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Publication - Research Publication

Energy efficiency and condition standards in private rented housing: consultation analysis

Published: 14 Nov 2017
Part of:
Housing, Research
ISBN:
9781788513906

This report presents an analysis of responses to the consultation on energy efficiency and condition standards in private rented housing.

147 page PDF

1.2MB

147 page PDF

1.2MB

Contents
Energy efficiency and condition standards in private rented housing: consultation analysis
Proposals for changes to the repairing standard

147 page PDF

1.2MB

Proposals for changes to the repairing standard

The tolerable standard is the basic minimum standard for all housing in Scotland. It is a condemnatory standard - any house that is below tolerable standard ( BTS) is not acceptable as living accommodation. Few houses fall below this standard - the most recent estimate is 5% of private rented homes were BTS in 2015, and these should not be being used for living accommodation. The repairing standard does not include the tolerable standard, although there is a considerable degree of overlap with elements that are required. The proposal is that the tolerable standard should be made a part of the repairing standard so that it is clear that a private landlord should ensure that a house for rent must meet the most basic threshold of fitness for human habitation and to provide tenants with a right to apply for assistance to the First-Tier Tribunal (Housing and Property Chamber).

Question 2.1 - Do you think that ensuring a house complies with the tolerable standard should be part of a private landlord's duties under the repairing standard? Please explain your answer.

Table 24: Question 2.1 – Responses by type of respondent

Type of respondent Yes No Don't know Not answered Total
Organisations:
Energy-related private sector 1   4 5
Landlord 17 1 1 9 28
Letting agents etc. 9 1   2 12
Local Authority 22     22
Other 2 2 4
Professional body 12 14 26
Third sector 6 5 11
Total organisations 69 2 1 36 108
% of organisations answering 96% 3% 1% 100%
Individuals 63 10 6 11 90
% of individuals answering 80% 13% 8% 100%
All respondents 132 12 7 47 198
% of all respondents 67% 6% 4% 24% 100%
% of all those answering 87% 8% 5% 100%

A majority of respondents, 87% of those answering the question, thought that ensuring a house complies with the tolerable standard should be part of a private landlord's duties under the repairing standard. A very substantial majority of organisational respondents agreed - 96% of those answering the question.

There were around 90 further comments at Question 2.1. A small number of these were general observations or statements on condition standards in the PRS. Points raised included that:

  • There is a danger that the Scottish Government has lost sight of the purpose of the repairing standard. It is not clear how many of the proposals, such as food storage, relate to disrepair and property condition.
  • With so many timescales it is unclear what needs to be done and by when. Some of the timescales are also inappropriate for many properties. It can also be argued that if Scottish Government is happy to wait 5, 10 or 12 years for these elements then they cannot be considered critical to the habitability of homes.
  • As with the proposed energy efficiency standards, the cumulative effect and additional cost burden of the proposals could impact business viability in some cases and might mean some landlords of generally acceptable properties consider exiting the sector.

Some of the comments which were specific to the question, and particularly those made by respondents who had agreed, were brief and simply stated that they agreed, and that any property should meet a safe, habitable standard if it is to be let. It was also suggested that a single, clear standard would be the preferred and most straightforward option, or that if there are two standards and they are not aligned, then the "higher" standard should apply.

A number of respondents, including those who had agreed and disagreed suggested that a property that meets the conditions of the repairing standard should in any case comply with the tolerable standard and vice versa, particularly if many of the additional measures proposed in this consultation are introduced. It was also suggested that many of the elements listed under the repairing standard, for example in relation to asbestos or water quality, are already a requirement.

Other comments, in each case made by a small number of those who had agreed, included:

  • Minimum energy efficiency standards should form part of the repairing standard.
  • If communal work is required or work which impacts on common areas this should only be done if carried out co-operatively with all owners.
  • Landlords should be given sufficient time to make any changes required.
  • Meeting the standard should be a requirement for an agent to take on a property.

There were also a small number of comments about enforcing the standard(s). They included:

  • Local authorities should still have the power to close properties which do not meet the tolerable standard.

• More effective enforcement of current standards by local authorities would be welcome. Also, further detail and clarification as to how the repairing standard would be enforced was sought.

Question 2.2 - Do you think that private rented housing should meet a minimum standard for safe kitchens?

Table 25: Question 2.2 – Responses by type of respondent

Type of respondent Yes No Don't know Not answered Total
Organisations:
Energy-related private sector 1   4 5
Landlord 11 6 2 9 28
Letting agents etc. 6 4   2 12
Local Authority 20 1 1 22
Other 1   3 4
Professional body 10 1 1 14 26
Third sector 3   8 11
Total organisations 52 12 3 41 108
% of organisations answering 78% 18% 4% 100%
Individuals 58 18 3 11 90
% of individuals answering 73% 23% 4% 100%
All respondents 110 30 6 52 198
% of all respondents 56% 15% 3% 26% 100%
% of all those answering 75% 21% 4% 100%

A majority of respondents, 75% of those answering the question, thought that private rented housing should meet a minimum standard for safe kitchens.

