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Rental reforms: landlords to input on proposed Decent Homes Standard

4-minute read

Tenant in cosy living room
Conor Shilling

Conor Shilling

21 September 2022

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Landlords have until 14 October to respond to the consultation on the Decent Homes Standard, one of the major rental reforms proposed by the government.

Read on to find out what the Decent Homes Standard could mean for you, how to respond to the consultation, and why it’s important for landlords to give their views.

What is the Decent Homes Standard?

A Decent Homes Standard would make it a legal requirement for landlords to make sure their property meets a minimum set of criteria on things like:

  • efficient heating
  • suitable facilities
  • limiting serious fire and damp risks

The purpose of a Decent Homes Standard in the private rental sector is to reduce the number of homes in poor condition.

Figures from the English Housing Survey show that of the 4.4 million privately rented homes in England, over a fifth are in poor condition. This means over 20 per cent of tenants are spending a third of their income on substandard housing.

It’s also estimated that hazardous conditions in the private rental sector cost the NHS around £340 million a year.

The government says that the reputation of the majority of landlords, who make sure their properties are safe and decent, is being tarnished by those who don’t.

There’s been a Decent Homes Standard in social housing since 2001, with poor quality housing in this sector reducing by a third over the last decade.

How can landlords respond to the Decent Homes Standard Consultation?

The government’s six-week consultation, launched on 2 September, wants views from landlords, tenants, and other rental market stakeholders.

You can respond by completing an online survey or posting a copy of your responses to:

PRS DHS Consultation

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

3rd Floor, 2 Marsham Street



What’s included in the Decent Homes Standard consultation?

Official figures show that the proportion of substandard private rental properties has fallen from 37.2 per cent in 2010 to 21 per cent in 2020.

However, the government says it is ‘unacceptable’ that some renters still live in poor quality homes.

Below is an overview of the key measures covered by the consultation.

Proposed Decent Homes Standard

The consultation suggests that a Decent Homes Standard would require all private rental properties in England to meet the following criteria:

  • the property meets the current minimum standard for housing – this means making sure properties are free of the most serious hazards set out in the housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS)
  • the property is in a reasonable state of repair – to comply, landlords will need to make sure no key structural parts of the property need replacing or repair
  • the property has reasonable facilities and services – this includes an adequate kitchen and bathroom, plus noise insulation and well-sized common areas in flats
  • the property provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort – this means the property will need an efficient heating system that makes it comfortable for tenants

Respondents to the consultation are asked whether they support this proposed standard, how clear it is, whether it would be difficult to meet, and whether the criteria for old buildings should be removed.

Enforcement of a Decent Homes Standard

The consultation says that the current enforcement system places responsibility on local councils to identify substandard rental properties, which encourages some landlords to wait for inspections before making improvements.

As a result, the government is proposing to make it a legal duty on landlords to make sure their property meets the Decent Homes Standard.

Failure to comply would be treated as a criminal offence and landlords could be issued with a civil penalty or prosecution. Non-compliance with the Decent Homes Standard would also be made a banning order offence.

The government proposes that landlords who don’t comply with the Decent Homes Standard could have to repay rent to their tenants for the period when the property was substandard.

Respondents to the consultation are asked whether non-compliance should be a criminal offence, if local councils should be able to issue civil penalties and rent repayment orders, and whether it should be a banning order offence.

Exemptions and registering compliance

The consultation outlines its suggestions for exemptions from the Decent Homes Standard for things like:

  • listed buildings
  • properties bought with sitting tenants
  • properties being let under probate
  • properties with a sudden change of landlord

Another of the government’s proposed rental reforms is to create a digital property portal that will help landlords to demonstrate their compliance to tenants and local authorities.

The consultation suggests that compliance with and exemptions from the Decent Homes Standard are included on the new portal.

It’s also suggested that landlords who provide false or misleading information on the portal could be prosecuted or fined up to £30,000.

What else does the consultation cover?

The in-depth consultation also asks for stakeholders’ views on:

  • how local councils should investigate and report on Decent Homes Standard complaints
  • whether local councils should be given powers to improve properties that don’t meet the minimum standard
  • if legislation should include a clause that states landlords can’t attend local council inspections of their properties
  • whether local councils should be able to provide advice on work for properties that are likely to be seen as poor quality in the near future
  • the scope of the Decent Homes Standard and whether it should apply to all private rental properties
  • the main impacts of introducing a Decent Homes Standard for both tenants and landlords
  • whether a Decent Homes Standard should be phased in or introduced with a grace period for compliance

Why is it important for landlords to respond to the consultation?

The government has described its proposed rental reforms as the ‘biggest shake up’ of the private rented sector in 30 years.

A Simply Business survey found that a third of UK landlords believe that rental reforms are currently the greatest threat to the market, with 20 per cent planning to sell as a result.

Proposals for scrapping Section 21 evictions, encouraging pet ownership, and introducing a Decent Homes Standard are set to change the way many landlords let their properties, while others may need to make urgent improvements.

That’s why it’s beneficial to engage with the government at every opportunity to help shape the rental reforms so that they work for landlords as well as tenants.

Do you think a Decent Homes Standard would improve the private rental sector? Let us know in the comments below.

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Conor Shilling

Written by

Conor Shilling

Conor Shilling is a professional writer with over 10 years’ experience across the property, small business, and insurance sectors. A trained journalist, Conor’s previous experience includes writing for several leading online property trade publications. Conor has worked at Simply Business as a Copywriter for three years, specialising in the buy-to-let market, landlords, and small business finance.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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