Annex A – Meeting the Tolerable Standard
A.1 Private rented houses (in common with all other houses in Scotland) are subject to the Tolerable Standard. Any privately let house failing to meet the Tolerable Standard can be raised in an application by a private tenant to the First-tier Tribunal.
A.2 Section 13(1)(h) of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 requires that private landlords must be satisfied that any house they rent to tenants is fit for the tenants to live in. They should be confident that the house meets the Tolerable Standard, the minimum quality standard which applies to all houses in Scotland.
A.3 The Tolerable Standard is set out in sections 85-87 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987. It is a condemnatory standard and any house which falls below the Tolerable Standard is considered to be unacceptable for people to live in. Local authorities have a statutory duty and specific powers to deal with houses that fall below the Tolerable Standard. Local authorities sometimes refer to this as "BTS housing" (Below Tolerable Standard).
Tolerable Standard criteria
A.4 The Tolerable Standard defines the elements of a house which are considered fundamental to its functioning as a home. It focuses mainly on the building itself, and does not extend to internal decoration, furniture and household appliances. A house meets the Tolerable Standard if it complies with all these criteria:
- It is structurally stable;
- It is substantially free from rising or penetrating damp;
- It has satisfactory provision for natural and artificial lighting, for ventilation and for heating;
- It has satisfactory thermal insulation;
- It has an adequate piped supply of wholesome water available within the house;
- It has a sink provided with a satisfactory supply of both hot and cold water within the house;
- It has a water closet or waterless closet available for the exclusive use of the occupants of the house and suitably located within the house;
- It has a fixed bath or shower and a wash-hand basin, each provided with a satisfactory supply of both hot and cold water and suitably located within the house;
- It has an effective system for the drainage and disposal of foul and surface water;
- In the case of a house having a supply of electricity, it complies with the relevant requirements in relation to the electrical installations for the purposes of that supply;
- It has satisfactory facilities for the cooking of food within the house;
- It has satisfactory access to all external doors and outbuildings; and
- It has an interlinked system of fire and smoke alarms and adequate carbon monoxide alarms.
A.5 The Scottish Government developed guidance for local authorities on the Tolerable Standard, which provides more detailed information. Additional guidance was published in 2019 to cover the new elements for fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Under section 86(1A) of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 says that regard must be had to this guidance in construing the element of the Tolerable Standard.
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