This month, Shelter and British Gas launched a joint scheme to improve the quality of Britain’s rental properties.
The Better Homes For Britain scheme aims to raise the standards of one million homes in the private rented sector over the course of the next five years, by addressing some of the most fundamental issues by which properties and tenants are affected.
The number of households in the private rented sector has risen by some 75 per cent since 2001, and Shelter expects that almost a quarter of all UK households will be privately rented by 2025. Of the 3.62 million homes currently in the private rented sector, the government estimates that around 1.4 million, or almost 40 per cent, do not meet the standards required in order to be deemed a “decent home.”
Shelter is concerned that as the sector grows, so too will the number of properties that do not attain this minimum level. The Better Homes For Britain scheme is one of the ways in which the charity is hoping to address this problem.
Shelter and British Gas will conduct a large-scale study of the private rented sector, looking at the standards of individual properties. They will then make policy recommendations to the government.
But the Better Homes For Britain scheme also aims to provide practical assistance to landlords, to ensure that their properties meet the minimum standard for rented homes.
In order for a home to be considered legally “decent”, it must:
• Be in a reasonable state of repair
• Have reasonably modern facilities and services
• Provide a reasonable degree of comfort.
Properties must meet all of these criteria; a failure in one area will mean that the property is not deemed decent.
It is as yet unclear what that Better Homes For Britain assistance will involve, or when it will begin. But Shelter have identified the three most common reasons why rented properties fail to meet the standard – and landlords can take action in these areas now.
• Inadequate thermal comfort
Some 605,000 rented homes are too cold. Landlord should ensure that boilers and heating systems are working properly, and that properties are adequately insulated. As winter draws in, read our checklist to keep your property safe and warm.
• Inadequate health and safety
Health and safety has a bad name in some quarters, but according to the government around 856,000 properties do not meet an acceptable standard on this front. Landlords should ensure, for example, that electrical systems and boilers are properly installed and regularly inspected, noting that there are severe penalties in cases where this does not happen.
• State of disrepair
Around 322,000 private rented properties are deemed to be in a general state of disrepair. The most common issues include broken heating systems and poor heating. Again, regular property inspections can help to combat these issues, by ensuring that small problems are fixed before they become unmanageable.
Look out for more on the Better Homes For Britain scheme on Simply Business soon.