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Landlord rules in force next month “flawed and unworkable”

A prominent lettings agency has hit out at the latest changes to safety regulations that private landlords must comply with or risk prosecution.

The government-issued Repairing Standard Guidance sets repair requirements for landlords in Scotland’s private sector with the latest revisions due to become law on March 1 this year - that’s under two weeks away.

But Jonathan Gordon, managing director of Clan Gordon agency - which manages more than 650 rental properties across Edinburgh - describes the latest regulations as having ‘major flaws’.


Gordon says two of the requirements – to replace lead water pipes and install electrical safety equipment – have either changed with not enough time to get the work done or are unclear on precisely what work needs completing to meet the criteria.

Clan Gordon is now lobbying the Scottish Government to push back the deadline so landlords can get clarity on the rules, which also include new requirements on food preparation spaces, fixed heating systems and common doors.

“There are two major problems with the new guidance on lead pipework – guidance which was not even in the first iteration of the guidance when it came out in March 2023” explains Gordon.

“They state that water supply pipes in privately rented homes need to be free of lead from the boundary stopcock to the kitchen tap. In a house, that’s something you can often easily identify and changing the pipes doesn’t cause a lot of disruption. However, legislation says there must be no lead solder or fittings either, which means, because lead solder continued to be used legally until 1987 and illegally after that time, you still can’t be sure it is lead-free because lead solder looks identical to lead-free solder.

“In tenement buildings built prior to 1970 the communal main risers – the vertical pipes that allow fresh water to rise from lower floors to upper floors – will invariably be made from lead. So, replacing these will be a logistical nightmare.

“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 has also challenged the testing procedures for lead in water. 

Previous guidance asked tenants to not use their water supply for 30 minutes before drawing a sample for testing. But re-issued guidance removed this stipulation and instead says to follow instructions from the testing labs which typically recommend a period of 12 hours with no usage before taking the sample.

He adds: “Quite apart from the fact that they can’t practically ask everyone in a tenement block to not fill a kettle or flush their toilet for 12 hours, if the tester has previously used the old guidance and drawn a sample after 30 minutes, there is a chance it has given a false result and will need retesting.

“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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  • icon
    • A JR
    • 15 February 2024 08:38 AM

    Utterly absurd. The SNP is busy reinforcing its incompetence.

    Peter Why Do I Bother

    Not long to go before the are fired into oblivion....



    Unfortunately more than half of Scottish voters think they're better off under the SNP as they're told they've benefited from a rent and eviction freeze and pay less tax than in the rest of the UK.

    They're too thick to realise they have been conned on both fronts, with Scottish rents rising fast and the maximum tax "saving" is £20 per annum.

    Like the rest of the UK, the top 1% of earners pay 30% of all income tax collected, but unlike the rest, the top 11% of Scottish earners pay 65% of all income tax collected, leaving the bottom 89% to pay the remaining 35% - with most SNP voters claiming benefits and paying nothing.

    There used to be a clamour for "No taxation without representation". I would change it to "No representation without taxation"!

  • icon

    How ridiculous, but then that is expected in Scotland these days. As Peter says, they will suffer come the election. Sadly Labour will replace them so Scotland will go from one loony party to another. 😟 Scotland deserves better.


    See my post immediately above. The SNP are still likely to have the vast majority of Scottish seats with Labour stealing votes from disgruntled Tories (who don't want independence) rather than from ignorant SNP voters - who think voting for independence is just like supporting the Scottish football or rugby teams, and not voting for economic mayhem!

  • icon

    How do these idiots ever get elected . Not Just Scotland .

    John  Adams

    They promise the sheeple, free lemonade fountains and chocolate trees. That's how, you create envy and hate and whip up a bit of division, it's how Adolf got into power. The SNP acheived it by feeding on the historical hatred of the English, you blame England for everything, Tooth Decay, Drug Addiction, The Weather it's all down to the English, and you can turn that Hatred into votes.

  • John  Adams

    Presumably these looney tunes rules won't apply to properties owned by the local authorities...

    This is the problem when you have people in office, that have no actual qualficiations in the nonsense they are proposing. The happy clappy campaingners are incapable of comprehending the outcomes of what they propose. Scotland is turning into Canda.

  • Des Mond

    Plenty of rows of terraces served by a continuous lead pipe under the floors via little gaps in the party walls, with the only external isolation such that all of the row is on or off. How is this getting replaced?
    Tenants can escape lead pipes by serving notice to quit, however I recall a recent political drive to ensure nobody can escape from fluoride!

  • icon

    There is nothing wrong with lead pipes leave them alone far better than anything you are going to replace them with. Properly joined originally and sweated jointed and wiped. How many did I do back in the day with brass feral coated with solder buffed with linnet cloth then build up the joint with
    stick of lead metal and wiped with wiping cloth and talcum. I would like to see those green horn Regulators do it, the pipes are flexible and virtually trouble free even after 100 years no hope of lead poisoning either because a coating of lime scale has formed a lining on inside surface of the pipe so the water is not even in contact with the pipes. Leave them alone.



    Unfortunately Scottish water is usually soft with little furring up of pipes, especially cold water pipes.

    Plastic is regarded as safer but nanoplastics might change that view in future.

  • Sarah Fox-Moore

    As always the answer is sell up & get out. Sorry Renters. Enjoy your flea infested B,&B 30 miles away from where you want to live.

  • icon

    LL's need to sell up to owner occupiers as many properties as they can and get out of PRS. Just to prove the PRS under councils, SNP is impossible and unworkable. Let someone else sort out the stupid replacement of lead pipes. Totally it is the liability of the council's, as it is beneficial for the tenants, they care about.


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