Landlords’ Responsibilities for Repair and Maintenance:
Part 4 of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 sets outs the obligations placed on a landlord with regard to the condition of a dwelling. These obligations apply to all occupation contracts made for a term of less than seven years. A landlord under an occupation contract is obliged to ensure a dwelling is both in repair and fit for human habitation (FFHH).
Whilst this guidance addresses the requirement for a dwelling to be FFHH, it is important landlords also understand their complementary obligations regarding repair. Often, a primary cause of a dwelling being unfit for human habitation is the level of disrepair that exists. Tackling disrepair early and effectively can often prevent a dwelling becoming unfit for human habitation.
Landlord’s obligation to keep the dwelling in repair
Section 92 of the Act sets out the landlord’s obligation to keep the dwelling in repair. This obligation extends to:
- the structure and exterior of the dwelling (including drains, gutters and external pipes), and
- the service installations in the dwelling, such as those:
- for the supply of water, gas or electricity,
- for sanitation, and
- for space heating or for heating water.
A landlord must keep the dwelling in repair at all times, although there may be instances where a landlord may not have knowledge of the need for a repair. Once the landlord is aware of the need for repairs, they must be carried out in a reasonable time and to a reasonable standard. This includes the obligation to make good any damage resulting from the repairs. The landlord cannot place any obligation on the contract-holder regarding the repairs, for example contributing to the cost, where the repair is not the fault of the contract-holder.
Landlord’s obligation to ensure a dwelling is fit for human habitation (FFHH)
Section 91 of the Act places an obligation on a landlord to ensure that, at the start of and during the length of the occupation contract, the dwelling is FFHH. These obligations are set out in The Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) (Wales) Regulations 2022 (“the FFHH Regulations”) The Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) (Wales) Regulations 2022 (on legislation.gov.uk) which set out the 29 matters and circumstances to which regard must be had when determining whether a property is FFHH. In addition, there are specific requirements placed upon a landlord to help ensure certain matters and circumstances do not arise.
The aim of the legislation, both the Act and the FFHH Regulations is one of prevention, to ensure landlords maintain dwellings to prevent them from becoming unfit for human habitation. Prevention of any of the 29 matters or circumstances arising is the approach all landlords should be taking. Not only is this approach more cost effective for landlords but, more fundamentally, it will avoid contract-holders potentially living in unfit conditions.
Whether a property is FFHH is to be determined by having regard to the 29 matters and circumstances. Whether the dwelling is a fit place to live should, in the vast majority of cases, be clear to both landlord and contract-holder. Ultimately, where a dispute cannot be resolved, whether the dwelling is FFHH will be a matter for the court to determine.
A landlord who has concerns about the fitness of a dwelling is advised to seek professional advice before issuing an occupation contract.
Part 2 of this guidance deals with specific requirements placed on the landlord as part of the FFHH Regulations, to help ensure some of the 29 matters and circumstances do not arise. For example, to minimise the possibility of fire and its impact there is a requirement for a landlord to ensure the presence of smoke alarms.
A local authority will assess the dwelling by reference to these matters and circumstances and classes of harm also specified in the HHSRS Regulations to identify whether a Category 1 or 2 hazard exists. However, whether or not a hazard as set out in Schedule 1 to the HHSRS Regulations exists does not pre-determine whether a dwelling is unfit for human habitation in accordance with the FFHH Regulations. For example while a slight variation of floor surface may be a hazard under the HHSRS it would be highly unlikely on its own, to result in a determination that the dwelling is unfit for human habitation. In the example given above regarding the hazard of falling on a level surface, while a slight variation of floor surface would be unlikely to breach the fitness obligation, a local authority inspection may find it to be a hazard under HHSRS. If an elderly person is living in the dwelling, the local authority is likely to take enforcement action against the landlord.
Part 1: the 29 matters and circumstances
- Damp, mites and mould or fungal growth: Exposure to house dust mites, damp, mould or fungal growths.
- Cold: Exposure to excessively low temperatures.
