Britain’s buy-to-let death traps – Thousands of landlords fail to address cat 1 household hazards

Data from the UK’s only combined lettings inventory and property compliance specialists, VeriSmart, has highlighted the most common hazards being missed by buy-to-let landlords within their rental properties.

In the last year, VeriSmart conducted over 60,000 property inspections and reports on rental properties within the buy-to-let sector, with 4,521 of these resulting in at least one Housing Health & Safety Rating Assessment (HHSRS) per inspection (some with more than 3) with the following common issues the most prevalent.

Smoke detectors

Worryingly, 40% of all health and safety assessments flagged either a missing or non-functional smoke detector.


26% of assessments noted a danger of falling on stairs and between or on separate levels of a house.

Electrical issues

Electrical issues accounted for 11% of all hazards flagged during health and safety assessments.

Carbon monoxide

7% of assessments found a lack of a working carbon monoxide detector.

Damp and Mould

Damp and mould were flagged as a risk in 4% of properties.


Uncovered ponds or swimming pools posed a hazard in 2% of all properties.

Structural integrity

The threat of structural collapse or falling elements was also an issue in 2% of all properties.

Fire hazards (1%), excess cold (0.6%) and domestic hygiene (0.6%) were also an issue in a small proportion of properties.

Founder of VeriSmart, Jonathan Senior, commented:

“While many landlords are providing up to scratch accommodation, it’s really quite worrying that we’re seeing so many fail to address some of the most serious hazards in the home.

The lack of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and the danger of falling on stairs ranking as high as they do is particularly worrying. These are classed as category one hazards and so there is no excuse to have them present in a rental property.

With the introduction of the Fitness for Human Habitation Act in place since the 20th March this year, along with many additional changes in legislation, landlords and their agents are now more at risk of being sued by tenants for breach of contract for unfit properties. It is therefore more vital than ever that landlords ensure their properties meet the required minimum health and safety standards.”

Top 10 Hazards
Hazard as a proportion of Health & Safety Assessments
Smoke Detectors missing or non-working
Falls on stairs and between and on levels
Electrical issues
Carbon Monoxide Detectors missing or non-working.
Damp & Mould issues
Ponds & Swimming Pools uncovered and a hazard to young people
Structural collapse & falling elements
Fire Hazards
Excess Cold
Domestic Hygiene, Pests & Refuse
Top Cat 1 Issues being ignored or not corrected
Smoke Detectors missing or non-working
Carbon Monoxide Detectors missing or non-working.
Falls on stairs and between and on levels
Top Cat 2 Issues being ignored or not corrected
Structural collapse & falling elements
Domestic Hygiene, Pests & Refuse


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