The Repairing Standard Annex B, sets statutory guidance for private landlords to ensure the house is wind and water tight and in all other respects reasonably fit for human habitation.
The Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 section 13(1)(a) already requires that the house is wind and water tight and in all other respects reasonably fit for human habitation. The test has been defined as “wind and watertight against what may be called the ordinary attacks of the elements, not against exceptional encroachments of water due to other causes”. This could be expressed as “weathertight”, that a house should be free from draughts and leaks under the current climatic conditions of the area where it was built.
Private landlords must be satisfied that any house they rent to tenants is fit for the tenants to live in. They should be confident that the essential fabric elements of the property (i.e. those parts of the physical structure which ensure the building’s stability and resistance to the ordinary encroachments of weather) are in good repair.
If essential fabric elements are not in good repair, then it is likely that the inside of the property will, in time, be adversely affected. The most common problems arise with rising or penetrating dampness in the property. Private landlords must ensure that the properties they rent to tenants are substantially free from rising and penetrating damp, which is also required by the Tolerable Standard.
A problem with penetrating damp indicates that the house may not be weathertight. A problem with rising damp indicates a fabric defect that can affect habitability. Problems with damp constitute sanitary defects for this element of the Repairing Standard under sections 13(2) and 70(1) of the 2006 Act.
Private landlords must consider the following issues when assessing if the essential fabric elements of a property are in good repair:
Private landlords should be aware that dampness has historically been a significant housing problem in Scotland. It is, however, unacceptable for people to be living in houses with levels of rising or penetrating dampness that materially affect their health and comfort or cause further physical damage to the property.
Each property will be different and private landlords must exercise judgement in assessing if the essential fabric elements are adequate to ensure the property is wind and watertight. Private landlords should be looking for visible persistent or recurring damp impact in one or more areas, which could be harmful to occupiers, damage furniture or belongings, or be a sign of damage to the building fabric.
Private landlords should look for signs of rising damp, penetrating damp and condensation. Further information on indicators and causes of damp can be found on the Government’s website.
If dampness is suspected or found to be present in a privately let property, private landlords must take action to address the problem. Where possible, immediate action should be taken to help improve the living conditions of the occupants but it is likely relevant professional expertise will be required, this should be sought as soon as possible to enable a plan of action to be put in place to deal with dampness in the home.
Immediate steps could include increasing the ventilation (including mechanical ventilation) in the home and ensuring it is adequately heated. Where the root cause of dampness or condensation is found to be due to a lack of satisfactory heating, ventilation or thermal insulation or a combination of factors rather than rising or penetrating damp alone, landlords are required to meet the minimum standards for each of these elements.
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*Please note: The above summary is based on FireAngel’s interpretation of The Repairing Standard Annex B, always refer to the standard for specific guidance.