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Last edited 28 Feb 2021
Private-rented sector regulations
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Empty dwelling management orders.
- Home information pack HIP.
- House in multiple occupation.
- Housing Act 1996.
- Housing Act 2004.
- Housing Health and Safety Rating System.
- Local authority.
- Localism Act.
- Planning Act 2008.
- Planning legislation.
- Social housing.
- Statutory instruments.
- Town and Country Planning Act.
 External references
- Housing Act 2004, Legislation.gov.uk
- Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
- The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015: Q&A booklet for the private rented sector – landlords and tenants.
- The Domestic Private Rented Property Minimum Standard, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
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