Although there was no specific opportunity to comment, one point was raised at another question. This was that it is arguable that the requirement in the tolerable standard for "satisfactory facilities for the cooking of food within the house" is the same thing worded differently.

Question 2.3 - If this is introduced, what exceptions (if any) do you think would be needed?

There were around 100 comments at Question 2.3. Of these, around 1 in 10 respondents stated that the standard should not be introduced. Others, around 1 in 6, suggested there should be no exceptions. Further comments included that the tolerable standard is a basic level measuring satisfactory housing, and the bar should not be allowed to go any lower in the PRS.

Further comments, made primarily by those who disagreed with there being a minimum standard, included:

  • Further details on the proposals are required, including evidence around the age, condition and size of properties in the PRS. It was suggested that the Scottish Government should provide evidence that such measures are necessary.
  • The definitions provided need to be clarified and extended and any subjectivity needs to be eliminated. Checks are required around how any proposals would interact with other legislation, for example that governing electrical safety.
  • A one-size-fits-all approach is likely to be problematic, particularly for landlords with older properties.
  • The Scottish Government would need to introduce minimum building standards to all new private housing, and anything which pre-dates the introduction of this standard would not need to comply.

Otherwise, both those who had agreed and those who disagreed suggested possible exceptions. These sometimes referred to types of properties which should be excepted, with suggestions including:

  • Older, traditional properties, including tenement flats and/or those with galley or compact kitchens.
  • Where the space or layout mean it is not possible to comply, or complying would incur significant cost and/or require major works. It was suggested that an exception for older buildings needing major structural work would mean that a large number of properties would be excepted.
  • Properties built before 1920.
  • Listed buildings or properties in a conservation area.
  • Student flats with integral kitchens.
  • Bedsits or one-bedroom flats, in particular those with single or dual occupancy or where there are no children living in the property.
  • Properties which are let unfurnished, including without white goods.
  • Where the tenant has provided the kitchen or parts of the kitchen.

Other comments made about possible exceptions included that:

  • The requirement should only apply when the kitchen is being replaced.
  • While exceptions may be required, they should extend to only a very small number of properties. Specifically, exceptions should not be allowed where the landlord has remodelled the property.
  • Any exceptions must be laid out in a clear, concise format that is easily understood by all landlords.
  • The onus should be on a landlord to demonstrate that their property would meet any test for exemption.
  • Consideration should be given to consistency with Building Standards Regulations and the Scottish Housing Quality Standard.

Question 2.4 - Do you think that private rented housing should have a minimum standard for food storage space?

Table 26: Question 2.4 – Responses by type of respondent

Type of respondent Yes No Don't know Not answered Total
Organisations:
Energy-related private sector 1   4 5
Landlord 7 8 4 9 28
Letting agents etc. 3 6 1 2 12
Local Authority 18 4   22
Other 1   3 4
Professional body 6 5 1 14 26
Third sector 2 1   8 11
Total organisations 38 24 6 40 108
% of organisations answering 56% 35% 9% 100%
Individuals 26 47 6 11 90
% of individuals answering 33% 59% 8% 100%
All respondents 64 71 12 51 198
% of all respondents 32% 36% 6% 26% 100%
% of all those answering 44% 48% 8% 100%

Views were mixed at this question although the largest proportion of respondents, 48% of those answering the question, thought that private rented housing should not have a minimum standard for food storage space. Of the remaining respondents, 44% thought there should be a minimum standard and 8% did not know. A majority of individual respondents (59% of those answering the question), thought there should not be a minimum standard while a majority of organisational respondents (56% of those answering the question), thought there should. However, slightly more landlord and letting agent respondents thought there should not be a standard than thought there should.

Although there was no specific opportunity to comment, one point raised at another question was that this approach would require developing a robust definition of 'food storage space' but that this would be likely to be a complex and expensive exercise.

Question 2.5 - If this is introduced, what exceptions (if any) do you think would be needed?

A number of respondents simply referred back to comments they had made at Question 2.3. A number of others had disagreed at Question 2.4 and restated that opposition. Other comments made by those who disagreed with the introduction of a minimum standard included:

  • All properties are different and some properties and kitchens are small. It may not be possible or cost effective to meet any standard and this could result in properties being withdrawn from the private rented market.
  • The Scottish Government should provide evidence that such measures are necessary before implementing burdensome changes to the repairing standard.
  • It should be left to the prospective tenant to judge whether the storage facilities are sufficient for their needs. If they are not, they simply would not choose to rent the property.
  • This is not a priority for many tenants and does not warrant a change to the repairing standard.
  • The Scottish Government would need to introduce minimum building standards to all new private housing, and anything which predates the introduction of this standard would not need to comply.

