A recent blog post has caught my eye as it relates directly to a template we have just added to the InventoryBase Template Library.
The blog by @nearlylegal concerns the unfortunate accident of the tenant; Mrs R, who was mowing her front garden when she stepped backwards onto an inspection cover which gave way.
Poor Mrs R’s left leg and body fell through the cover into the void beneath; an underground chamber used for the purpose of water sewage.
Mrs R was awarded £15,000 in damages as a ‘simple pressure test’ to establish the condition of the inspection cover was never carried out and was considered, by the Judge presiding over the case, to be a reasonable requirement for a safe tenancy.
The judge noted that there was nothing in the ‘scanty’ documentation of the inspections to show this had been done and that “any landlord taking reasonable care to ensure that a proper inspection of inspection covers over voids within the gardens of domestic premises was undertaken given the clear and obvious risks.”
So my point here is that it is clear that not only should a property be properly inventoried but so should the gardens, communal areas and any property related areas.
Now I know some of my peers have argued that to ‘pressure test’ the cover would put them at risk from injury which I can totally understand but even a visual inspection would have noted that the cover was rusted, not easy to see and would therefore been highlighted as a potential risk which would (or at least should) have prompted the landlord to make a more detailed inspection if he / she had taken closer interest in the property.
If you think that an accident such as this is rare you only have to complete a quick search on the internet to discover that around 300,000 individuals in the UK attended Accident and Emergency departments after having an accident in the garden in 2004.
So as an inventory professional; what should we be looking out for?
- long grass that can easily hide deep divots or drain covers (severe injury / drowning)
- broken pathways / uneven surfaces (trips or falls)
- unsecured broken / rusting tools (injury / infection)
- electrical tools left out in wet weather (electrocution)
- unknown waste (VOCs)
- garden hoses and taps that appear unused (legionella)
The report in our Template Library looks at various issues and risks that should be considered during a property viewing and or visit but can easily be customised to suit your own requirements or that of the instructing authority.
So for me; the landlord has a duty to inspect the property and identify whether there is a ‘clear and obvious danger’ and the only way to really know and understand those risks is by carrying out a detailed risk assessment or property inspection and is a requirement under Fitness For Human Habitation Act 2018 that lists 29 hazards that will need to be assessed to ensure the safety of the tenant and their visitors.
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