The Private Rented Housing Panel
The Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 amended the existing repairing standard to extend the statutory obligations of private landlords to repair the properties that they let out.
The new Repairing Standard applies to almost all private sector tenancies and applies to existing tenancies as well as those created after 3 September 2007.
To meet the new repairing standard the landlord must ensure that:
- the house is wind and water tight and in all other respects reasonably fit for human habitation;
- the structure and exterior of the house (including drains, gutters and external pipes) are in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order,
- the installations in the house for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation, space heating and heating water are in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order,
- any fixtures, fittings and appliances provided by the landlord under the tenancy are in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order,
- any furnishings provided by the landlord under the tenancy are capable of being used safely for the purpose for which they are designed, and
- the house has satisfactory provision for detecting fires and for giving warning in the event of fire or suspected fire.
Guidance from the Scottish Government states “There should normally be at least one smoke alarm on each floor of a property. If there is more then one smoke alarm in the property they should be interlinked. While it is best practice to install mains powered smoke alarms, an existing smoke alarm may be mains powered or battery powered. Any smoke alarm installed in a rental property from 3 September 2007 must be hardwired; this includes replacement smoke alarms.”
The landlord must inspect the property before the start of the tenancy in order to identify any work necessary to meet the standard and must notify the tenant of any work that is required. It is the landlord’s duty to ensure that their properties meet the repairing standard before the property is let and at all times during the tenancy.
At the start of a tenancy the landlord must provide the tenant with written information on what effect the repairing standard will have in relation to their tenancy, including how the repairing standard can be enforced through the PRHP.
What is the Private Rented Housing Panel (PRHP)?
The PRHP offers tenants a quicker and easier route to enforce a landlord’s duty to repair.
If after trying to resolve the matter with their landlord, a tenant considers that the landlord has failed to meet their duty; the tenant can apply for the case to be considered by the PRHP.
The tenant will need to complete an application form (available from the PRHP website) setting out basic information about their complaint. If the case is accepted, it will be referred to a Committee for consideration.
If the Committee decides that the landlord has failed to comply with the Repairing Standard the Committee can make an enforcement order requiring the landlord to carry out the work. It is an offence to fail to comply with an enforcement order. If the landlord still fails to carry out the work then the Committee can impose a rent relief order to reduce the rent payable on the property until the Committee is satisfied that the work has been completed. This would mean that the tenant’s rent liability could be reduced by up to 90% during the period of the order. When the repair has been carried out and the Repairing Standard Enforcement Notice has been revoked, rent will be due as normal.
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