Minimum standards for rented housing
Your landlord has a legal duty to make sure that your home meets certain minimum physical standards.
In general, the standards apply to dwellings rented from private landlords, local authorities and approved housing bodies (usually called housing associations). However, they do not apply to communal housing being let by the HSE or an approved housing body.
These standards are set out in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017. These Regulations replace the earlier Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2008 and the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) (Amendment) Regulations 2009.
Details of minimum standards
For each apartment, flat or house being rented as a separate unit, the landlord must ensure that the rental property is in a proper state of structural repair. The Regulations require the landlord to maintain the property in a sound state, inside and out. They specify that roofs, roofing tiles, slates, windows, floors, ceilings, walls, stairs, doors, skirting boards, fascias, tiles on any floor, ceiling and wall, gutters, down pipes, fittings, furnishings, gardens and common areas must be maintained in good condition and repair. They must not be defective due to dampness or otherwise.
The landlord must ensure that electricity or gas supplies are safe and in good repair, and that every room has adequate ventilation and both natural and artificial lighting.
Laundry, food preparation and food storage
Regulation 7 requires private landlords to provide access to:
- A washing machine
- A clothes-dryer if the dwelling does not have a private garden or yard
They must also provide facilities for cooking and for the hygienic storage of food, to include the following:
- 4-ring hob with oven and grill
- Cooker hood or extractor fan
- Fridge and freezer, or a fridge-freezer
- Microwave oven
- Kitchen cupboards that are suitable and adequate for storing food
- Sink with mains water supply, hot water and draining area
For dwellings rented from local authorities and approved housing bodies, the relevant requirements are in Article 7 of the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 1993. This Article requires the landlord to provide facilities for:
- Installation of cooking equipment with provision, where necessary, for the safe and effective removal of fumes
- Hygienic storage of food
All landlords must provide:
- A sink with hot and cold water
- A separate room, for the exclusive use of each rented unit, with a toilet, a washbasin and a fixed bath or shower with hot and cold water
- A fixed heating appliance in each room, which is capable of providing effective heating and which the tenant can control
- A fire blanket and smoke alarms
- Access to vermin-proof and pest-proof refuse storage facilities
In multi-unit buildings, the landlord must provide each unit with a mains-wired smoke alarm; a fire blanket; and an emergency evacuation plan. There must also be emergency lighting in common areas.
Read more about the minimum standards, including a guide to minimum standards in rented accommodation (pdf). New guidelines will be available shortly, incorporating the extra requirements that came into effect on 1 July 2017.
Extra requirements from July 2017
With effect from 1 July 2017, when the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017 came into force, landlords must ensure that:
- Windows that are located above a certain height are fitted with safety restrictors, in order to prevent falls
- There is a permanently fixed heater in each bathroom/shower room and these heaters are properly ventilated and maintained
- Each dwelling contains, where necessary, carbon monoxide detectors and alarms, which must be suitably located
Damage to your possessions
It is important to note that your landlord's responsibilities (to keep the water pipes, for example, in good repair) do not normally cover you for any damage to your possessions (caused by burst pipes, for example) and the landlord's insurance policy is unlikely to cover your personal belongings.
Several insurance companies provide contents insurance for private tenants.
The housing charity Threshold publishes tips for tenants experiencing issues with flooding and burst pipes.
Inspections and enforcement
Local authorities (in their role as housing authorities) are responsible for enforcing these minimum standards.
If you are renting accommodation under the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme, the local authority will inspect your accommodation within the first 8 months of your tenancy. Local authorities also carry out planned programmes of inspection of rented properties.
If you think that your home does not comply with the standards, you should first bring the problem to your landlord’s attention, whether you are renting from a private landlord, a local authority or a housing association.
If you think your accommodation is sub-standard or your landlord refuses to carry out repairs as required, you can ask the local authority to make the landlord comply with the standards. See 'Where to apply' below.
Failure to comply with the minimum standards can result in penalties and prosecution. Housing authorities can issue Improvement Notices and Prohibition Notices to landlords who breach the minimum standards regulations. An Improvement Notice sets out the works that the landlord must carry out to remedy a breach of the regulations. If the landlord does not do these works, the housing authority may issue a Prohibition Notice, directing the landlord not to re-let the property until the breach of the regulations has been rectified.
You can read more information about disputes between landlords and tenants.
Where to apply
Contact your local authority.