Maintenance & Safety
These notes deal with the question of the obligations upon a landlord to maintain and repair the property being let. The landlord’s obligation to repair is now largely contained in the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006. The notes also touch on the separate safety regulations which may apply.
The repairing standard
The house will meet the repairing standard imposed by the Act if:
- The house is wind and water tight and in all respects reasonably fit for human habitation
- The structure and exterior of the house (including drains, gutters and external pipes) are in a reasonable state of repair and proper working order.
- The installations in the house for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation, space heating and heating water are in a reasonable state or repair and proper working order
- Any fixtures, fittings and appliances provided by the landlord under the tenancy are in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order
- Any furnishings provided under the tenancy are capable of being used safely for the purpose for which they are designed.
The landlord must ensure that these standards are met throughout the period of tenancy.
Exceptions to this are –
- Work which the tenant is required to carry out under the terms of the tenancy, but only if the tenancy is for a minimum period of three years.
- Work arising from the tenant’s failure to use the house in a proper manner
- Work to rebuild or reinstate a house after destruction or damage by fire, storm etc.
A tenant can apply to the Private Rented Housing Panel for a ruling as to whether the landlord has failed to comply with these duties, but must notify the landlord before doing so.
The Private Rented Housing Committee may order the landlord to carry out such work as is necessary to ensure that the house meets the standard. Such an order would specify the period allowed to carry out the work.
Failure to comply with a repair order-
- It is a criminal offence not to comply with a repair order
- The PRHC may issue a rent relief order reducing the rent payable by the tenant by up to 90%
- The local authority may carry out the work and recover the cost from the landlord.
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 may apply.
Broadly speaking the regulations provide that all appliances and installations must be safe. It is best to do this by ensuring regular checks by a competent person.
We would recommend –
- Annual checks by a competent person on all appliances etc.
- Maintaining records of all checks carried out and what was covered
- Ensuring all instruction booklets for appliances are available to the tenant
- Gas Safety Certificate. A valid certificate issued by a CORGI registered engineer must be provided and updated annually
The Scottish Government has produced revised statutory guidance on the requirements for smoke alarms. A copy of the revised statutory guidance is available on the PRHP website by visiting www.prhpscotland.gov.uk The revised Domestic Technical Handbook guidance states there should be at least
- One functioning smoke alarm in the room which is frequently used by the occupants for general daytime living purposes
- One functioning smoke alarm in every circulation space, such as hallways and landings
- One heat alarm in every kitchen
- All alarms should be hardwired and interlinked
The number and position of the alarms will depend on the size and layout of the house. There should be at lease one alarm on each floor. The landlord should either install smoke and fire detectors that meet the standard set by building regulations or be able to justify why a lesser level of protection is appropriate in a particular house.
If there is a requirement for a particular house to meet more stringent standards, then these more stringent standards apply.
An Alarm should be installed in accordance with the recommendations contained in BS5839 Part 6 and the landlord should ensure the alarm is regularly maintained in accordance with manufacturers recommendations. The fitting of a hard wired smoke alarm may require a building warrant and the relevant local authorities should be consulted.
The statutory guidance is part of the Scottish Government Advise Pack for Private Landlords. It is issued under sections 13(4A) and 19B(4) of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006. Regard must be had to this guidance in determining whether a house meets the repairing standards in relation to installations for the supply of electricity and in relation to electrical fixtures, fittings and appliances. Regard must also be had to it in determining who is competent to carry out an electrical safety inspection. This guidance takes effect from 1st December 2015.
Private landlords in Scotland are required by law to ensure that a rented house meets the repairing standard at the start of a tenancy and throughout a tenancy. One part of the repairing standard is
- The installations in the house for the supply of electricity
- Electrical fixtures and fittings
- Any appliances provided by the landlord under the tenancy
A tenant under a new tenancy commencing on or after 1st December 2015 must be provided with a copy of an electrical installation condition report (EICR) before the tenancy commences.
A tenant under an existing tenancy at 30th November must be provided with a copy of an EICR by December 2016 unless their tenancy ends before that date.
All upholstered furniture must comply with all fire requirements under the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations — furniture which complies will carry the appropriate label to that effect. The regulations cover chairs and suites, beds and headboards, cushions and pillows, upholstered nursery goods. Care should also be taken that nursery furniture or bunk beds also comply with relevant British or European standards. Any parts subject to wear and tear, such as harnesses or locking mechanisms, should be regularly checked to ensure that they remain safe.
A number of the safety regulations apply only to landlords who are letting in the course of a business. However, unless the landlord is genuinely involved only in a one-off letting situation for a short term, we would recommend that the landlord assumes the regulations will apply.