- Heat: Exposure to excessively high temperatures.
- Asbestos and manufactured mineral fibres: Exposure to asbestos fibres or manufactured mineral fibres.
- Biocides: Exposure to chemicals used to treat timber or mould growth.
- Carbon monoxide and fuel combustion products: Exposure to— (a) carbon monoxide; (b) nitrogen dioxide; (c) sulphur dioxide and smoke.
- Lead: The ingestion of lead.
- Radiation: Exposure to radiation.
- Uncombusted fuel gas: Exposure to uncombusted fuel gas.
- Volatile organic compounds: Exposure to volatile organic compounds.
- Crowding and space: A lack of adequate space for living and sleeping.
- Entry by intruders: Difficulties in keeping the dwelling secure against unauthorised entry.
- Lighting 13. A lack of adequate lighting.
- Noise 14. Exposure to noise.
- Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse 15.—(1) Poor design, layout or construction such that the dwelling cannot readily be kept clean. (2) Exposure to pests. (3) An inadequate provision for the hygienic storage and disposal of household waste.
- Food safety - An inadequate provision of facilities for the storage, preparation and cooking of food.
- Personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage - An inadequate provision of— (a) facilities for maintaining good personal hygiene; (b) sanitation and drainage.
- Water supply - An inadequate supply of water free from contamination, for drinking and other domestic purposes.
- Falls associated with baths etc - Falls associated with toilets, baths, showers or other washing facilities
- Falling on surfaces - Falling on a surface.
- Falling on stairs etc. - Falling on stairs, steps or ramps.
- Falling between surfaces - Falling from one surface to another (including falling from height).
- Electrical hazards - Exposure to electricity.
- Fire 24 - Exposure to uncontrolled fire and associated smoke.
- Flames, hot surfaces etc. - Contact with— (a) controlled fire or flames; (b) hot objects, liquid or vapours.
- Collision and entrapment - Collision with, or entrapment of body parts in, doors, windows or other architectural features.
- Explosions - An explosion at the dwelling.
- Position and operability of amenities etc. - The position, location and operability of amenities, fittings and equipment.
- Structural collapse and falling elements - The collapse of the whole or part of the dwelling including falling elements.
Part 2: landlord requirements
In addition, the FFHH Regulations place specific requirements on landlords to help prevent certain matters and circumstances arising. Where a landlord fails to comply with these requirements, the dwelling is to be treated as if it were unfit for human habitation. There are three requirements imposed on a landlord:
- ensuring the presence of smoke alarms in proper working order
- ensuring the presence of carbon monoxide detectors in proper working order
- ensuring the inspection and testing of the electrical installation
Further information available at: Fitness of homes for human habitation: guidance for landlords [HTML] | GOV.WALES
Landlord responsibilities for Registration and Licencing
All landlords in Wales are now required to register with Rent Smart Wales and if they are managing landlords to obtain a licence, or to nominate an agent with a licence. For more information on this please go to our Rent Smart Wales page.
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO): Special requirements apply to types of properties known as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) which place special responsibilities on landlords and agents. Certain HMO’s will need to be licenced. To view detailed guidance on the licensing requirements visit the Houses in Multiple Occupation page.
Duties on the Manager of an HMO: The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Wales) Regulations 2006 and 2007 place specific duties on the manager of an HMO. Failure to comply with the regulations is a criminal offence, leading to fines of up to £5,000 on conviction. Details concerning the Management regulations including specific obligations on the occupiers can be found on the Management Responsibilities page.
Energy Performance Certificates
A Landlord must provide an EPC to prospective tenants. The EPC is valid for ten years. If there have been significant changes to a property which would have an impact on the EPC the landlord may choose to commission a new one, but they are not obliged to do so.
In domestic private rent properties the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards now apply to all tenancies. The EPC must show a minimum value of an E rating. If the property is an F or G then the landlord is not allowed to rent the property out, unless it is registered as an exemption. There are substantial fines for landlords if the Energy Efficiency regulations are not met.
More information can be found on the Government website.