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Information requirements under the 2006 Housing (Scotland) Act

publication date: Dec 13, 2007
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Much has been spoken of and written about the terms of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 (the Act). Indeed, a number of articles have appeared in this publication on the new obligations imposed on landlords. Notwithstanding, there seems to be an element of confusion in the residential letting sector as to the applicability of certain aspects of the new legislation.

As of the 3rd September 2007, all new Short Assured and Assured tenancies are affected by the terms of Section 20 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006. That means there is now an obligation on all landlords to provide certain information to tenants regarding the new Repairing Standard (Section 13 of the Act). As dealt with in previous articles, the new Repairing Standard modifies and extends the existing repairing obligations of landlords. Accordingly, in terms of Section 20 (1) of the Act, the landlord is required, at the beginning of the tenancy or earlier, to provide the tenant with written information on the effect of the Repairing Standard Provision in relation to the particular tenancy. This requirement relates to all tenancies starting on or after 3rd September 2007.

In practice, Landlords will need to provide the required information to the tenant, at the latest, on the completion of the agreement or preferably with the form AT5. The Act provides for guidance from the Scottish Ministers on the form and content of the notice under section 20(1), and a Standard Letter/ Notice to tenants, has been drafted.

There is also an obligation on Landlords to carry out a Pre-Tenancy inspection of the property to be let and advise tenants of any work that requires to be done to the property in order to met the new repairing standard (Section 19 of the Act). In addition, and as covered in previous articles, the new Repairing Standard introduces a requirement for “satisfactory provision for the detecting giving warnings of fires” (Section 13(1)).

What this means in practice is that, landlords should ensure that there is one or more functioning smoke alarms installed in any leased property. The number of position of these alarms will be determined by the size and layout of the property. It is worthy of note that, although existing smoke alarms may remain battery powered, any new smoke alarms (including replacements) installed from 3rd September 2007 must be mains powered. Further, where the property is an HMO, the Repairing Standard will only be met if the requirement in terms of those regulations is adhered to.

All new alarms should be installed in accordance with British Standard (BS5839 Part 6) and landlords should be aware that hard wired smoke alarm systems, may require building warrants.

Further guidance and the standard letter/notice are available for download from the Private Rented Housing Panel’s website www.prhpscotland.gov.uk.

Rory Cowan at Kerr Stirling Solicitors