Minimum standards for rental accommodation are prescribed in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2008, made under section 18 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992. These regulations were further amended by the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) (Amendment) Regulations 2009, which expanded the definition of "a proper state of structural repair" to allow for all aspects of the internal and external appearance of a dwelling to be taken into account for the purposes of the regulations. All landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that their rented properties comply with these regulations. Responsibility for enforcing the regulations rests with the relevant local authority, supported by a dedicated stream of funding allocated by my Department.
Article 12 of the regulations provides that each house must have access to suitable and adequate pest and vermin-proof refuse storage facilities. In addition, section 12 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, as amended by section 100 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, requires a landlord of a dwelling to provide receptacles suitable for the storage of refuse outside the dwelling except where the provision of such receptacles is not within the power or control of the landlord, as could arise, for example, where it is a function of a management company to provide such a service.
Following the enactment of the 2009 Act, local authorities have a strengthened, updated legislative and regulatory framework available to them that provides for the issuing of improvement notices and prohibition notices where landlords are in breach of their obligations under the regulations. Fines for continuing non-compliance with the regulations have also been significantly increased.
The issue of overcrowded houses is dealt with in Part IV of the Housing Act 1966. Under that Act, a housing authority may request information from the owner or occupier of a house such as will allow that authority to determine if a house can be deemed to be overcrowded, having regard to section 63 of the Act. The housing authority may serve notice on the owner of a house specifying the maximum number of persons that may occupy a house without causing overcrowding and, where the owner of a house is causing or permitting the house to be overcrowded, may require the owner to desist from causing or permitting such overcrowding within a period not exceeding 21 days. Any person who neglects or refuses to comply with these requirements is guilty of an offence.