Do nothing option
To "do nothing" option would mean failing to take action to improve the physical condition of private rented housing in Scotland. If action is not taken, it will mean that tenants living in private rented housing will not benefit from the all the condition elements currently required in social housing or the additional safety elements as identified by the CHQS Forum.
The CHQS Forum identified a number of options aimed at improving conditions in both rented and privately owned houses. It is considered wise that this should be approached in stages with this consultation covering issues affecting private rented housing and a second consultation, later this year, looking at standards affecting housing generally - this is likely to consider issues such as difficulties faced by those living in mixed tenure blocks.
In this consultation we will consider and seek views on proposals for changes to the repairing standard to -
- include some elements that currently only apply to social housing,
- consider some additional safety elements which were identified by the Forum,
- seek views on whether the repairing standard should apply to agricultural tenancies and some other kinds of lets, and
- look at issues about costs, timing and enforcement
Future engagement with the social rented sector will develop changes to the SHQS to better align the requirements of the two standards.
There will be a second consultation later in 2017 on condition issues affecting housing generally.
Sectors and groups affected
Making changes to the repairing standard which applies to all privately let properties will directly affect all private sector landlords and their tenants. It is also likely to impact on local businesses
- Private landlords will be obliged to take steps to ensure compliance with any new elements added to the Repairing Standard.
- Tenants living in private rented accommodation will benefit from living in homes which have been improved to meet with new elements which go beyond the current standard.
- Local businesses will benefit as they are likely to be contracted to carry out the required works associated with improving house condition. This could include job opportunities.
Steps taken in this first phase will also lead the way for proposals for changes to the SHQS and in the longer term, the wider housing sector. It will initiate change in the private rented sector and start to address at least some issues of disrepair in mixed tenure tenements.
It is proposed that the repairing standard should be extended to include a requirement that all private let properties meet the tolerable standard which is a condemnatory standard, all houses that are below the tolerable standard are unfit for human habitation and should not be used for living accommodation. Local authorities have a general duty to ensure that all houses used as living accommodation in their area meet the tolerable standard. However there is no specific requirement in the repairing standard for landlords to ensure that private rented housing meets the tolerable standard. The most recent estimate in 2015 is that 5% of private rented homes were below the tolerable standard, but these may not be being used as living accommodation. Making the tolerable standard part of the repairing standard would help ensure that houses for private rent meet the most basic threshold of fitness for human habitation. This would empower tenants to apply for assistance to the First-Tier Tribunal (Housing and Property Chamber).
Views are invited on the tolerable standard being included in the repairing standard and other possible changes to the repairing standard relating to -
- Safe kitchens
- Food storage
- Central heating
- Lead free pipes
- Safe access to common facilities
- Safe and secure common doors
- Thermostatic mixing valves
- Residual current devices
- Asbestos surveys
- Private water supply risk assessment
- Capacity for fridges and freezers
- Safe oil systems
- Sound insulation
By taking steps to include some or all of these elements in the repairing standard, the private rented housing stock will improve over time to the benefit of tenants who will experience improved living conditions and landlords who will be taking steps to safeguard investment in their properties.
Estimated costs relating to changes to the repairing standard
The following table is an estimate of the financial impact of the elements of rented housing standards on which we seek views in this part of the consultation. It should be stressed that these are very rough estimates and actual costs are likely to vary. It does, however, help to suggest where the cost impact is likely to be highest. The timeframe is the lead-in time to allow landlords to spread the costs and include work in planned maintenance and improvements. There were an estimated 350,000 private rented homes in Scotland as at September 2016. The actual cost would vary between properties, with no cost to homes that already meet the standard.
|New Measure||Estimated cost per property (£)||Estimate of stock not currently covered||Timeframe (years)||Annual cost to Private Landlords (£m)|
|Lead free pipes||1,000||4%||5||2.8|
|Safe access to common facilities||500||5%||10||0.88|
|safe and secure common doors||50||25%||5||0.88|
|Thermostatic mixing valves||100||75%||12||2.2|
|Residual current devices||200||50%||5||7.0|
|PWS risk assessment||200||4%||5||0.56|
|Capacity for fridges/ freezers||200||2%||10||0.14|
|Safe oil systems||100||2%||5||0.14|
We think that the changes proposed in this part of the consultation reflect the existing best practice of many landlords and that the associated costs are relatively low, in comparison to on-going liabilities for repairs and maintenance, provided that sufficient lead in time is allowed for landlords to build improvements into scheduled maintenance and investment in property. Our intention is to engage with stakeholders where there is support for new standards to agree a reasonable lead-in period for changes to come into force. It may be appropriate to have different timescales for different elements, provided that this is not unduly complex
The chart shows how these costs might be spread if the changes to standards were introduced from 2020. This would be different if elements were introduced at different times or if timescales for elements were changed - so that costs could be spread over a longer period and the annual impact reduced.
Email: Agnes Meany