Trip the Light Fantastic
How to Maximise natural light in your Property…
On the 20th March 2019 the long waited Fitness for Human Habitation Bill comes into law, shining a new spotlight on conditions in tenanted properties. As most agents will know, the Bill leans heavily on the Human Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) and the 29 hazards it lists to illuminate what makes a property fit or unfit to live in – one of which is lighting.
At first glance a landlord’s lighting obligations seem simple. Under the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1985, a landlord is expected to “keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling for the supply of water, gas, electricity and for sanitation”. But, under the new Bill, a landlord’s responsibility goes far beyond just ensuring all lights in a property are in safe and working order because it focuses not just on artificial light, but on the natural light within a property as well.
Over recent years, there’s a been a new emphasis placed on natural light, with studies showing that a lack of it can lead to poor sleep patterns, anxiety, seasonal affective disorder and depression. In order to improve tenants’ mental health, the new Bill therefore decrees that all properties should have access to a certain amount of natural light.
So how do you know if your property has enough Natural Light?
The Bill doesn’t define exactly how much is enough, but a good basic rule of thumb is to determine whether or not a room can be used safely during daylight hours without artificial lighting. If it can, it has enough natural light. While this can’t apply to every room in every property in every case, it should apply to the majority of the living spaces: bedrooms, sitting rooms etc.
What are the best ways to maximize natural light?
For landlords looking to maximise the amount of natural light in a property, the following simple steps should make a big difference:
Trim back all hedges, trees and vegetation around the property. Making sure all windows and doorways are clear of plants and shrubbery will not only increase the amount of natural light getting in, but will also make the property look infinitely smarter as well.
Light, neutral decoration internally will make a place seem lighter and brighter (and will find favour with most tenants too). Strategically placed mirrors will also bounce the light around the room.
Those willing to make a larger investment could consider installing new, larger windows or skylights. This is quite a drastic step and should be unnecessary in most cases. It will, however, maximize both light and property value, which is always worth thinking about in the long term.
For more information on your obligations regarding both natural and artificial light, please download our FREE E-book, ‘HHSRS quick guide to lighting’ here.