A number of those who agreed with there being a minimum standard thought that there should be no exceptions.

Those who did think there should be exceptions sometimes suggested that these should be based on the reasonableness of adaptations being made to the property. In particular, it was suggested that physical constraints in terms of the structure or layout may mean any requirement cannot be met. Around 1 in 6 of those commenting at this question raised this concern. Excessive cost was also considered to be a consideration for a small number of respondents. A small number of others noted their agreement with the suggestions set out in the consultation paper.

Otherwise, both those who had agreed and those who disagreed suggested possible exceptions. These referred to types of properties which should be excepted, with suggestions including:

  • Bedsits and one-bedroom flats.
  • Some converted tenements.
  • Listed buildings or buildings in conservation areas.
  • Properties built before 1920.

Finally, it was suggested that any standard should take account of the size of the property and the number of expected inhabitants.

Question 2.6 - Do you think that private rented housing should have a fixed heating system?

Table 27: Question 2.6 – Responses by type of respondent

Type of respondent Yes No Don't know Not answered Total
Organisations:
Energy-related private sector 2   3 5
Landlord 6 12   10 28
Letting agents etc. 6 4 2 12
Local Authority 18 1 3   22
Other 1   3 4
Professional body 6 3 1 16 26
Third sector 4 1   6 11
Total organisations 43 21 4 40 108
% of organisations answering 63% 31% 6% 100%
Individuals 38 38 3 11 90
% of individuals answering 48% 48% 4% 100%
All respondents 81 59 7 51 198
% of all respondents 41% 30% 4% 26% 100%
% of all those answering 55% 40% 5% 100%

A small majority, 55% of those answering the question, thought that private rented housing should have a fixed heating system. A majority of organisational respondents thought it should (63% of those answering the question), although the majority of landlord respondents thought it should not. Individual respondents were evenly divided on this issue, with 48% of those answering the question thinking it should, and 48% thinking it should not.

Question 2.7 - If this is introduced, what exceptions (if any) do you think would be needed?

There were around 90 comments at Question 2.7. A number of respondents used Question 2.7 to explain their reasons for disagreeing with the requirement for a fixed heating system. Specific points made included:

  • There is no need for a separate item since the heating system and the efficiency of the system will be reflected in the minimum standards for energy efficiency which are being introduced for the repairing standard.
  • Care is needed to avoid duplication and potential conflict between legislation relating to the tolerable standard and repairing standard, and energy efficiency proposals set out in Part One of the consultation.
  • The proposals do not include sufficient detail on the definition of a 'fixed heating system'.
  • Requiring properties to have a fixed heating system will remove choice for tenants.
  • Installation of a fixed heating system may not be possible in some circumstances.
  • Installation of a fixed heating system does not necessarily deliver an improvement in energy efficiency, and modern portable appliances may be more cost-effective in some circumstances.
  • The cost of compliance could be prohibitive for some landlords, particularly for those with older properties. The requirement may cause some landlords to withdraw their properties from the sector rather than undertake the required works.

Amongst those who agreed with the requirement for a fixed heating system, some thought that no exceptions should be permitted. Associated comments included that all properties should have an effective heating system and a suggestion that installation of a fixed heating system should be feasible for any property that meets the tolerable standard.

A number of those who agreed with the requirement for fixed heating systems, and some of those who disagreed, suggested exceptions which would be needed. Specific exceptions suggested by respondents were:

  • Highly energy efficient properties where it can be demonstrated that they have a satisfactory heating system. It was suggested that compliance with the EPC standard could form the basis for this exception, for example properties with an EPC rating above a minimum threshold (suggestions including C or D) or specific design examples such as Passivhaus.
  • Properties where there are physical or technical difficulties around installation of a fixed heating system, and/or where installation of a fixed system is not economically feasible. Respondents suggested specific factors such as property age ( e.g. pre-1920 build dates) or being a listed building or in a conservation area. Barriers to accessing fuel for a fixed heating system, where an increase on the load on private cables would be required and smaller properties where the proposed heating electrical loading is limited were also suggested.
  • Where the tenant is satisfied with the existing heating system and/or declines the option of a fixed system.
  • Based on Houses in Multiple Occupation ( HMO) requirements for heating systems to be capable of maintaining a minimum temperature based on minimum outdoor air temperatures.
  • Properties let out on a repairing agreement.

A small number of respondents also suggested there needs to be a clear definition of 'fixed heating system', and this definition needs to be sufficiently flexible to allow for future innovation. A specific suggestion was that the definition of a fixed heating system should allow for solid fuel stoves.

Question 2.8 - Do you think that private rented housing should be free of lead pipes from the boundary stopcock to the kitchen tap?

