February 15, 2024 8:16 am

Insert Lead Generation
Nikka Sulton

A prominent lettings agency strongly criticizes the impending changes to safety regulations that private landlords in Scotland must adhere to under the government’s Repairing Standard Guidance. The revised guidelines, slated to become law on March 1, bring forth new repair requirements for landlords in the private sector. These changes are raising concerns within the industry, with landlords facing the risk of prosecution if they fail to comply.

As the deadline approaches in less than two weeks, the lettings agency emphasizes the urgency for landlords to familiarize themselves with the updated Repairing Standard Guidance. The revisions aim to enhance safety measures for tenants, but landlords are expressing reservations about potential challenges in meeting the new requirements and the impact on their properties.

Jonathan Gordon, managing director of Clan Gordon agency, overseeing 650+ rental properties in Edinburgh, criticizes the latest regulations, citing significant flaws. Specifically, he highlights issues with the requirements related to replacing lead water pipes and installing electrical safety equipment.

According to Gordon, changes in these requirements and unclear specifications make it challenging for landlords to complete the necessary work within the given timeframe. The concerns raised by Gordon point to practical challenges landlords may face in adhering to the new regulations.

Clan Gordon is urging the Scottish Government to extend the deadline, seeking clarity on rules that involve lead pipework, a component not initially outlined in the March 2023 guidance. Jonathan Gordon highlights two significant issues with the lead pipework guidelines, emphasizing the need for additional time for landlords to understand and comply with the evolving requirements.

The lobbying effort aims to address challenges related to food preparation spaces, fixed heating systems, and common doors, providing landlords with the necessary information and time to align with the revised regulations.

The regulation mandates lead-free water supply pipes in rental homes, challenging in tenements built before 1970 with communal main risers typically made of lead. Identifying lead solder in pipes poses a challenge due to its visual similarity to lead-free solder, further complicating compliance efforts.

The legislation, covering pipes from the boundary stopcock to the kitchen tap, presents logistical difficulties, especially in older buildings where replacing communal main risers becomes a complex task. The intricacies of these requirements raise practical challenges for landlords seeking compliance with the lead-free water supply standards.

“They’re often embedded in bathroom walls which would mean ripping those out in every property and running a new mains riser up the stairwell. That’s a significant, disruptive, time-consuming job, with no local council grants available to help with the cost. Who can get that done in four weeks?

“Our view is that landlords, especially in older tenement buildings, are heavily penalised by this new rule. We feel the rules on lead in water should be part of the Tolerable Standard so that all owners are required to comply. Not only is the government trying to get landlords to solve a problem affecting the whole community, but they are making it unlikely to have any impact on the amount of lead as it will be virtually impossible in most tenements to get common agreement. Our clients already find it almost impossible to get common agreement on important shared repairs such as leaking roofs or unsafe stonework let alone an expensive improvement like this.” 

Gordon also challenges the testing procedures for lead in water, highlighting a shift from the previous 30-minute water non-usage requirement to the updated guidance recommending a 12-hour period without usage before sampling. This poses practical challenges, especially in tenement blocks, where it is impractical to request residents to refrain from water use for an extended period. Additionally, the potential for false results due to inconsistencies in testing practices necessitates careful consideration and possible retesting, introducing uncertainties in the compliance process.

“So, tenants looking to protect their children from the harmful effects of lead may take false comfort from the standard and not filter their water or take other precautions they otherwise might have.

“No matter what process we follow to try and ensure clients’ properties are compliant with the standard, surely the Scottish Government must accept that this is impossible to achieve in a few weeks? Scottish Water is unable to take samples in bulk due to workload. The council-owned lab is closed for two weeks in February.”



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