What do the Regulations do?
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. The standards relate to structural condition, provision of sanitary facilities, food preparation, storage and laundry, availability of adequate heating, lighting and ventilation, safety of oil, electricity and gas installations, fire safety and refuse facilities. The Regulations apply to all private rented accommodation with the exception of holiday lets, lettings by the HSE or “by a housing authority pursuant to any of their functions under the Housing Acts 1966 to 2014, and is a caravan, mobile home or a structure or a thing (whether on wheels or not) that is capable of being moved from one place to another”.
What does this mean for landlords now?
Each Dwelling must be in “a proper state of structural repair”. A proper state of structural repair” is defined in the Regulations as 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. It further states where a window has an opening section through which a person may fall, and the bottom of the opening section is more than 1400mm above external ground level, suitable safety restrictors shall be fitted. Safety restrictors shall restrain the window sufficiently to prevent such falls.
Tenants must have exclusive access to a water closet with a dedicated wash hand sink adjacent to it and a fixed bath or shower. The sink and the bath/shower must have a continuous supply of cold water and a facility for the piped supply of hot water.
Every room, including bathroom intended for use, by the tenant of the house as a habitable room must contain a permanently fixed appliance for heating. There must also be ventilation for the safe and effective removal of fumes. All houses must have suitably located devices for the detection and alarm of carbon monoxide.
Food preparation, storage and laundry
All Dwellings must have exclusive access to the following:
- 4 ring hob with oven and grill,
- suitable facilities for the effective removal of fumes through a cooker hood or extractor fan,
- Fridge and freezer or fridge-freezer,
- Microwave oven,
- Sink with a pipe supply of cold water hot water,
- Suitable and adequate number of kitchen presses for food storage,
- Washing machine or access to a communal washing machine facility within the curtilage of the Dwelling.
- Clothes-dryer if the Dwelling does not have a private garden or yard
Every room, intended for use, by the tenant of the house as a habitable room must have adequate natural lighting. Every hall, stairs and landing and every room used, (or intended for use by the tenants) should have suitable and adequate manes of artificial lighting.
The window of every room with a bath or shower and a water closet should be suitably and adequately screened to ensure privacy.
Every Dwelling must have a suitable self-contained fire detection and alarm system. Each Dwelling must also have a suitably located fire blanket. Every self-contained Dwelling in a multi-unit building must contain a suitable fire detection and alarm and an emergency evacuation plan. A suitable fire detection and alarm shall be provided in common areas within a multi-unit building. Emergency lighting shall be provided in all common areas within a multi-unit building.
The Dwelling must have access to suitable adequate pest and vermin proof refuse storage facilities.
Gas, Oil and Electricity Installations
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
The Regulations will impose increased obligations on landlords with regard to their rental properties. Landlords must ensure that the Dwelling and all appliances and services to it are maintained and continue to comply with the Regulations throughout the term of the letting. Sufficient information shall be provided to the tenant about the rented property, the fixed building services, appliances and their routine maintenance requirements so that the occupant can operate them correctly.
What happens if a landlord breaches the Regulations?
Enforcement of the Regulations will occur through Improvement Notices following a finding of a contravention of the Regulations, including a request that Landlords remedy the issue within a set time frame. Where no compliance arises, a Prohibition Notice can be issued from the Local Authority which directs a landlord not to re-let the property until the issues have been dealt with.
Failure to comply with a Prohibition Notice can result in fines of up to €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or both. A landlord who continues to breach the Regulations after conviction will be guilty of a further offence for every day the breach continues resulting in a fine of up to €400 per day.
The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.