The quick-thinking actions of a PropertySafe inspector saved a tenant from the very real potential of injury or death, the landlord’s property from significant damage and the agency from legal action. If your landlords ever question the benefits of a property safety inspection, the information in this story will convince them.
If you’ve ever needed solid evidence to convince landlords of the importance of a PropertySafe inspection at least every two years, this true story is a prime example. One of our experienced PropertySafe inspectors contacted us to advise of an incident at a regional property he inspected that could easily have ended in tragedy had he not been there.
On arrival at the property, the inspector noticed the male occupant standing on the front veranda smoking a cigarette. After completing his inspection of the property’s interior, the inspector proceeded to assess the exterior. Approaching the front of the building, the inspector became aware of the smell of gas. He immediately checked the gas metre with his gas detector and discovered a leak from one of the connections. The tenant, who was still holding a lit cigarette on the verandah, was just four metres from the gas metre.
The inspector asked the tenant if he had noticed the smell of gas and the tenant replied that he had, however, thinking nothing of it, he had not reported it. The inspector alerted the tenant of the imminent danger, contacted the property manager by phone and emailed his completed report with the urgent gas leak notification included while still onsite. Had the landlord not agreed to have a PropertySafe inspection conducted, this story could have had a very different ending. The tenant could have been injured or killed and the property could have been significantly damaged. Furthermore, despite not being notified of the issue by the tenant, the agency could have been placed at risk of a professional indemnity claim. If a tenant or visitor is injured on the property as a result of a safety breach, that person could sue the landlord, the agency and even the property manager.
Professional indemnity claims against Australian real estate agencies have been on the rise over the past ten to twelve years, growing at a faster rate than any other industry. You need only look into historic cases to see that the managing agency often faces the legal action when claims arise as a result of personal injury to a tenant or visitor to the property due to an unsafe living environment. Not being advised of the issue is not an argument that holds up in a court of law. Our legal system has established that property management agencies have a legal responsibility to protect the tenant, even against issues they may not be aware of.
The bottom line is landlords have a duty of care to provide a safe environment for the occupants of their rental property and any visitors to the property and, as managing agents engaged by the landlord, property managers are responsible to do all they can to ensure tenant safety through regular routine inspections and promptly attending to urgent repair requests.
The quickest and easiest action you can take as a property manager is recommend a PropertySafe inspection. By offering all landlords the opportunity to have a PropertySafe inspection report completed every two years, the onus is on them to accept or decline the offer. That means if something goes wrong, your agency is not at fault. If accepted, the inspection is completed by an experienced PropertySafe inspector and the landlord is sent a comprehensive report, which includes recommendations for action with a focus on safety. Click here to view a sample report to see what it looks for. As a property manager, you are immediately alerted to any major safety hazards, such as a gas leak. The report makes the landlord aware of the level of risk in their property enabling them to take action to mitigate those risks. To learn more about the benefits of a PropertySafe inspection, click here or call 1300 350 000.