With COP26 and the environment on everyone’s mind, it is a timely reminder for landlords with tenanted agricultural housing to begin thinking about what needs to be done in order to meet the repairing standard.
In 2019 the Scottish Government made a raft of changes to the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 and one of these changes meant that farmhouses must meet the ‘repairing standard’. Currently excluded, this brings tenanted agricultural properties into line with private sector rented housing. Types of leases affected are 1991 Act Tenancies, Short Limited Duration Tenancies, Limited Duration Tenancies, Modern Limited Duration Tenancies and Repairing Tenancies. The 2006 Act defines a “landlord” as “any person who lets a house under a tenancy…”. Clearly that could equally apply to an agricultural tenant who then sub-lets a cottage on a let farm.
The repairing standard raises the bar significantly. Landlords are required to ensure properties are wind and water-tight and the systems, structures, and appliances to be in good repair and in proper working order. All properties must be fitted with hard wired, interlinked smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the property. Furthermore, properties must meet the minimum energy efficiency standard (EPC rating D). This might be particularly onerous as agricultural housing stock tends to be older and less efficient to start with.
Whilst enforcement action will not be taken before 2027, landlords should be thinking about what work will need done to meet the standard sooner rather than later. After 29 March 2027 failure to comply will mean the property is “sub-standard” and could result in a complaint to the First Tier Tribunal. This could result in an Enforcement Order, requiring the landlord to carry out the necessary repairs within a fixed timeframe, under threat of a fine or a Rent Relief Order, which could reduce the rent payable by up to 90%.
And while 2027 may seem far enough away to be able to deal with any changes, those grappling with our climate change ambitions at COP26 will know the importance of acting sooner rather than later.
As featured in Farming Leader December 2021 edition