As landlord, you have a responsibility to maintain certain standards within the property at the start of the tenancy and at all times during it. These standards are defined under the Repairing Standard legislation.
The landlord, at a minimum, must ensure that:
• The house is wind and water tight and reasonably fit for human habitation
• The structure and exterior of the property, including drains, gutters and external pipes, are in reasonable repair and working order – this includes repairs to common parts of the building such as stairways, hallways shared with other tenants etc
• The installations in the house for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation, space heating and heating water are in reasonable repair and proper working order
• Any fixtures, fitting and appliances provided under the tenancy are in reasonable repair and proper working order
• Any furnishings provided under the tenancy are capable of being used safely for the purpose for which they are designed
• There is satisfactory provision for detecting and giving warning of fires*
The landlord (or their agent) must carry out an inspection of the property prior to a tenant moving in. If any repairs cannot be carried out before the tenant moves in, the landlord must provide the tenant with written details of the work to be carried out and when it will be done.
The tenant is responsible for notifying the landlord of any required repairs during the tenancy – the Repairing Standard duty only applies where the landlord is aware the work is required. Work must be carried out within a reasonable time – the length of time will depend on the nature and urgency of the work.
There are now regulations in place which require all landlords to carry out annual checks on gas installations and electrical appliances.
*Guidance on satisfactory fire detection states that there must be at least one functioning smoke alarm in the property – for larger properties at least one per floor although more may be required depending on the layout. Please note that if multiple alarms are installed, they must be interlinked. Any new smoke alarms installed after 3 September 2007 must be mains-wired, existing battery operated alarms may remain but if they need replaced it must be with mains-wired alarms. It is recommended that tenancy agreements contain a clause requiring the tenant to test alarms on a weekly basis and change the batteries at least once a year.
The Private Rented Housing Panel (PRHP) is the body responsible for dealing with any breaches of the Repairing Standard. If a tenant believes the property does not meet the standard they can report this to the PRHP. However the tenant must have reported the issue to the landlord in the first instance and allowed him adequate time to carry out the necessary work. Further information is available online from the Private Rented Housing Panel’s website which can be found in the 'Related Sites' section of this page or from the Homelessness and Advice section at Orkney Islands Council.