Table 28: Question 2.8 – Responses by type of respondent

Type of respondent Yes No Don't know Not answered Total
Organisations:
Energy-related private sector 1   4 5
Landlord 12 5 2 9 28
Letting agents etc. 5 5   2 12
Local Authority 21   1   22
Other 1   3 4
Professional body 8 2 1 15 26
Third sector 3     8 11
Total organisations 51 12 4 41 108
% of organisations answering 76% 18% 6% 100%
Individuals 53 16 7 14 90
% of individuals answering 70% 21% 9% 100%
All respondents 104 28 11 55 198
% of all respondents 53% 14% 6% 28% 100%
% of all those answering 73% 20% 8% 100%

A majority of respondents, 73% of those answering the question, thought that private rented housing should be free of lead pipes from the boundary stopcock to the kitchen tap.

Although there was no specific opportunity to comment, a small number of comments were made at other questions. A respondent who had disagreed suggested that the amount of lead absorbed by the water in the pipe between the boundary stopcock and the kitchen is minimal but the work required to replace this section of pipework would often be very extensive. They felt it is not reasonable to expect landlords to carry out major works and that this provision should not be introduced unless there is evidence that a significant number of PRS properties have a high lead content in the drinking water. Other comments included that regular water tests offer a better and sufficient approach.

Question 2.9 - If it is not possible to establish whether or not there are any lead pipes from the boundary stopcock to the kitchen tap, do you think a water quality test should be carried out before the tenancy commences?

Table 29: Question 2.9 – Responses by type of respondent

Type of respondent Yes No Don't know Not answered Total
Organisations:
Energy-related private sector 1   4 5
Landlord 8 8 2 10 28
Letting agents etc. 3 5 2 2 12
Local Authority 19 2 1   22
Other 1   3 4
Professional body 4 2 3 17 26
Third sector 3   8 11
Total organisations 39 17 8 44 108
% of organisations answering 61% 27% 13% 100%
Individuals 38 33 5 14 90
% of individuals answering 50% 43% 7% 100%
All respondents 77 50 13 58 198
% of all respondents 39% 25% 7% 29% 100%
% of all those answering 55% 36% 9% 100%

A small majority of respondents, 55% of those answering the question, thought that, if it is not possible to establish whether or not there are any lead pipes from the boundary stopcock to the kitchen tap, a water quality test should be carried out before the tenancy commences. Although the majority of organisational respondents agreed (61% of those answering the question), landlord respondents were evenly divided and more letting agent respondents disagreed than agreed.

Although there was no specific opportunity to comment, a small number of comments were made at other questions, all by respondents who did not think a water test should be required before a tenancy commences. Reasons were similar to points raised at the previous question and included:

  • The amount of lead absorbed by the water in the pipe between the boundary stopcock and the kitchen is minimal.
  • No statistics have been given on the extent of the problem of lead content in kitchen drinking water in order to justify the introduction of this requirement.
  • As water is tested regularly on private supplies this test should suffice.
  • Start of tenancy checks would be an unreasonable cost. A water test being required every 10 years would be a more reasonable alternative.

Question 2.10 - Do you think that private rented housing should meet a minimum standard for (a) safe access and (b) safe use of common facilities provided with the tenancy?

Table 29: Question 2.10 – Responses by type of respondent

Type of respondent Yes No Don't know Not answered Total
Organisations:
Energy-related private sector 1   4 5
Landlord 11 4 3 10 28
Letting agents etc. 6 3 1 2 12
Local Authority 20   2   22
Other 1   3 4
Professional body 9 3 14 26
Third sector 2   1 8 11
Total organisations 50 10 7 41 108
% of organisations answering 75% 15% 10% 100%
Individuals 53 19 3 15 90
% of individuals answering 71% 25% 4% 100%
All respondents 103 29 10 56 198
% of all respondents 52% 15% 5% 28% 100%
% of all those answering 73% 20% 7% 100%

A majority of respondents, 73% of those answering the question, thought that private rented housing should meet a minimum standard for (a) safe access and (b) safe use of common facilities provided with the tenancy.

Although there was no specific opportunity to comment, a small number of comments were made at other questions. They included that:

  • The consultation document does not set out any evidence that this is a problem that needs tackling.
  • The tolerable standard includes "satisfactory access to all external doors and outbuildings". This could be extended to include all common areas.

Question 2.11 - If this is introduced, what exceptions (if any) do you think would be needed?

There were around 70 comments at Question 2.11. A majority of those providing comment had agreed at Question 2.10 with proposals for private rented housing to meet a minimum standard for safe access and safe use of common facilities, but some had disagreed and explained their reasons. Points made by these respondents included:

  • The proposals are disproportionate and impose excessive regulation on the sector. This could discourage landlords from entering or remaining in the sector.
  • The Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 - sections 13 (1)(b) and 15 (1) – already places a duty on landlords to maintain common elements.
  • Landlords may not have full control over common facilities in some circumstances and might not be in a position to carry out the proposed requirements.
  • Major works may be required to meet the proposed requirements, for example in relation to removing all lead from common piping.
  • Water quality should be ensured by legislation relating to environmental health, rather than placing a requirement on landlords.

