Minimum standards for rented housing

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With the ever-increasing demand for rental properties in the UK, rental properties are a long-term investment that can offer landlords an excellent source of passive income. With a buy-to-let mortgage, you can easily apply to obtain the funds you need to purchase a rental property.

Before you can start searching for tenants for your rental property, you need to ensure the property meets the minimum standards for rented housing in the UK.

The UK government has set out minimum standards that rental properties must meet to ensure that they are fit for human habitation. As a landlord or property investor, it is your legal and ethical responsibility to provide safe and healthy living conditions for your tenants. Failing to meet these standards can result in legal action, loss of rental income, and damage to your reputation.

Whether you are a seasoned landlord or a first-time rental property investor, this guide will provide you with valuable insights into ensuring that your rental properties meet the required standards.

The content in this article is for information purposes only. It is not legal or professional advice on your obligations and you must seek appropriate advice from qualified experts if you are unclear on your position.

What are housing standards?

Housing standards are the minimum requirements set by the UK government for rental properties, to ensure that they are a safe and healthy environment for tenants to live in. These standards include requirements for structural repair, fire safety equipment, gas and electrical safety, and energy efficiency. Landlords are legally required to meet these housing standards.

Why is it important to meet the minimum standards for rented housing?

According to Gavin Smart, Chief Executive at Chartered Institute of Housing, “All renters should be able to live in decent, well-maintained homes.” While the majority of private landlords provide rental properties that meet high standards, there are still a large amount of privately rented homes in poor conditions.

Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, landlords are legally required to meet the minimum housing standards. This means ensuring that rental properties are in a good state of repair and free from hazards. Failure to comply can result in legal action, fines, and potential imprisonment.

We have highlighted the additional reasons why landlords must meet the minimum standards for rented housing UK:

  1. Ethical responsibility: Landlords have a duty of care to protect the health and safety of tenants. This means ensuring that rental properties meet the minimum housing standards.
  2. Attract quality tenants: Rental properties that meet the required standards are more likely to be occupied by tenants who are willing to pay a fair rent and take good care of the property. This leads to a stable rental income and reduced void periods.
  3. Protect reputation: Meeting the minimum housing standards can also help to protect a landlord’s reputation. Providing substandard rental properties can lead to negative reviews and word-of-mouth publicity, which can harm make it difficult to attract tenants in the future.

Key minimum standards for rented housing

We have highlighted the key minimum standards for rented housing in the UK which require your rental property to be:

Structurally sound

The interior and exterior of the rental property should be in good structural condition to ensure the safety and well-being of tenants.

The property should be free from large cracks in the walls, damaged roof tiles or gutters, compromised foundations, or any other structural damage that could cause harm to tenants or visitors. Landlords should also ensure adequate ventilation to prevent dampness, which can affect the structural integrity of a rental property.

Making the necessary structural repairs to your rental property is easy with Commercial Trust. Bridging loans for improvements can be used for light or heavy refurbishment projects. We will help you save time and money by sourcing the best bridging loan from our extensive range of lenders.

Free from hazards

Landlords are responsible for ensuring that the rental property is free from hazards that could pose a risk to the health and safety of tenants.

Common life-threatening hazards include exposed wiring and faulty gas or electrical appliances. Slippery floors, uneven stairs, and inadequate lighting are other potential safety hazards. Dampness and mould also pose severe health risks to tenants.

Equipped with fire safety apparatus

It is the responsibility of the landlord to provide and maintain fire safety equipment in the property.

Fire safety equipment includes smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and fire blankets. This equipment is designed to detect smoke or fires and provide tenants with the means to extinguish a fire. These should be regularly checked to ensure they are in good working order.

It is also essential to ensure that tenants are aware of the fire safety equipment in the rental property and how to use them in case of an emergency. Landlords should provide tenants with instructions on how to use fire safety equipment and make sure that they know how to evacuate the property in case of a fire.

Fire safety is especially important if you have an HMO rental property. With more occupants in the property, there is a higher risk of fire safety hazards. Ensuring that your HMO property is equipped with appropriate fire safety measures is a legal requirement.

Looking to add an HMO property to your portfolio? Commercial Trust will find you an HMO mortgage to secure the funds you need to purchase an HMO property. Find out more about HMO mortgages in our HMO guide.

Gas and electric supply should be safe and in working order

Landlords must ensure that the gas and electrical supply in a rental property is safe and in working order for the health and safety of tenants.

It is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure the gas and electrical supply is regularly maintained and checked for safety. Landlords are required to have all electrical installations checked by an accredited inspector every 5 years. All gas appliances need to be serviced annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

As the landlord, you must supply a copy of the gas safety check to a prospective tenant before they move in to your property, or within 28 days of a check for existing tenants.

Rented property must meet energy efficient standards

The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) were introduced in 2018 to ensure all landlords increase the energy efficiency of their rental properties.

Landlords are legally required to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for their rental properties and meet an energy efficiency standard of an EPC rating of E or higher. To improve the energy efficiency standards of the property, landlords may need to improve insulation, install double glazing, and invest in low-energy lighting.

Stricter MEES were due to be introduced in a revised Bill on the subject, but in an unexpected move, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak scrapped the plans.

Consequences of not meeting the minimum standards for a rental property

Failing to meet the minimum standards for rented housing UK can have severe consequences for landlords.

If a landlord fails to meet the standards, tenants have the legal right to take action against them. This can result in hefty fines and legal costs.

Failing to meet the minimum housing standards can also damage the reputation of the landlord or property investor. Negative reviews or publicity can harm the landlord's reputation and make it difficult to attract tenants in the future, leading to a loss in income.

In extreme cases, failure to meet the minimum standards can even lead to imprisonment. For example, if a tenant is injured or dies due to a landlord's failure to meet the minimum standards, the landlord can be charged, which can result in a custodial sentence.

By ensuring that the rental property meets the minimum standards, landlords can protect their tenants, maintain the value of their property, and avoid legal action and reputational damage.

Landlords responsibilities

Based on the minimum standards for rented housing UK, landlord responsibilities also include managing:

Damp and mould

Landlords are responsible for ensuring a rental property is free from damp and mould, which can pose a range of health risks to tenants, including respiratory problems, allergies, and asthma. It is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that the property is regularly maintained and repaired to prevent dampness and adequate ventilation to prevent condensation.

Repairs

Landlord responsibilities include ensuring that a rental property is in good repair and is free from hazards. This includes regular maintenance and checks to ensure the property is in a habitable condition.

If tenants raise any issues, landlords should ensure repairs are performed promptly to prevent them from becoming more severe and causing further damage.

Insulation and central heating

Landlords have a legal responsibility to ensure that their rental properties meet the minimum energy efficiency standards set by the UK government's MEES.

To meet the energy efficiency standards, landlords must provide adequate insulation and double glazing in the rental property to prevent heat loss.

The central heating system must also be in good working order to ensure that the rental property can be kept warm during cold weather.

Providing adequate insulation and central heating can also help to prevent dampness and mould growth in the rental property.