In March this year the Scottish Government published its most recent updates to the Repairing Standards guidance for private landlords in Scotland and whilst the majority of the changes were welcomed, a specific section covering lead pipe testing has caused confusion for landlords and has prompted the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) to seek clarity from the Scottish Government.

What is the Repairing Standard?

In order to ensure that properties available for private rent in Scotland meet certain safety and condition standards, the Repairing Standard was originally enforced in 2007 by the Scottish Government and new measures and elements have been added and amended over time. All landlords in Scotland are legally bound to ensure their property meets the Repairing Standard at the start of a tenancy and at all times during a tenancy and is the absolute minimum level of repair that a property must achieve to be rented privately.

The new updates which come into effect in March 2024, cover an array of amendments such as food storage and preparation areas in kitchens, access to common parts, ensuring that there is a fixed heating system in place, and requirements for lead pipe testing.

The specific section (D20) of the guidance states: 

“Lead pipes and lead lined storage tanks or fittings should not be present in the water supply of any privately rented property from the boundary stopcock to the kitchen tap. This includes:

  • Drinking water outlets;
  • Pipework to drinking water outlets;
  • Water storage tanks within the dwelling; and
  • Water storage tanks in the loft space, including any common storage tanks located in tank rooms or in the roof space”

According to SAL what follows in section D24; Water should be tested at all outlets where water may be consumed as lead may be present anywhere in the building’s plumbing.”, is the source of confusion and what prompted them to follow up with the Scottish Government directly to offer some clarity. 

An update from SAL was published on 26th September 2023:

“Following further correspondence the government has now advised that landlords only need to test for the presence of lead at any outlets between the boundary stopcock and the kitchen tap. A test result of about 3 micrograms or more per litre indicates that some lead is present in the plumbing. Landlords should then identify the location of lead pipes and arrange for any found between the boundary stopcock and the kitchen tap to be replaced.

This amended guidance means that for most properties the only outlet which needs to be tested for lead is the kitchen tap. This overrides previous guidance to also test outlets at the bath, basin and utility room. These outlets would only need to be tested if they are located between the boundary stopcock and the kitchen tap.”

Take a look at our guidance to Lead in Drinking Water here.

You can also read the full Repairing standard guidance for landlords from the Scottish Government click here.