New rental housing rules: here is what has changed

Updated regulations improve fire safety and provide better protection against vermin

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy: indicated this week  he was disposed to bringing bedsits back into use to address the housing crisis. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy: indicated this week he was disposed to bringing bedsits back into use to address the housing crisis. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

New rental housing regulations, which will increase fire-safety standards for tenants, and provide better protection against vermin, come into force today.

The regulations also put a final ban on bedsit flats, despite indications this week from Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy that he was disposed to bringing bedsits back into use to address the housing crisis “if we can get it right and get the standards right”.

The rules, which apply to private and local authorities housing, are the first significant revision of the minimum standard required for tenants’ homes since 2008.

The 2008 regulations saw many basic modern living conditions introduced as a right for the first time, including the right to a private bathroom, the availability of hot running water, and adequate cooking and laundry facilities.

The new regulations build on these provisions, with a particular emphasis on tenant safety in the home.

The most significant changes are in relation to fire safety and heating requirements. Every home must have a fire blanket. Standalone houses can have a 10-year battery operated smoke alarm, but there must one on each floor. However, “multi-unit” buildings – apartments and houses that have been split into flats, must have mains-wired fire detection and alarm system for each flat, and in the common areas, in line with the Fire Protection Acts. Multi-unit buildings also require emergency lighting.

Alarms

All homes will have to be fitted with carbon monoxide alarms and there must be an adequate air supply associated with heating appliances. In addition, all bathrooms and shower rooms must have permanent fixed heating.

A new provision has been included in the regulations to prevent people falling from windows. When a window is more than 1.4m above the outside ground level, safety restrictors must be fitted which limit the size of the opening.

The responsibility for protecting homes against rats and mice has also switched from the tenant to the landlord.

The regulations also close a loophole that allowed the continued use of certain types of bedsits. The 2008 regulations sought to remove bedsits from the market by stipulating that bathrooms must not be shared between flats. However, this did not prevent bathrooms from being located outside the front door of the flat, according to Colm Smyth, Dublin City Council’s principal environmental health officer.

“There was an anomaly where you could have part of the habitable space on one side of the landing and part of the habitable space on the other side of the landing and be technically compliant,” he said.

The new regulations stipulate the bathroom must be in the “same” habitable space. “Having it in the same habitable space means that anomaly is no longer there. It didn’t relate to a lot of properties but it was used in certain cases,” said Mr Smyth.