Government consults on Decent Homes Standard

The government is consulting on its proposed Decent Homes Standard changes for the private rented sector.

As set out in ‘A fairer private rented sector’ white paper in June, the government proposed that it should be enshrined in law that a home must be free from the most serious health and safety hazards, such as fire risks and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Landlords will be required to ensure they don’t allow homes to fall into disrepair. Kitchens and bathrooms need to be relatively up to date, decent noise insulation needs to be put in place, while homes must be warm and dry.

They shouldn’t be allowed to get too cold in winter, too hot in the summer, or become infested with damp or mould.

With the consultation the government is effectively asking where the minimum standard should lie.

Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, responded by saying existing laws need to be simplified.

He said: “Standards in the private rented sector are improving. That is why private renters are more likely to be satisfied with their accommodation than those in the social rented sector.

“The Government’s plans should focus on making it easier for private landlords, tenants and councils to understand what is expected of them by simplifying the almost 170 laws already affecting the sector. The plans need to also recognise crucial differences between private and social rented housing, including in the age and types of properties in each.

“In the end, all the laws in the world will do nothing without improved enforcement against the minority of landlords who tarnish the reputation of the responsible, law-abiding majority. That requires properly resourced councils tackling the criminals and rogues, whilst allowing the responsible majority to easily prove their home is safe and compliant.”

As it stands a fifth of the 4.4 million homes in the private rented sector in England are deemed as being in “poor condition”. The government has targeted halving this number by 2030.

Avinav Nigam, cofounder and chief operating officer at real estate platform IMMO, said: “Despite rents reaching record highs since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, millions of renters continue to be faced with below par, and sometimes illegal, standards of accommodation.

“The latest English Housing Survey revealed that nearly a million homes for rent pose a significant hazard to the health of residents, which is why today’s consultation launch is most welcomed.

“Regulatory changes and an unfavourable tax regime mean amateur landlords, who make up most of the buy-to-let market, are leaving en masse.

“With huge funding gaps to fill, it’s only right that policymakers now encourage a diversification of ownership structures so that the sector attracts more institutional capital, and the government avoids making the taxpayer foot the bill.

“Larger investors such as pension funds, banks and insurers have long-term vested interests in improving the quality of rental stock, in order to meet ESG criteria, affordability standards, and produce bond-like returns that match liabilities, and by harnessing the power of machine learning and big data, they can identify, acquire and upcycle stock in the most cost and time efficient manner.

“This is a welcome change from policymakers that will help raise living standards in the housing category.”

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