The Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Simon Coveney, recently signed the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017 (“Regulations”) which will come into effect on 1 July 2017. The Regulations will revoke and consolidate all existing legislation governing minimum standards for rented accommodation and expand upon the minimum standards required.

The Regulations will be enforced by Local Authorities, with landlords subject to fines of up to €5,000 for breaches of the Regulations.

Under the Regulations, a reasonable standard of repair and maintenance will be expected from private landlords, excluding approved housing bodies, properties in use by the HSE, holiday residences and structures capable of being moved. The minimum standards relate to, inter alia, the structural condition of rented accommodation, provision of sanitary facilities, availability of adequate heating, food preparation, storage and laundry, lighting and ventilation, as well as fire safety mechanisms.

Structural Condition

All rented accommodation must be maintained ‘in a proper structural repair’ internally and externally, and must ‘not [be] defective due to dampness or otherwise.’

The Regulations have added a safety measure against falls from windows, by providing that where a window has an opening section through which a person may fall and the opening section is more than 1400mm above external ground level, sufficient safety restrictors must be fitted to prevent such falls.

Sanitary Facilities

Tenants must have adequate access to a sink and bath/shower with hot and cold running water. Each bathroom must be separated by a wall, with sufficient ventilation, drainage and privacy.

Heating

Any room intended to be used habitually must contain adequate heating facilities and sufficient ventilation, with the exclusion of kitchens with a floor space less than 6.5 square meters. Sufficient ventilation must be available in all rooms for the expulsion of fumes and tenants must be able to control their method of heating. Carbon monoxide alarms will also become mandatory under the Regulations and must be maintained accordingly.

Food Preparation, Storage and Laundry

All rented accommodation must contain a four-ring hob with oven and grill with suitable facilities to extract fumes; a fridge with suitable freezing facilities; microwave; sink with adequate access to water and drainage; suitable access to kitchen storage; a washing machine or access to communal washing facilities; and where there is no outside space, a dryer or communal drying facilities. Responsibility to maintain the above rests with the landlord.

Lighting

Rooms intended for habitual use must have access to sufficient natural lighting, as well as adequate and suitable artificial lighting. Hallways, staircases and landings must also possess a means of satisfactory artificial lighting.

Fire Safety

All rented accommodation must have access to a self-contained fire detection and alarm system, as well as a suitably located fire blanket. Multi-unit buildings must have working emergency lighting systems, with a suitable fire detection and alarm system in common areas and an emergency evacuation plan. All detection, alarm and emergency lighting systems must be maintained in line with current standards.

Enforcement

Local Authorities are responsible for ensuring compliance with the Regulations. The Government Strategy on rental accommodation prioritises strengthening the inspection capacity of Local Authorities to increase the number and frequency of inspections of rental properties.

Enforcement of the Regulations will occur through Improvement Notices following a finding of a contravention, including a request that Landlords remedy the issue within a specified time frame. Where no compliance arises, a Prohibition Notice can be issued by the Local Authority which directs a landlord not to re-let the property until the issues have been dealt with.

Sanctions

Failure to comply with a Prohibition Notice can result in a penalty on conviction of up to €5,000 and €400 for each day the offence continues. Moreover, the landlord may also be liable for the Local Authority’s costs incurred throughout the proceedings.

The new Regulations can be found here: Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017

See link to Government press release here.