Creating a healthy, well-ventilated home is common sense – it will improve your health and quality of life, as explained in this article.
Additionally, it is a legal obligation on behalf of the landlord to guarantee healthy living environments. This is known as the landlords “Duty of Care” to their tenant’s well-being.
The Housing Act and The Home Standard are just two examples of legislation that require regular and systematic assessments of social housing by landlords.
The primary focus of these assessments is to ensure that the conditions of the residential premises are ‘fit for human habitation’.
In this article, we will examine why quality ventilation is important, and what are the responsibilities of the landlord and the preventative solutions that can be taken to stop poor ventilation especially in rented dwellings or social housing.
The health threats posed by poor ventilation in social housing
If key laws and regulations regarding ventilation are not enforced, many residents of social-housing properties may suffer from ‘Toxic Home Syndrome‘.
Toxic Home Syndrome is instigated by the build-up of chemicals, bacteria and other pollutants within the air of your home.
An overwhelming amount of homes – 15.3 million – in the UK are at risk of Toxic Home Syndrome, due to the build-up of moisture and airborne pollutants (VOC’s) from their home’s indoor air.
These VOCs can cause and aggravate headaches, long-lasting colds, chronic asthma and other allergies. Mould is a serious threat to your health and that of your families and is most often caused by condensation and humid indoor conditions.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being.” The proper maintenance of your home’s indoor air quality is essential to every aspect of your health.
We must ask at this stage: How much of the responsibility of maintaining a ‘Healthy Home’ falls to the tenant, and how much to the landlord? Sparks will endeavour to inform you on this subject.
Legal Responsibilities of the Landlord
It is the responsibility of the landlord to maintain a healthy, well-ventilated environment in their rented properties. This is a standard established by the “Duty of Care” precedent, in which landlords have accountability for their tenant’s well-being.
This ‘Duty of Care’ is backed by law, with the Housing Act and Home Standard just two examples of government legislation that support it.
A priority in the eyes of the law is that landlords should ensure ‘Freedom from damp’. In the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1985, this point was made particularly explicit.
Prior to this, the Defective Premises Act 1972, stated that landlords are responsible for ensuring their rented accommodations are ‘habitable’. Under this law, the landlord is accountable for any household work specific to keeping the inhabitants healthy.
The 1972 Act lists a series of what would constitute a ‘lack of fitness’. This included ‘FREEDOM FROM DAMP’ and good ‘VENTILATION’.
The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act of 2018 concentrated on ventilation more thoroughly than The Defective Premises Act 1972.
This important Act was enforced recently and will greatly benefit both private and social renters.
This Homes Act grants renters the right to take their landlords to court if they do not maintain their properties to the necessary standards (e.g. by allowing damp or mould to build up). This law came into enforcement from the 20th of March 2019.
It applies to people who are renting privately, from a housing association or renting from their local council. The Homes Act 2018 applies to any tenancy with a fixed term of fewer than 7 years. You can look here to find out more information about your rights as a tenant.
Airflow and Envirovent – dream solutions for social housing landlords
High-quality ventilation has always been a key priority for landlords across the UK. It is probably the paramount factor in keeping a healthy home for their tenants – to meet their legal obligations.
As such, landlords will be grateful for ventilation solutions manufacturers such as Airflow and Envirovent, who have made countless products that are suitable for social housing.
Envirovent was founded in 1987 and always had a firm eye on the social housing sector. In a statement made in 2017, their Head of Social Housing Sales said:
We have 30 years’ experience in supplying the social housing sector… so we can ensure our customers receive the highest quality service
The Silent fan is just one example of a ventilation solution from Envirovent that landlords will appreciate. This fan meets the Building Regulations – Part F (England), Scottish Building Regulations Section 3 and Part K (Northern Ireland).
What’s more, it has a very clever design, powered by low-energy motors that rest on silent elastic blocks which allow for its incredibly quiet running.
Looking at Airflow, their first big break in the extraction market came in the 1970s with the Loovent. It proved to be a success and has sold more than 2 million units to date. These fans appealed massively to the social housing market.
The product contained many of the features that would inspire future extraction devices from Airflow. The Loovent is a powerful and subtle centrifugal fan with a modular design. It has a small size for ease of installation and maintenance.
Other Airflow products such as the iCON60 fans are also highly suitable for social housing. This is because these fans are designed for efficiency in large areas, for instance, residents lounges.
Then there is the QuietAir range to consider, which was designed to perform at efficient levels of extraction but with minimal sound levels of only 25 dBA.
The Airflow QT100 is a product worth considering if you are ventilating social housing. It has an adjustable humidity and timer, with a delay start of 2 minutes and the ability to run on only 5 watts.
The entire iCON range is useful for this purpose, as they minimise heat loss and back wind, and blend discreetly into any building interior.
Meanwhile, there is the iCONstant which sounds of at a quiet 21dBA, and comes with the option of a humidity sensor to add to its efficiency.
Achieving a ‘Healthy Home’ will make both renters and landlords happy
Today’s laws greatly benefit social housing renters and imbue landlords with more responsibility. A landlord cannot argue a building is old and ‘prone’ to damp and mould.
This would not hold up as a legitimate defence in any UK court. The government has supported retrofit schemes which are being carried out in 2019.
‘PAS2035’ is a recent retrofit standard which will ensure past failures in domestic upgrades are avoided and shall be implemented this year. A key part of this standard is the requirement to install effective ventilation in all properties.
Whether you are a landlord or tenant, it is important you avoid damp as this is a massive impediment to the health of social housing residents. It could also result in serious legal ramifications for landlords.
Investing in smart extraction fan technology is a prudent move for landlords to take. It will help ensure they meet the legal requirements described above in this article.
They have very low running costs, are environmentally-friendly and – most importantly – can achieve a ‘Healthy Home’ for their tenants.