In March 2023, the Scottish Government announced a series of updates to the existing Repairing Standard that will be enforceable from 1st March 2024.
As part of these updates, private landlords must ensure that their property or properties have a satisfactory and adequate supply of drinking water. This supply must also comply with water quality regulations and have no more than 10 micrograms of lead per litre of water.
A new standard of 5 micrograms of lead per litre of water will be required to be met by 2036. However, the World Health Organisation has stated that there is no safe level for lead in drinking water.
To ensure compliance with this new guidance, landlords who own properties built before 1970 should test drinking water outlets for lead. If unsuitable levels of lead are found in the water supply, the source must be traced, and any lead tanks or pipework need to be removed or replaced.
If there is lead in the water supply to your property and the source of the lead is confined to the individual property, the removal and replacement of tanks or pipework would be an individual repair. However, if the source is traced to the common areas of the building, this is likely to be considered a common or mutual repair, requiring the other owners in the building to be informed and give consent for the work to go ahead.
It is important to note that the updates to the Repairing Standard also include guidance on consent to work on common parts which states that where a private rented property is a flat in a tenement it does not fail the Repairing Standard if work otherwise needed to comply cannot be carried out because a majority of owners have refused consent to carry out the work.
Check out our guide on organising common repairs to ensure you follow proper procedures if you need to replace lead tanks or pipework in the common areas of your building. When organising this work, contact Scottish Water for further guidance. If you require a plumber to replace lead pipework, search for a licensed plumber on the WaterSafe UK website.
If you are a landlord and own a property that was built before 1970, ensure you get the water supply tested. You can find out more about testing for lead in water from Scottish Water here.
For more information about lead in water in the Repairing Standard guidance click here.