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What standards can you expect as a tenant?

Introduction

If you live in rented accommodation, you should expect your home to be in good repair, warm, secure and free from health and safety hazards. There are laws available to ensure these standards are met.

It is important that landlords who provide rented accommodation ensure their homes meet the legal minimum required. However, it is important that you contact your landlord to let them know you have a problem and to allow him/her time to fix any faults. Therefore we would ask you to:

  1. contact your landlord, in writing, to let him know you are unhappy and have repairs that need doing.
  2. give your landlord a reasonable amount of time to do any works that are needed.

If the landlord does not complete the works or you do not think he/she has repaired the faults properly, then you can contact us and explain why you feel there are still problems in your house (contact details provided below).

What minimum standards should you expect?

Generally the minimum standard for any room, flat or house that is offered for let is:

  • that it is provided in good repair and in a clean condition
  • that it has sufficient space for the number of occupants
  • that it has sufficient clean furniture and fixtures/fittings as described for the letting (if let as part/fully furnished)
  • that it is free from hazards that may harm the health, safety or well-being of any person
  • that there is sufficient shared facilities for the occupants who use them
  • the tenant is provided with a written contract/tenancy agreement
  • the tenant is provided with a pre-tenancy inventory so they know exactly what is provided (for deposit return purposes)
  • there is a current Gas Safety Certificate
  • there is a smoke alarm on each floor
  • there is a carbon monoxide detector if the house has a wood/coal burner or fire
  • that the property is well managed
  • the tenant is provided with a copy of the 'How to Rent' booklet

How do we enforce standards?

When we receive a complaint from you we will call you and discuss the problems you are having. If it is appropriate then one of our housing officers will arrange a date and time to visit you at your home so that they can conduct a whole house investigation.

Our housing officers are fully trained and authorised in inspecting houses and after their inspection they will normally:

  • write informally to your landlord and
  • provide 42 days for him/her to conduct all repairs that are needed.

If after 42 days the majority of the works remain outstanding or your landlord refuses to do the works, then we will consider taking formal enforcement action against him/her - this is when we serve legal notices, which include:

  • Hazard Awareness Notices
  • Improvement Notices
  • Emergency Remedial Action
  • Prohibition Orders
  • Demolition Notices

If you have any complaints about your landlord, especially if you believe work has not been successfully completed despite you talking to him/her about the issues, you can report these problems to the private sector housing team online or via our contact centre on 01744 676789.

Energy Performance Certificates

Your landlord must provide you with a copy of the EPC, which contains the energy performance rating of the property you are renting, free of charge at the onset of your tenancy.

As of April 2020, all privately rented properties must have an energy performance rating of EPC band E or above (unless a valid exemption applies) before being let out. You can also search online for the EPC and check its rating.

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) for privately rented properties

The Domestic MEES Regulations set a minimum energy efficiency level for domestic private rented properties.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) are rated on a scale of A-G. Since 1 April 2020, landlords can no longer let or continue to let properties covered by the MEES Regulations if they have an EPC rating below E.

The government has committed to improve the energy performance standards of privately rented homes in England and Wales, with the aim for as many of them as possible to be upgraded to EPC Band C by 2030, where practical, cost-effective and affordable.

A property with an EPC rating of F or G must be improved to E immediately or be registered for an exemption, which lasts for five years. To register an exemption on GOV.UK, landlords must provide evidence that energy efficiency improvements will:

  • need third-party consent
  • cost more than £3,500, or that £3,500 or more has already been spent 
  • devalue the property

Other reasons may also be accepted: please read the full guidance on exemptions and the evidence requirements on GOV.UK.

How to check an energy efficiency rating

An EPC will give an energy efficiency rating and an environmental impact rating. It will also estimate the energy use, carbon dioxide emissions, lighting, heating and hot water per year, along with the potential annual costs for each.

If a property has been marketed for sale or to let, or it has been modified in the past 10 years, it should have an EPC.

Find an EPC by postcode on GOV.UK

It is a legal requirement to have an EPC for a privately rented property. An EPC can be obtained from a qualified assessor. A landlord can book a property assessment on GOV.UK

How to improve an energy rating

There are a number of energy efficiency schemes that can assist with the cost of making improvements. At present funding may be available to landlords via the Sustainable Warmth Scheme, which is subject to eligibility and a survey.

How much will improvement work cost?

The maximum cost that a landlord is obliged to spend to try and improve an EPC rating from F or G to E is £3,500 including VAT. Find out more about typical improvement costs on GOV.UK.

Enforcement action

All landlords are strongly advised to take action and speak to their tenants and other interested parties to improve energy ratings to comply with the minimum requirements.

If a local authority believes a landlord has failed to fulfil their obligations under the MEES Regulations, they can serve the landlord with a compliance notice. If a breach is confirmed, the landlord may receive a financial penalty of up to £5,000 per property.

How we can help if your landlord fails to take action

A landlord must comply with their legal obligations to improve the property to a minimum standard - an EPC rating of E. If your landlord fails to take action, please report these problems to the private sector housing team online or via our contact centre on 01744 676789.

Electrical safety

Under the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020, landlords have to get their property electrics checked at least every five years by a properly qualified person. This applies to new tenancies from 1 July 2020 and existing tenancies from 1 April 2021.

The electrics must be safe and your landlord must give you proof of this. For more information please see the government's guidance on electrical safety standards in the private rented sector.

Enforcement policy and regulators code

In order to ensure our procedures are fair and followed correctly, we have produced an enforcement policy. The policy sets out how we must conduct our inspections and what considerations we must have when we take informal or formal action. Please see the link below for further information. 

The regulators code works in partnership with our enforcement policy. The main aim of the regulators code is to develop an open and constructive relationship between the regulator and those we have responsibility to regulate.

The code requires us as regulators to provide clear details relating to information, guidance and advice.

Procedures are therefore available in relation to the conduct of regulatory officers involved with risk assessments or inspections and how they will respond to non-compliance issues.

Any fees or charges that may be necessary are also clearly defined, as is our appeals, comments and complaints procedure.