Minimum standards for rented housing

Introduction

Your landlord has a legal duty to make sure that your home meets certain minimum physical standards.

The minimum standards are set out in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017. In general, the standards apply to dwellings rented from private landlords. Not all standards apply to local authorities and approved housing bodies (usually called housing associations). They do not apply to communal housing being let by the HSE or an approved housing body.

On 1 May 2019, additional requirements for standards for rented accommodation came into effect. These standards are set out in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019. For details, see ‘Additional requirements from May 2019’ below.

Minimum standards

General

For each apartment, flat or house being rented as a separate unit, the landlord must ensure that the rental property is free from damp and in a proper state of structural repair (internally and externally). The Regulations require that roofs, roofing tiles, 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 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 heating that tenants can control, and both natural and artificial lighting.

Laundry, food preparation and food storage

The Regulations require private landlords to provide tenants with 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
  • Suitable and adequate kitchen cupboards for storing food
  • Sink with mains water supply of cold potable water, piped suppy of hot water and draining area

For dwellings rented from local authorities and approved housing bodies, landlords must provide facilities for:

  • The installation of cooking equipment with provision, where necessary, for the safe and effective removal of fumes
  • Suitable and adequate kitchen cupboards for storing food
  • Sink with mains water supply of cold potable water, piped suppy of hot water and draining area

Other requirements

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 suitable fixed heating appliance in each room, which is capable of providing effective heating and which the tenant can control, and adequate facilities for the safe removal of fumes
  • A fire blanket and fire detection and alarm system
  • Access to vermin-proof and pest-proof rubbish storage facilities

The RTB has published a useful guide to the minimum standards for rented properties including the changes introduced by the 2019 Regulations.

Additional requirements from May 2019

With effect from 1 May 2019, a landlord must also ensure that:

  • Information is given to tenants on the property, building services, appliances and their maintenance requirements
  • Efforts are made to prevent infestation of pests and vermin
  • Windows that are located above a certain height are fitted with safety restrictors, in order to prevent falls. Lockable restrictors released only by removable keys or other tools should not be fitted.
  • There is a permanently fixed heater in each bathroom/shower room and these heaters are properly maintained
  • There is a separate room for sanitary facilities (such as a bath) and they must be well ventilated, in good working order and a safe condition
  • Each dwelling contains, where necessary, a carbon monoxide alarm which must be suitably located and maintained

In multi-unit buildings, the landlord must provide each unit with a suitable fire-detection and alarm system, fire blanket, and an emergency evacuation plan. There must also be emergency lighting in common areas.

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 has useful information for tenants experiencing issues with flooding and burst pipes (pdf), and guidance for how to deal with repairs.

Inspections and enforcement

Local authorities (in their role as housing authorities) are responsible for enforcing these minimum standards in rented accommodation.

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 above mimimum 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.

Further information for landlords

The RTB provides information and assistance to the public, tenants and landlords on their rights and responsibilities. The RTB offers free training for landlords through BetterLet: RTB Accredited Landlord training sessions. Landlords must attend a one-day training session to become an accredited BetterLet landlord. The training is designed to make landlords aware of their rights and responsibilities as a landlord, and the rights and responsibilities of tenants. Contact the RTB to find out more about upcoming training sessions.

Where to apply

Contact details for your local authority.


Page edited: 6 March 2020