A number of those who agreed with there being minimum standards stated that no exceptions should be permitted. Further comments included that safe access and use of common facilities are significant elements of a tenancy and should not be subject to exceptions, and that private tenants should be afforded the same rights provided to social tenants by the Scottish Housing Quality Standard. It was also suggested that any exceptions that are permitted should place an onus on landlords to demonstrate clear grounds for them being required.

Other comments included that any requirements need to take account of the significant variety of property types and arrangements in relation to common facilities. It was also suggested that exceptions should be consistent with provisions set out in the Scottish Housing Quality Standard, and that consideration should be given to an approach to cases where common facilities are shared with owner-occupied properties to which minimum standards would not apply. It was suggested that meeting any requirements may present significant challenges if there are disputes between responsible parties, and that local authorities may have a role in these circumstances. It was also suggested that a clear definition is required of what is 'safe' in relation to access and use of common facilities.

Specific exceptions suggested included:

  • Where landlords do not have full control over common facilities, particularly in mixed tenure blocks. This would include cases where other parties refuse to undertake necessary works to ensure safe access to and use of common facilities, and landlords are able to demonstrate this.
  • Properties where it is impractical for landlords to meet requirements, for example properties with unusual arrangements in relation to common parts such as those in rural areas, properties sharing access with working farms, properties in multi-storey blocks, older property types, and historic or listed buildings. This could include where the cost of compliance is prohibitive.
  • Where common repairing rights prohibit landlords from meeting the requirement.
  • Where communal or on-street bins are provided by the local authority.

Question 2.12 - Do you think that private rented housing should meet a minimum standard for safe and secure common doors?

Table 30: Question 2.12 – Responses by type of respondent

Type of respondent Yes No Don't know Not answered Total
Organisations:
Energy-related private sector 1   4 5
Landlord 10 3 4 11 28
Letting agents etc. 7 2 1 2 12
Local Authority 19 1 1 1 22
Other 1   3 4
Professional body 11 2   13 26
Third sector 3   8 11
Total organisations 52 8 6 42 108
% of organisations answering 79% 12% 9% 100%
Individuals 48 19 9 14 90
% of individuals answering 63% 25% 12% 100%
All respondents 100 27 15 56 198
% of all respondents 51% 14% 8% 28% 100%
% of all those answering 70% 19% 11% 100%

A majority of respondents, 70% of those answering the question, thought that private rented housing should meet a minimum standard for safe and secure common doors. Organisational respondents were more likely to agree than individual respondents (79% and 63% of those answering respectively).

Although there was no specific opportunity to comment, a small number of comments were made at other questions.

A respondent who had agreed thought that, where this requires communal works to be carried out which require the consent of other owners, the landlord should not have to proceed unless all other owners agree or unless the local authority is willing to exercise its powers to pay the missing shares for non-consenting owners. Another made their support conditional on there being a long enough lead-in time for regulations.

Question 2.13 - Do you think that baths and bidets in private rented housing should be fitted with thermostatic mixing valves (or similar measures)?

Table 31: Question 2.13 – Responses by type of respondent

Type of respondent Yes No Don't know Not answered Total
Organisations:
Energy-related private sector 1   4 5
Landlord 2 14 2 10 28
Letting agents etc.   8 2 2 12
Local Authority 9 8 5   22
Other 1   3 4
Professional body 5 5 2 14 26
Third sector 2   1 8 11
Total organisations 20 35 12 41 108
% of organisations answering 30% 52% 18% 100%
Individuals 16 61 2 11 90
% of individuals answering 20% 77% 3% 100%
All respondents 36 96 14 52 198
% of all respondents 18% 48% 7% 26% 100%
% of all those answering 25% 66% 10% 100%

A majority of respondents, 66% of those answering the question, did not think that baths and bidets in private rented housing should be fitted with thermostatic mixing valves (or similar measures). Among the organisational respondents, letting agent and landlord respondents were particularly likely to disagree. Local authority respondents were the only group in which a majority agreed, with professional body respondents evenly divided.

Although there was no specific opportunity to comment, a small number of comments were made at other questions.

A respondent who had disagreed suggested this measure is not necessary as it is almost always possible to control the water temperature centrally at the boiler or immersion heater. They also suggested that no statistics have been given in the consultation on the extent of the problem of scalding in the PRS in order to justify the introduction of this requirement.

A respondent who had agreed cautioned that in some cases thermostatic mixing valves may be inappropriate for a tenant, for example if a physical impairment makes them difficult to use. They suggested that in such a case this should be documented in the assessment report and accounted for when evaluating whether or not the property has met the standard.

