Standards for rented homes - information for landlords
The Housing Act 2004 and property standards
All homes must be free from deficiencies which may cause a serious risk to their occupants. Local Housing Authorities are responsible for ensuring that properties meet the necessary standards and they use the Housing Act 2004 and its associated powers to ensure that where necessary homes are improved, with most attention being focussed on rented accommodation.
Local councils use the Housing Health and Safety Rating System to assess hazards within the home and decide which ones need to be resolved.
Minimum Energy Efficiency of Rented Homes
All rented homes need to be provided with fixed heating and adequate levels of thermal insulation to achieve a healthy indoor temperature. What is necessary varies from house to house.
The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property)(England and Wales) Regulations 2015 has now established a minimum level of energy efficiency for privately rented property. This means that from 1 April 2018, landlords of privately rented domestic property must ensure that their properties reach at least an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of ‘E’ before granting a new tenancy to new or existing tenants. In other words properties with an ‘F’ or ‘G’ rating shall not be let, unless the landlord can demonstrate that a relevant exemption applies.
These requirements will then apply to all existing private rented properties (even where there has been no change in tenancy arrangements) from 1 April 2020. See further guidance.
Where a landlord believes that an ‘F’ or ‘G’ EPC rated property they rent qualifies for an exemption from the minimum energy efficiency standard, an exemption must be registered on the National Private Rented Sector (PRS) Exemptions Register. The register service is currently running as a pilot. Landlords who wish to register an exemption for a property as part of this pilot should e-mail the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) minimum standards team at PRSregisteraccess@beis.gov.uk.
The landlord handbook
The Landlord Handbook is a helpful guide specifically for landlords and letting agents to assist with the basic information needed to manage rented accommodation.
The "How to Rent" handbook
The "How to Rent" handbook is a government approved guide to renting and letting. Designed with both landlords and tenants in mind, it provides a checklist for renting and explains the rights and responsibilities of both parties. From the 1 February 2016 landlords are obliged to provide an up to date copy of this guide to tenants that are on new and renewed tenancies.
Houses in multiple occupation
To protect occupants safety and comfort specific legal requirements apply to houses in multiple occupation (HMO).
Currently HMO's with 3 or more stories and 5 or more occupants are required to be licensed with the local authority. The government is currently consulting on changes to the HMO licensing regime and may extend this to require any HMO with 5 or more occupants to licence with the local council, irrespective of the number of stories.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detection
From the 1 October 2015 all rented homes should be provided with a smoke detector on each storey where there is living accommodation. Also rented homes that have solid fuel burning appliances must have a carbon monoxide detector in the room where the appliance is situated. Further information is available from your *local housing team* and the Department for Communities and Local Government Q and A Guide.
Fire safety guidance
Find out more information about the fire safety guidelines for various different types of existing housing by downloading our Fire safety guidance document.
Preventing Retaliatory Eviction
Tenants should be free to enquire to the local authority about the condition of their rented home. The government have reinforced this right by limiting a landlord's right to gain possession of their property in certain, specific circumstances. Where a local authority establish that serious health and safety risks exist at a property and subsequent legal action is taken, a landlord will be unable to gain possession of their property for six months. This is designed to protect a tenants security of tenure where they have a genuine complaint about their housing conditions. Further information can be found on Gov.uk.