The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has come forward in support of the government’s new Office for Product Safety and Standards in the wake of several fatal fires, and it’s something landlords should bear in mind.
The Grenfell Tower fire last June, which killed 71 people and injured 70 others, was found to have been started by a Hotpoint fridge-freezer, although several other factors exacerbated the situation and led to the tragic outcome.
In the wake of this, as well as multiple other fires across the country that were caused by faulty appliances, the government is setting up a new Office for Product Safety and Standards in order to identify consumer risk and manage responses to large-scale product recalls and repairs.
Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said: “The new Office for Product Safety and Standards will strengthen the UK’s already tough product safety regime and will allow consumers to continue to buy secure in the knowledge there is an effective system in place if products need to be repaired or replaced.”
The RLA, which supports landlords nationally, has spoken out in favour of the new measures, stating that they welcome any move that improves product safety across the board. The association also backs the creation of a public register of product recalls, an idea conceived by the London Fire Brigade’s Total Recall Campaign, as an extra measure for consumers to stay safe.
Who’s responsible for white goods in a rental property?
There is a common misconception that white goods – including washing machines, fridge-freezers, tumble dryers and dishwashers – are automatically the responsibility of the landlord if they are present when the tenant moves in. In fact, Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act omits to mention white goods as a landlord responsibility, meaning there is no statutory legal obligation for them to maintain or upkeep such appliances.
However, a contractual term in the tenancy agreement must state who is responsible for the repair of white goods, and it can fall to either the landlord or the tenant. While many landlords will opt to take on the maintenance for the white goods they have provided for the property, it can also be written into the tenancy terms that it is the tenant’s responsibility, which is perfectly legal and acceptable.
White goods must be provided in a reasonable state and proper working order, and must be safe to use. The NLA provides a list for landlords of all product recall and safety notices for appliances, but it is not fully inclusive.