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Cheap landlords risking death-trap homes

28 January 2015 Staff Reporter

With rents stagnating throughout Australia, landlords trying to save money on maintenance can end up paying a much bigger price.

According to Terri Scheer Insurance, the biggest insurance claim made by landlords is for loss of rent. However, executive manager Carolyn Parrella said cutting costs on maintenance could have a bigger price and cost lives.

“Landlords really do have a duty of care to make sure the house they are providing for rent is safe for people to live in,’’ Ms Parrella said.

She said cutting corners on pool fencing, smoke alarms, and wiring could turn investment properties into death traps.

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“I think swimming pool fences are probably the one that they (landlords) really need to pay a lot of attention to because, sadly, loss of life can occur very quickly and very silently.

“Sadly, we have had a few claims where someone drowned in pools where there has been some issues with inadequate fencing.”

Ms Parrella said aside from the financial penalty, owners face having to live with the idea their cost-cutting cost someone their life.

“There are very emotional things to consider, as well, that ‘money can’t take that away’ type of thing,’’ she said.

Ms Parrella said old or poor wiring was also something that could cause major issues for owners.

“If a property is built before a certain time, if it is an older house, we will ask when it was rewired or plumbed and if it hasn’t been, it's generally a risk we would not like to take on,’’ she said.

Aside from the potential loss of a home through fires caused by bad wiring, Ms Parrella said it would be devastating if someone was electrocuted.

She warned owners who didn’t act quickly to repair things such as rotting floorboards and stairs also increased the risk of someone being injured.

“If it is in poor repair, you are not going to attract the best tenants anyway,’’ she said.

Top 10 landlord insurance claims

1. Loss of rent

2. Malicious damage

3. Water damage

4. Legal liability

5. Storm damage

6. Water damage

7. Theft

8. Fusion — If a motor in a household electrical machine or appliance needs to be repaired or replaced because the motor has burnt out by electric current at the property.

9. Storm damage

10. Impact damage — if hit by motor vehicle or water craft, aircraft, space debris or satellites, falling trees or branches or TV antennae, satellite dishes or radio masts.

Source: Terri Scheer Insurance

Cheap landlords risking death-trap homes
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