Last edited 08 Oct 2019

Private-rented sector regulations

Contents

[edit] Introduction

Shortages in the supply of land, the low rate of housebuilding over the past few decades and a burgeoning urban population have all created pressures on the availability of affordable housing. This has led to more people being unable to buy their homes and as a consequence a rise in the demand for domestic private rental property.

As the demand for private rented property has grown, so too has government regulation of the Private Rented Sector (PRS).

[edit] Regulations

Introduced by the Housing Act 1988 (with a remit broadened by the Housing Act 1996), the Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) is the most common type of letting agreement for a private domestic property in England and Wales.

Other tenancies that are less common than ASTs include; excluded tenancies or licences, assured tenancies and regulated tenancies

[edit] Housing Act 2004

The Housing act 2004 aims to enforce general housing standards and includes sections on improvement notices relating to hazards and hazard awareness (eg fire and health and safety), emergency orders, demolition orders and slum clearance declarations, licensing of housing in multiple occupation, overcrowding notices and tenancy deposit schemes. For more information see Housing Act 2004. Some of its provisions are listed under the headings below.

[edit] Health and safety

The main provisions relate to gas and electrical safety:

Gas

Under the 2004 Act, landlords must ensure gas equipment they provide is safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe engineer, checked annually and a gas safety certificate obtained and kept for records.

Electrical safety

Landlords must ensure electrical systems (sockets and light fittings) and appliances (cookers and kettles) are safe.

Fire safety

It is a landlord’s responsibility to fit and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. Landlords must comply with the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 which aim to ensure that private sector tenants are safe in their homes.

The regulation recognises that in the event of a fire, the likelihood of people dying is four times greater if there is no smoke alarm. From October 1 2015, private-sector landlords are required to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their properties and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel-burning appliance (eg a coal fire, wood-burning stove). Landlords must make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy. They must also ensure clear access to escape routes and that the furniture and furnishings they supply are fire safe.

Fire requirements also exist in other legislation such as under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

[edit] Energy efficiency

The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015, amended by the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (Amendment) (England and Wales) Regulations 2019, set out the minimum level of energy efficiency for private rented property in England and Wales. The regulations are designed to tackle the least energy-efficient properties – those rated F or G on their Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

The Regulations aim to establish more thermally efficient homes for vulnerable and fuel-poor tenants, giving them a better living environment and lower energy bills. Although newly-built homes in the private rented sector (PRS) tend to have higher energy-efficiency ratings than the average, there remains a stock of older, often pre-1919 properties, which are less efficient and are difficult and costly to heat. These less efficient properties result in higher tenant energy bills, and for many, the likelihood of living in fuel poverty.

EPC F- and G-rated properties are the most energy inefficient of the housing stock. The regulations establish a minimum standard of EPC band E for both domestic and non-domestic private rented property, and affect new tenancies and renewals since 01 April 2018.

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[edit] External references