Question 2.14 - Do you think that electrical installations in private rented housing should be fitted with residual current devices?

Table 32: Question 2.14 – Responses by type of respondent

Type of respondent Yes No Don't know Not answered Total
Organisations:
Energy-related private sector 1   4 5
Landlord 10 7 2 9 28
Letting agents etc. 6 4   2 12
Local Authority 20   2   22
Other 1     3 4
Professional body 8 2 1 15 26
Third sector 3   8 11
Total organisations 49 13 5 41 108
% of organisations answering 73% 19% 7% 100%
Individuals 43 24 9 14 90
% of individuals answering 57% 32% 12% 100%
All respondents 92 37 14 55 198
% of all respondents 46% 19% 7% 28% 100%
% of all those answering 64% 26% 10% 100%

A majority of respondents, 64% of those answering the question, thought that electrical installations in private rented housing should be fitted with residual current devices. Organisational respondents were more likely to agree than individual respondents (73% and 57% respectively).

Although there was no specific opportunity to comment, a small number of comments were made at other questions. They included that any requirement should only apply as part of the current inspection regime or if considered necessary by an electrician carrying out an Electrical Installation Condition Report. It was also suggested that residual current devices on their own do not necessarily represent a safety improvement.

A specific issue was raised about there being situations where a residual current device cannot be retrospectively installed easily to give the desired level of protection. It was suggested any guidance should reflect these realities.

Question 2.15 - A qualified specialist must be employed for any work that involves removing or disturbing asbestos. Asbestos surveys ensure that a landlord knows when a qualified specialist must be used. Do you think that asbestos surveys should be carried out in private rented housing?

Table 33: Question 2.15 – Responses by type of respondent

Type of respondent Yes No Don't know Not answered Total
Organisations:
Energy-related private sector   1 4 5
Landlord 3 15 2 8 28
Letting agents etc. 1 9   2 12
Local Authority 16 3 3   22
Other 1   3 4
Professional body 7 3 1 15 26
Third sector 3   8 11
Total organisations 31 30 7 40 108
% of organisations answering 46% 44% 10% 100%
Individuals 30 41 8 11 90
% of individuals answering 38% 52% 10% 100%
All respondents 61 71 15 51 198
% of all respondents 31% 36% 8% 26% 100%
% of all those answering 41% 48% 10% 100%

Views were mixed at this question although the largest proportion of respondents, 48% of those answering the question, thought that asbestos surveys should not be carried out in private rented housing. Of the remaining respondents, 41% thought they should and 10% did not know. A majority of individual respondents thought they should not be carried out, as did the majority of landlord and letting agent respondents.

Although there was no specific opportunity to comment, a small number of comments were made at other questions. Comments included:

  • Asbestos surveys should only be required to be carried out when significant repair and/or upgrade works are being carried out, at which point an appropriate expert contractor should be used.
  • If the presence of asbestos is suspected, and required works would be likely to disturb the material, an assessment must be carried out. If there is no risk of disturbance an assessment should be unnecessary.

• If any new requirements are introduced, they should only apply to properties constructed before the year 2000.

Question 2.16 - Do you think that the repairing standard should be amended to include a duty on landlords of private rented properties with a private water supply, covering (a) risk assessment of the supply, and (b) annual water quality testing?

Table 34: Question 2.16 – Responses by type of respondent

Type of respondent Yes No Don't know Not answered Total
Organisations:
Energy-related private sector 1   4 5
Landlord 9 9 1 9 28
Letting agents etc. 3 6 1 2 12
Local Authority 18 1 2 1 22
Other 1   3 4
Professional body 10 2 1 13 26
Third sector 2   1 8 11
Total organisations 44 18 6 40 108
% of organisations answering 65% 26% 9% 100%
Individuals 33 35 9 13 90
% of individuals answering 43% 45% 12% 100%
All respondents 77 53 15 53 198
% of all respondents 39% 27% 8% 27% 100%
% of all those answering 53% 37% 10% 100%

A small majority of respondents, 53% of those answering the question, thought that the repairing standard should be amended to include a duty on landlords of private rented properties with a private water supply, covering (a) risk assessment of the supply, and (b) annual water quality testing. However, more individual respondents thought it should not be amended than that it should (45% and 43% respectively with 12% saying they did not know). The majority of letting agents also did not think the standard should be amended while landlords were evenly divided on this issue.

Question 2.17 - Do you think that the repairing standard should be amended to include capacity for a fridge/freezer in order to ensure people are able to store food (option 1)?

