ARLA Propertymark says letting and managing agents should be aware that they can raise ‘safeguarding alerts’ if they are concerned about the condition of a property.
The alerts can be issued to fire brigades, environmental health teams or the National Grid.
The reminder comes as a result of ARLA being contacted by Her Majesty’s Senior Coroner for Inner west London, following a case of a woman whose death was caused by an explosion in her apartment, triggered by a broken gas pipe below the kitchen floor.
Evidence included details of an apparent dispute between the tenants and the freeholders’ management company.
The management company had organised for an independent surveyor to attend the flat in preparation for court action. The independent surveyor’s report detailed extensive work required on the flat and made it clear that the work was the responsibility of the tenants.
ARLA says: “While the coroner’s report states that there is no criticism of the managing agents, it has drawn our attention to advice from London Fire Brigade that agents should be aware of the opportunity to raise a safeguarding alert with local fire services in the event of concerns about the condition of residential property.
“Essentially there was an opportunity for the managing agents to raise a safeguarding alert relating to gas and electricity supply, the property’s structure, excessive hoarding, possible vermin infestation and black mould. The alert could have been made under the Care Act 2014.”
The association emphasises that there was no criticism of the the managing agents, who acted entirely within the correct legal framework.
“They were simply unaware of this possible route of raising a safeguarding alert to Environmental Health, the National Grid or London Fire Brigade. The Care Act does not impose a legal duty on private sector managing agents (or landlords themselves)” says an ARLA statement.