglary, or ‘entry by intruder’ to give it its more formal title, is something landlords should consider long after the last present has been unwrapped. Currently listed as one of the 29 hazards on the HHSRS Bill, which is expected to form the basis of the government’s Homes Bill, entry by intruder could find itself cast out of the shadows and into the spotlight in 2019.
What will that mean for landlords?
Greater clarity, hopefully. At the moment the regulations around ‘entry by intruder’ are very woolly – other than having to provide their tenants with a safe home, with working locks on all windows and doors, landlords are not legally required to do anything else. Significantly, they’re also not currently liable for any tenant loss in the event of a break-in (regardless of the cause). They can be fined if tenants can prove that it was inadequate security that led to the break-in but in reality the fines vary and prosecution is patchy.
Industry experts predict that close attention will be paid to this area under the Homes Bill – with security measures expected to be subject to tighter definitions and more clarification around the penalties facing landlords who don’t comply with the regulations.
It’s possible that some security measures may be stipulated under the Bill, with adequate external lighting, working burglar alarms and double locks all potential candidates for mandatory inclusion. While these stipulations might initially sound expensive, landlords should see them as a good thing. After all, when it comes to property, they have just as much vested interest in keeping a property protected and safe as their tenants.
How can landlords prepare?
While it’s hard to prepare for a Bill whose content you can’t anticipate, the best way for landlords to set themselves up for the Bill is to conduct a thorough security review. All door and window locks should be tested and landlords should consider fitting alarms and external lighting. Outbuildings like garages and sheds should be subject to the same checks as the main part of the property itself. It’s important to stress, however, that ‘Entry by intruder’ is just one of the 29 hazards on the HHSRS. Any security review should be part of a greater property review (encompassing hazards such as domestic waste, carbon monoxide and asbestos to name just a few). When it comes to protecting rental properties from hazard, a change is coming in 2019. Landlords must be prepared for it.
For more information on ‘Entry by Intruders’ why not download our FREE e-book ‘HHSRS Guide Entry by Intruders’ which you can download here. Alternatively if you’re looking for further details on the HHSRS list itself, please take a look at our FREE ‘HHSRS Checklist’ which you can download here.