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Landlords, Get Your House in Order!

New development of apartments

Landlords, Get Your House in Order! New standards for rented residential accommodation came into effect on 1st July 2017 with the introduction of the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017. The Regulations will impose increased obligations on landlords with regard to their rental properties.

Landlords of residential houses, including flats and maisonettes, are already obliged to comply with the minimum standards set out in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2008 – 2009. The existing minimum standards are retained in the 2017 Regulations, but the regulations set new minimum standards in a variety of areas.

The Regulations include for example the following:

a) Structural Condition - The 2017 Regulations will increase the extent of the landlord’s obligation to keep the rented property in a “proper state of structural repair”. The full obligation is to ensure that the property is “sound, internally and externally, with roof, roofing tiles and 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 maintained in good condition and repair and not defective due to dampness or otherwise.”

b) Safety - The 2017 Regulations will introduce specific obligations to install safety restrictors on windows more than 1,400mm above external ground level. Adequate ventilation (specifically including the removal of water vapour from every kitchen and bathroom) is to be provided and maintained.

c) Utilities - Installations for the supply of gas, oil and electricity including pipework, storage facilities and electrical distribution boxes are to be maintained in good repair and safe working order. The 2017 Regulations will require that all houses contain suitably located carbon monoxide alarms.

d) Fire Safety - Under the 2017 Regulations, landlords will be obliged to ensure that suitable self-contained fire detection and alarm systems are provided. The 2017 Regulations will also introduce the requirement to provide suitable fire detection and alarm systems in the common areas of multi-unit buildings, that is, buildings with two or more houses that share a common access.

e) Heat and Lighting Facilities - The obligation to provide effective heating appliances will now apply to all rooms including bathrooms or shower rooms (excluding kitchens having a floor area of less than 6.5 square metres).

f) Sanitary Facilities - Landlords will be obliged to ensure that sanitary facilities are in “a safe condition” in addition to the existing obligation to keep them in good working order.

Failure to comply with the minimum standards can result in penalties and prosecution. Local authorities can issue Improvement Notices and Prohibition Notices to landlords who breach the minimum standards regulations.

Failure to comply with such Notices can result in fines of up to €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or both. A landlord who continues to breach the Regulations after conviction will be guilty of a further offence for every day the breach continues resulting in a fine of up to €400 per day.

Landlords of residential property should seek legal advice in relation to the Regulations, particularly given the consequences of breach.

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