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Quarter of rental homes don’t meet decent homes standards

2-minute read

Housing in Leeds
Conor Shilling

Conor Shilling

3 January 2023

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Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of private rental homes don’t meet decent homes standards, according to the latest figures from the government’s English Housing Survey (EHS) 2020-21.

Read on to find out what this means for landlords and how private rentals compare to other types of property.

Quarter of landlords’ properties are ‘non-decent’

In 2020, 15 per cent of homes (3.5 million) in England failed to meet the Decent Homes Standard, according to the English Housing Survey.

The highest proportion of non-decent homes (23 per cent) is recorded in the private rental sector, compared to 14 per cent for owner-occupied homes and 11 per cent for social housing.

For a home to be considered ‘decent’, it must:

  • have no Category 1 hazards under the Housing Health and Safety System (HHSRS)
  • be in a ‘reasonable’ state of repair
  • have modern facilities and services
  • be 'reasonably' warm

Rental reforms and the Decent Homes Standard

At the moment, meeting the Decent Homes Standard is only mandatory for social housing.

However, introducing a Decent Homes Standard for private rental homes is one of the government’s rental reforms outlined in its Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper.

In October 2022, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government launched a consultation on a Decent Homes Standard for private rentals.

As well as setting out how landlords’ properties could meet a minimum standard, the consultation outlines details around enforcement.

Currently, it’s the responsibility of local councils to identify sub-standard rental properties. However, the consultation suggests making it a legal duty for landlords to make sure properties meet the Decent Homes Standard.

The results of the consultation are yet to be published but an update is expected in 2023.

What about serious hazards and damp in rental properties?

The EHS found that 13 per cent of private rental homes had a category 1 hazard under the HHSRS.

This compares to nine per cent of owner-occupied homes and five per cent of social rented homes.

A category 1 hazard is the most serious type of hazard, which could be:

  • excess cold or heat
  • damp
  • overcrowding

According to the EHS, damp is more common in private rental homes – found in 10 per cent of these properties. This is compared to damp found in five per cent of social housing and two per cent of owner-occupied homes.

You can read more about the HHSRS in our guide to becoming a landlord.

Energy efficiency in rentals – what does the data say?

The EHS also looks at the energy efficiency of homes in England.

The proportion of English homes with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of A to C increased from 14 per cent in 2010 to 46 per cent in 2020.

During the same period, the proportion of homes with an EPC rating of E to G fell from 39 per cent to 10 per cent.

Since 2018, it’s been a legal requirement for rental properties to have an EPC rating of E or above. However, the government is considering increasing the minimum standard to C.

EHS data shows that only 42 per cent of private rentals had an EPC rating of A to C in 2020. This means that if EPC rules for landlords do change, over 50 per cent of landlords would need to make improvements to their properties.

The government recently extended its ECO+ scheme. This means landlords who own properties with low EPC ratings can claim up to £1,500 towards insulation.

Useful guides for buy-to-let landlords

Do landlords need more support to improve housing conditions? Let us know in the comments below.

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Conor Shilling

Written by

Conor Shilling

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.

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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