With the increase in demand for rented accommodation, many property owners may be considering letting additional properties or renting properties for the first time. All landlords should be aware of their legal duty to ensure that the accommodation they offer for rent meets certain minimum standards.

These standards are set out in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017 (the 2017 Regulations) which came into effect on 1 July 2017. These regulations replace earlier regulations from 2008 and 2009.

What kind of properties do the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017 apply to?

The 2017 Regulations apply to all houses (including flats and maisonettes) which are let, or available for letting for rent or other valuable consideration. The 2017 Regulations do not apply to houses which are let as a holiday home or housing, which is let as communal housing by the HSE or certain specific bodies.

What are the duties of a landlord?

Below are some of the key duties set out in the 2017 Regulations:

Structural condition

Landlords must ensure that the property is in a proper state of structural repair. The property must be sound both internally and externally and the roof, windows, floors, ceilings, walls, doors, stairs etc. must be in good condition.

Where a window has a hazardous opening section, and the bottom of the opening section is more than 1,400mm above external ground level, suitable safety restrictors must be fitted.

Sanitary facilities

The house must have exclusive use of a water closet with a hand basin and a fixed bath or shower with a continuous supply of cold water and a facility for the piped supply of hot water.These facilities must be maintained in a safe condition with effective drainage and insulation and must be provided in a room separated from other rooms with appropriate ventilation.

Heating facilities

All habitable rooms must contain a permanently fixed form of heating which is safe and in good working order. Heating systems must be capable of being independently managed by the tenant. Houses must contain carbon monoxide detectors and alarms.

Food preparation, storage and laundry

Private landlords must supply and maintain certain facilities including a 4-ring hob with oven and grill, cooker hood or extractor fan, sink, a fridge freezer, microwave, suitable kitchen storage, access to a washing machine and drying facilities where the house does not include a garden or yard. Slightly separate rules apply to properties let by a housing authority or approved housing body which must provide for the installation of safe cooking equipment, cooker hood or extractor fan, a sink and hygienic means for storing food.

Fire safety

All houses must contain a suitable self-contained fire detection and alarm system and suitably located fire blanket. For multi-unit buildings, there must be an evacuation plan and common areas must also have alarm systems and emergency lighting.

Ventilation

All habitable rooms must have adequate ventilation to be maintained in good order and repair.

Gas, oil and electricity

Installations for the supply of gas, oil and electricity including pipework, storage facilities and electrical distribution boxes must be maintained in good repair and safe working order.

For more information on the obligations of a landlord please see the 2017 Regulations.

Consequences for failure to adhere to the Regulations

If a landlord fails to adhere to the 2017 Regulations they may be liable to penalties or prosecution. The local authority can issue a notice to the Landlord seeking certain improvements. If these are not adequately dealt with, the local authority may issue a prohibition notice, which will require the landlord to remedy the defects before the property can be re-let.

Key lessons for landlords

While there is an under-supply of rental accommodation in Ireland, this does not mean that the accommodation which is offered to tenants can be sub-standard. Property owners should ensure that they are aware of their obligations before offering a property to let. If there are any particular concerns, they should seek advice from their solicitors or letting agents.