Minimum standards for rental accommodation are prescribed by means of Regulations made under Section 18 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1992, as updated by the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2009.
The relevant standards are currently set out under:
- Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2008 (S.I. 534/2008)
- Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) (Amendment) Regulations 2009 (S.I. No. 462 of 2009).
The Regulations took effect in their entirety for all newly rented properties being let for the first time from the 1st February 2009. However certain aspects of the new Regulations may have required significant refurbishment works for existing tenancies, which are properties let at any time from the 1st of September 2004 to the 31st January 2009, and so a four year phasing in period was afforded to these landlords to facilitate any improvement works that need to be carried out. As a result, on the 1st of February 2013, Articles 6, 7 and 8 of the Regulations will come into effect in their entirety for all existing rented accommodation (Circular Ref: 33/2012). This will result in the phasing-out of the traditional “bed-sit”, where sanitary facilities are shared between different rental units, and also in the modernisation of the requirements in relation to heating and facilities for cooking, food storage and laundry.
The Regulations do not apply to houses let for the purpose of a holiday, Housing Authority demountable houses and communal type accommodation provided by the Health Services Executive and certain approved non-profit or voluntary bodies. With the exception of Article 8 Food Preparation, Storage and Laundry – the Regulations also apply to houses let by Housing Authorities.
Main Provisions of the 2008 Regulations
These regulations specify requirements in relation to:
- Structural Condition
- Sanitary Facilities
- Heating Facilities
- Food Preparation and Storage and Laundry
- Fire Safety
- Refuse Facilities
- Electricity and Gas
Further information on the relevant legislation may be obtained on www.environ.ie or www.irishstatutebook.ie
Inspections of Private Rented Accommodation
Local Authority inspectors are “authorised persons” who are empowered to inspect a private rented house under the aforementioned legislation. Sligo Local Authorities have an active inspections programme ongoing in this area.
Enforcement of Housing Standards
All landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that their rented properties comply with the aforementioned Regulations and responsibility for the enforcement of the Regulations rests with the relevant Local Authority. Landlords failing to comply with their legal obligations in private rented accommodation are liable to be prosecuted, and on conviction, may be subject to a fine not exceeding €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both, along with a daily fine of €400 for a continuing offence.
Dealing with Complaints
Tenants occupying accommodation not meeting the relevant standards should, in the first instance, contact the landlord in order to give the landlord an opportunity to put the matter right. If a tenant has notified the landlord regarding the need for repairs, but the problem has not been rectified by the landlord, then the tenant can chose to refer the matter to the Housing Department for investigation. When contacting the Housing Department, the tenant should provide their full name, address and telephone number/mobile number along with full details of their concerns/query. The name, address and contact details for the landlord should also be provided.
Complaints cannot be dealt with when:
- They are anonymous
- The matter does not relate to housing standards
- There is insufficient information given to investigate
- If it is the opinion of the Housing Section that the complaint requires further investigation, then an appointment will be made to inspect the relevant property and further action initiated if warranted.
Rent Book Regulations
Landlords are obliged to provide tenants with a “rent book” (or other documentation serving the same purpose) at the commencement of a tenancy. This applies to dwellings rented by private landlords, voluntary bodies, local authorities and employers. The requirement to provide a rent book is set down under:
- Housing (Rent Books) Regulations 1993
- Housing (Rent Books) Regulations (Amendment) Regulations 2004)
- Housing (Rent Books) Regulations (Amendment) Regulations 2010)
- (Made under Section 17) of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992.