Table 35: Question 2.17 – Responses by type of respondent

Type of respondent Yes No Don't know Not answered Total
Organisations:
Energy-related private sector 1   4 5
Landlord 8 11 1 8 28
Letting agents etc. 4 6   2 12
Local Authority 17 5   22
Other 1   3 4
Professional body 7 4 15 26
Third sector 3   8 11
Total organisations 41 26 1 40 108
% of organisations answering 60% 38% 1% 100%
Individuals 25 50 3 12 90
% of individuals answering 32% 64% 4% 100%
All respondents 66 76 4 52 198
% of all respondents 33% 38% 2% 26% 100%
% of all those answering 45% 52% 3% 100%

A small majority of respondents, 52% of those answering the question, thought that the repairing standard should not be amended to include capacity for a fridge/freezer in order to ensure people are able to store food (option 1). The majority of individual respondents and the majority of letting agents and landlords did not agree. However, the majority of all organisational respondents, 60% of those answering the question, did think the repairing standard should be amended.

Although there was no specific opportunity to comment, a comment was made at another question. A respondent who had agreed suggested that the amendment should only require there to be space for a freestanding fridge/freezer within 10 metres of the kitchen sink and that the space should be for an appliance 50cm wide x 85cm high.

Question 2.18 - Do you think that private landlords should be required to provide cookers, fridges and freezers (option 2)?

Table 36: Question 2.18 – Responses by type of respondent

Type of respondent Yes No Don't know Not answered Total
Organisations:
Energy-related private sector   1   4 5
Landlord 20 8 28
Letting agents etc. 2 8 2 12
Local Authority 5 17   22
Other   1 3 4
Professional body   13   13 26
Third sector 1 2 8 11
Total organisations 8 61 1 38 108
% of organisations answering 11% 87% 1% 100%
Individuals 6 70 3 11 90
% of individuals answering 8% 89% 4% 100%
All respondents 14 131 4 49 198
% of all respondents 7% 66% 2% 25% 100%
% of all those answering 9% 88% 3% 100%

A majority of respondents, 88% of those answering the question, did not think that private landlords should be required to provide cookers, fridges and freezers (option 2). There were no respondent groups in which the majority agreed with this option.

Although there was no specific opportunity to comment, a small number of comments were made at other questions. They included that the negative impact of introducing this requirement would be disproportionate to the need. Another respondent who did not think this option should be a requirement, commented that many tenants have their own appliances and do not want the landlord to provide them. It was also suggested that many landlords will spend as little as they can on appliances and the system should not deter tenants from choosing to invest more.

Question 2.19 - Do you think that the repairing standard should be amended to include a specific reference to safety of heating systems using other fuels in addition to gas and electricity?

Table 37: Question 2.19 – Responses by type of respondent

Type of respondent Yes No Don't know Not answered Total
Organisations:
Energy-related private sector 1   4 5
Landlord 9 8 2 9 28
Letting agents etc. 7 3   2 12
Local Authority 22     22
Other 1 3 4
Professional body 11 15 26
Third sector 6 5 11
Total organisations 57 11 2 38 108
% of organisations answering 81% 16% 3% 100%
Individuals 41 28 9 12 90
% of individuals answering 53% 36% 12% 100%
All respondents 98 39 11 50 198
% of all respondents 49% 20% 6% 25% 100%
% of all those answering 66% 26% 7% 100%

A majority of respondents, 66% of those answering the question, thought that the repairing standard should be amended to include a specific reference to safety of heating systems using other fuels in addition to gas and electricity. Organisational respondents were more likely to agree than individual respondents (81% and 53% respectively).

Although there was no specific opportunity to comment, a small number of comments were made at other questions. These comments included that, in the interest of consumer confidence, all systems should be certified safe, by installers accredited to install them.

However, a respondent who had agreed suggested the amendment should only apply for heating systems supplying heat to more than one room and not for stand-alone appliances such as an open fire or solid fuel stove.

Question 2.20 - Do you think that the repairing standard should be amended to include flooring materials to reduce sound transmitted to other homes?

Table 38: Question 2.20 – Responses by type of respondent

Type of respondent Yes No Don't know Not answered Total
Organisations:
Energy-related private sector   1   4 5
Landlord 3 14 2 9 28
Letting agents etc. 1 9   2 12
Local Authority 4 13 4 1 22
Other 1   3 4
Professional body 3 8 2 13 26
Third sector 1 2 1 7 11
Total organisations 13 47 9 39 108
% of organisations answering 19% 68% 13% 100%
Individuals 23 47 9 11 90
% of individuals answering 29% 59% 11% 100%
All respondents 36 94 18 50 198
% of all respondents 18% 47% 9% 25% 100%
% of all those answering 24% 64% 12% 100%

A majority of respondents, 64% of those answering the question, thought that the repairing standard should not be amended to include flooring materials to reduce sound transmitted to other homes. Organisational respondents were more likely to disagree than individual respondents (68% and 59% respectively).

Although there was no specific opportunity to comment, a small number of comments were made at other questions. They included that:

  • The level of resources required for local authorities to regulate, monitor and enforce this provision would not be proportionate to the need.
  • Difficulties were created when similar policies were adopted in Edinburgh.
  • This requirement could be amended to address both sound and thermal improvements.

