Every landlord needs their rental property to meet a minimum standard to be classed as habitable. This is called the Decent Homes Standard, and one of those standards is meeting the Health and safety standards for rented homes (HHSRS).
If your property has been uninhabited for a while, you may think it will take a lot of work, but it is actually not as difficult as you may think. Most of it is common sense, but in all cases we recommend having a building surveyor inspect your property, which can clear up how much work actually needs to be done to the property. Below are the issues listed on the HHSRS and how to deal with them if you think your property has a problem with any of them:
- You can buy a damp detector to find out if the problem is with damp coursing or simply down to condensation. If you’d rather a professional did it for you, have an expert come out to run tests instead.
- If it is an issue with damp coursing, the problem may be more expensive, but mould due to condensation can be easily improved by providing the tenant with a dehumidifier and advising them to properly ventilate and heat the home.
- Also cleaning any mould before the property is let using a strong bleach solution or supermarket-bought mould and mildew remover will remove the mould and help prevent mould from growing back.
- Excessive cold/heat
- All homes should have a heat source, and if there is none installed this can be costly to install. However, cold may be due to ineffective insulation, which is cheaper and simpler to install than upgrading your central heating.
- Ensure any cracks or gaps in walls, especially around doors and windows, are filled adequately using appropriate materials – this can be done yourself if you are confident at DIY.
- Dangerous chemicals
- This covers substances such as asbestos and carbon dioxide. Asbestos testing can be carried out for around £250. If any is detected, it can be very costly to remove. You should always seek the advice of an expert in the detection and removal of dangerous chemicals. For your own safety, never attempt this yourself!
- Overcrowding does not effect what the landlord needs to do to prepare the property prior to letting, however it is one of the criteria on the HHSRS so we are addressing it here
- The number of rooms considered enough for a family is:
- 1 room for 2 people
- 2 rooms for 3 people
- 3 rooms for 5 people
- 4 rooms for 7.5 people
- 5 or more rooms for 2 people per room
- Before accepting tenants for your house, check the link above and make sure you are not allowing overcrowding in your property. Arrange to meet all the occupants before they move in, and have all occupants over the age of 10 sign the tenancy agreement.
- Doors and windows need to have adequate locks to ensure the safety and security of your tenant and their belongings, and to ensure they can adequately insure their contents. You can check if your windows and doors comply by looking on any insurance website.
- Noise is the most reported problem for any tenants renting a property. Noise can be caused by anything from loud neighbours to railway proximity. This website lists the most common causes and how to deal with each noise issue individually if you feel it may be a potential issue for your tenant.
- Light levels
- Simply put, each room should have a window and/or light switch. If there is a room without either, contact a glazer and electrician to install them where they are needed.
- Health hazards (such as trips, electric/gas safety, or pests)
- This covers all ‘category 1 hazards’, which are serious threats to occupants and visitors. These, and all the other problems listed in this article, can be detected by having a building surveyor look at the property and advise you. They can also advise you on who is best to contact to sort the problems out.
Disclaimer: The information here is for guidance only and does not constitute proper legal procedures for meeting minimum Decent Homes Standards. The websites linked to in this article are not affiliated in any way with KeyRing Lettings and we hold no responsibility for the information provided on these sites. We advise you enlist the services of a qualified and RICS (or equivalent) certified building surveyor before letting your property.