New standards for rented residential accommodation will come into effect on 1 July 2017 with the introduction of the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017. We summarise the new obligations imposed on private residential landlords by the regulations.
Landlords of residential houses, including flats and maisonettes, are already obliged to comply with the minimum standards set out in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2008 and Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2009. The Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017 (the “2017 Regulations”) will come into operation on 1 July 2017 and will replace the existing regulations.
The existing minimum standards are retained in the 2017 Regulations but the regulations set new minimum standards in a variety of areas.
The 2017 Regulations will increase the extent of the landlord’s obligation to keep the rented property in a “proper state of structural repair”. In particular, the 2017 Regulations make it clear that the obligation relates to both the internal and external parts of the dwelling.
The full obligation is to ensure that the property is “sound, internally and externally, with roof, roofing tiles and slates, windows, floors, ceilings, walls, stairs, doors, skirting boards, fascia, tiles on any floor, ceiling and wall, gutters, down pipes, fittings, furnishings, gardens and common areas maintained in good condition and repair and not defective due to dampness or otherwise.”
The 2017 Regulations will introduce specific obligations to install safety restrictors on windows more than 1,400mm above external ground level and require the landlord to make efforts to prevent infestations of pests and vermin.
Landlords will be obliged to ensure that sanitary facilities are in “a safe condition” in addition to the existing obligation to keep them in good working order.
The 2017 Regulations will require that all houses contain suitably located carbon monoxide alarms. The obligation to provide effective heating appliances will now apply to all rooms including bathrooms or shower-rooms but excluding kitchens having a floor area of less than 6.5 square metres.
Under the 2017 Regulations, landlords will be obliged to ensure that suitable self-contained fire detection and alarm systems are provided. The 2017 Regulations will also introduce the requirement to provide suitable fire detection and alarm systems in the common areas of multi-unit buildings, that is, buildings with two or more houses that share a common access. As of 1 July 2017, all fire safety equipment will be required to be maintained in accordance with the standards produced by the National Standards Authority of Ireland.
A further new requirement is that tenants must be provided with sufficient information about the rented property, the fixed building services, appliances and their routine maintenance requirements to ensure that tenants can operate them correctly.
The 2017 Regulations will impose increased obligations on landlords with regard to their rental properties. Landlords are advised to consider if their properties comply with the new regulations prior to 1 July 2017.
While the 2017 Regulations impose obligations on landlords in respect of ‘common areas’ and the exterior of properties, it is not clear how a landlord can comply with these obligations in circumstances where the landlord does not own or control them, that is, for example, in instances where they are owned or controlled by an owners’ management company.
These changes will be relevant to all private residential landlords from multi-unit portfolio landlords to single property landlords.