Repairing and Improving Private Property
The Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 was brought in to address problems of condition and quality in private sector housing. This includes a range of measures including designating Housing Renewal Areas, defining a repairing standard for private landlords, works notices, maintenance orders, a scheme of assistance, and a requirement for Local Authorities to include policies and strategies for dealing with houses which are substandard.
Owner occupiers are ultimately responsible for maintaining and repairing their properties. The Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 recognised that public money should only support owners’ repairs and maintenance where it is strictly necessary or where no other suitable alternative exists.
For owner occupiers, their property must still meet a basic level of repair and therefore be fit to live in. This is defined as the tolerable standard, which is detailed below:
Your property may not be fit to live in if:
- It has a bad problem with rising or penetrating damp.
- It is not structurally stable, for example it's subsiding.
- It doesn't have adequate ventilation, natural and artificial light or heating.
- It doesn't have adequate thermal insulation.
- It doesn't have an adequate supply of fresh water.
- It doesn't have a sink with hot and cold water.
- It doesn't have an indoor toilet.
- It doesn't have a fixed bath or shower and wash basin with hot and cold water.
- It doesn't have a good drainage and sewerage system.
- If there is an electric supply and it doesn't meet the relevant safety regulations.
- There are no satisfactory cooking facilities (this doesn't mean you have to provide a cooker, but there must be somewhere suitable for tenants to install their own cooking facilities).
- It doesn't have a proper entrance.
In dealing with properties which are below the tolerable standard Orkney Islands Council has statutory powers to maintain and improve their general condition. Close joint working exists between the Council’s Housing Services and Environmental Health. Properties will normally be identified as a result of a complaint, a request for re-housing or as part of a visit on another matter.
Where a property is identified as being below the tolerable standard the Council will find an appropriate solution which will be:
- Formal action.
- Help under the Scheme of Assistance.
In some situations formal enforcement action may be taken in line with the Council’s Environmental Health and Trading Standards Enforcement Policy.
The Local Authority may serve a works notice in respect of sub-standard housing, that is a property which does not meet the tolerable standard, or is (or if nothing is done will be) in serious disrepair.
As a private tenant your landlord is bound by a legal requirement for your property to meet a minimum standard. This is defined by the Repairing Standard. In order to meet the Repairing Standard :
- The property must be wind and watertight.
- The property must be fit for tenants to live in.
- The structure and exterior of the property (for example, the walls and roof) must be in a reasonable condition.
- The installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity, and for sanitation, space heating and heating water must be in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order (these include external installations such as drains).
- Any fixtures, fittings or appliances provided by the landlord (such as carpets, light fittings, white goods and household equipment) must be in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order.
- Any furnishings provided by the you must be capable of being used safely for the purpose for which they are designed.
- The property must have suitable smoke detectors - there should be at least one smoke detector on each floor of the property, and if the alarms were installed after September 2007, they should be mains powered rather than battery powered.
Landlords have an obligation to meet this standard and where housing fails this standard, tenants may seek recourse from the Private Rented Housing Panel. A link to the Private Rented Housing Panel can be found in the related sites section on the left of this page. Further information can be found in the related links section of this page under Property Repairs and the Repairing Standard.
The Scheme of Assistance
If an owner needs help to look after their home, the Scheme of Assistance allows Orkney Islands Council broad discretionary powers to provide assistance.
This assistance can be provided through advice and guidance, practical help, or through financial assistance by way of grants or loans. It will be up to the local authority to determine what kinds of assistance are made available on the basis of local priorities and budgets.
Orkney Islands Council must provide assistance to owners who have been served a statutory work notice requiring them to bring a house into a reasonable state of repair.
We must also provide assistance by way of a grant for most work to adapt homes to meet the needs of disabled people, other than for home extensions.
All other assistance is discretionary.
Further information regarding The Scheme of Assistance can be found on the left of this page.
Disabled Adaptation Grants
If you require adaptations to your property to accommodate someone with a disability then whether you are a private tenant or owner occupier you can apply for a grant from the council. As a tenant you'll need to get your landlord's permission to get the work done, but they can't turn down your request without a good reason.
Orkney Islands Council must offer the disabled person in your household an assessment of their needs, which will be carried out by the Occupational Therapy Service. The assessment will also take into account the needs of other members of your household. Once the assessment has been carried out, Orkney Islands Council will recommend ways to make life easier for the disabled person.
Further information regarding Disabled Adaptations Grants can be found on the left of this page.