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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.
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:
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.
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
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.
The consultation suggests that a Decent Homes Standard would require all private rental properties in England to meet the following criteria:
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.
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.
The consultation outlines its suggestions for exemptions from the Decent Homes Standard for things like:
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.
The in-depth consultation also asks for stakeholders’ views on:
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.
Conor Shilling is a Copywriter at Simply Business with over two years’ experience in the insurance industry. A trained journalist, Conor has worked as a professional writer for 10 years. His previous experience includes writing for several leading online property trade publications. Conor specialises in the buy-to-let market, landlords, and small business finance.
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