Question 2.21 - What (if any) other measures to reduce sound transmission should be considered?

There were around 60 comments at Question 2.21. A majority of those providing comment had indicated at Question 2.20 that they did not think that the repairing standard should include flooring materials to reduce sound transmission to other homes. Specific points made by these respondents included:

  • The repairing standard should relate to the safety of the home rather than minimum comfort levels.
  • The proposals would lead to excessive regulation and could result in landlords removing properties from the sector. Use of flooring materials to reduce sound transmission should be encouraged through guidance and codes of practice but should not be mandatory.
  • There are regulations and procedures in place to deal with sound transmission and noise complaints. Respondents referred to sound insulation standards included under Building Standards (Scotland) Regulations, legislation to deal with noise nuisance, and procedures for dealing with noise complaints.
  • Noise levels will depend on building design and how individuals behave. Relative to these factors, measures around flooring material will have little impact.
  • Soft floor coverings typically require more frequent replacement, leading to increased costs for landlords.
  • Any requirement would be difficult for local authorities to enforce.

Several respondents suggested amendment or further clarification of the proposals. This included requests for further detail on the technical aspects, including what is considered as excessive noise and the extent of flexibility to allow for circumstances where floor coverings would have limited benefit. Some suggested that the requirement should only apply where there is evidence of excessive noise transmission and/or previous noise complaints, and that an exception should apply where neighbours provide a statement that they are satisfied with existing noise insulation. It was also suggested that the proposed amendment to the repairing standard provides an opportunity to also include thermal insulation to private rented properties, and that landlords should not be permitted to apply for any exemption where flooring materials would improve thermal insulation.

A number of those who agreed that the repairing standard should include flooring materials to reduce sound transmission, simply stated that no other measures should be considered to reduce sound transmission. However, other measures were suggested, including because of a suggested need to tackle the issue of noise in older and flatted properties. There was also reference to difficulties for enforcement agencies in dealing with noise complaints related to poor insulation.

Specific measures proposed were:

  • A requirement for a minimum percentage of the floor area to be carpeted.
  • Guidance for landlords and tenants on practical measures to reduce sound transmission.
  • Landlords should be encouraged to consider improvements to reduce noise transmission when making other improvement works.
  • Use of insulation grants to improve sound insulation.
  • Installations of underfloor insulation and deafening material. Insulation of any wall mountings for audio-visual equipment, double glazing of windows and provision of door dampeners.
  • Including clauses in tenancy agreements relating to noise transmission.
  • Regulation related to keeping of animals.

Finally, it was suggested that to ensure equity, any requirements should apply to all tenures, including the owner-occupied sector.

Question 2.22 - Do you think anything else should be added to the repairing standard?

There were around 55 comments at Question 2.22. Around half of those providing comment indicated that they did not think anything else should be added to the repairing standard. Further points raised included that the repairing standard should remain focused on its core aims and that it would be unfair to impose a higher standard on the PRS than applies to social housing.

There were a small number of suggestions for changes to the repairing standard, including:

  • Replacing the requirement for landlords to have regard to building regulations and statutory guidance on provision for detecting fire and carbon monoxide, with a specific statement of requirements for landlords.
  • Relaxing statutory guidance on smoke/heat detection to allow installation of interlinked detectors powered by sealed 10-year batteries.

There was also a range of suggestions for additions to the repairing standard, including:

  • Including the minimum energy efficiency standard as part of the repairing standard, as set out in Part One of the consultation.
  • Improved insulation standards for new-build properties.
  • Provision of an Electrical Installation Condition Report or Gas Safety Certificate as mandatory under the repairing standard.
  • Measures to address specific risks and elements of disrepair including:
    • Internal air quality, including adequate ventilation.
    • Control of condensation and mould where this is not as a result of penetrating dampness.
    • Provision of fire doors to the front entrances to individual flats within blocks.
    • Ensuring external cladding and insulation is fire resistant.
    • Mandatory legionella risk assessment.
    • Testing of smoke alarms.
    • Residual current devices for electrical equipment.
    • Radon testing.
    • Low sill heights to windows.
    • Areas of vulnerable glazing.
    • Blind cords.
    • Hazards in gardens including terracing, ponds, structures such as greenhouses.
    • Recording power meter types to log change from credit to pay as you go.
  • Ensuring that furnished flats come equipped with white goods.

Other suggestions focused on delivery or enforcement and included:

  • Subsidies for installation of improved materials to older properties.
  • Better guidance on landlords' responsibilities, including common repairs responsibilities, and water supply responsibilities. Ensuring effective enforcement of regulations and standards. This included a suggestion that failure to comply is made a criminal offence.
  • Provisions to hold tenants responsible for damage.
  • Stronger terms in tenancy agreements to ensure prompt access to complete required works.

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