The government is planning to introduce legally binding standards of quality for privately rented homes in England – and they’re asking for input from property professionals.
Landlords, letting agents and industry bodies are all invited to take part in an official consultation into a future Decent Homes Standard. Under the government’s suggested framework, homes would have to be free of Category 1 hazards (the most serious kind) under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System; be in a reasonable state of repair; have reasonable facilities such as kitchen and bathroom facilities; and maintain a reasonably comfortable indoor temperature.
Respondents are being asked whether they agree with the proposed rules, how clear they think they are, and how easy they will be to follow. The government has also asked how the Decent Homes Standard should be enforced, leaving open the possibility of rent repayment orders, banning orders against landlords, civil penalties such as fines, and even prison sentences.
What rules are already in place?
Privately rented homes already have to meet various quality standards. Under existing laws, councils must take action against landlords when they identify Category 1 hazards in privately rented homes. Since 2018, landlords have also been required to keep their properties fit for human habitation throughout a tenancy, and rules on topics like energy efficiency and smoke alarm provision are in place too.
But while the quality of housing has got better over the last decade, there is still room for improvement. The most recent English Housing Survey found that 21% of privately rented homes were non-decent and 12% contained at least one Category 1 hazard, more than either owner-occupied or socially rented homes.
To have your say, visit the government’s consultation website. Submissions will stay open until 11:45pm on 14 October.
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