With the Government’s levelling up white paper announcing plans to extend the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector NRLA chief executive warns ministers landlords will need support.
Over the last few years, landlords have got used to the sands shifting beneath their feet.
Changes to mortgage interest relief, stamp duty and wear and tear allowances have all had an impact, as has the introduction of various licensing schemes up and down the country.
Landlords’ ability to regain possession of their homes going forward is still up in the air, with the Government yet to publish its white paper on rental reform – and now we are being told that housing standards within the PRS could be set to change.
Don’t get me wrong; everyone, whether a social or private tenant, deserves to live in a safe, warm, and secure home..
However, the NRLA does have concerns as to whether the existing Decent Homes Standard is the right vehicle for this, following the announcement in the white paper.
Legislation was introduced in 2006 to bring all homes in the social sector up to a Decent Homes Standard– based on metrics including the age of fixtures and fittings and room sizes.
At present, this standard, designed specifically for the social rented sector, does not reflect many of the differences between it and the private rented sector. This includes the types and age of properties in each.
Standards in the PRS are covered by the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), which is itself currently under review.
Any standard needs to be tailored to the private rented sector, and I have been speaking to both the housing minister and shadow housing minister to make just this point.
What is key is whether a property is fit for purpose, not arbitrary figures – for example, how long a bathroom has been in place for.
While we are still awaiting the outcome of the Government’s consultation on minimum EPC ratings, it is looking likely that landlords will need to spend up to £10,000 per property on energy efficiency improvements to meet the new minimum standards.
If the Government is to move the goalposts regarding property standards – which could be anything from the age of kitchens and bathrooms to minimum room sizes – then there could be a potentially major impact on landlords’ businesses.
A review into the plans is currently underway, and in my discussions with Government, I have made the point that landlords need encouragement if they are to comply with yet more new legislation.
This should include grant cash to make improvements above and beyond those covered by current legislation regarding standards in the PRS.
The need for a robust, vibrant private rented sector has never been greater -with increasing numbers of families, younger and older people relying on the sector for a home.
If landlords are to stay in the sector and continue to invest, then the government needs to support them to make any improvements needed.
We will work with the Government to ensure whatever standards expected of the sector are proportionate, fit for purpose and can be properly enforced.
Without this, criminal landlords will continue to undermine the reputation of the vast majority of responsible landlords doing the right thing.
We will shortly be publishing our proposals for what a cross-tenure Decent Homes Standard should look like. Please keep an eye on our news pages and social media channels to find out more.
About the Author
Ben Beadle is chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), the UK’s largest trade body for landlords.
A landlord himself since the age of 20, Ben started out as property manager before working his way up through the ranks at Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS).
He was then Operations Director at property management business Touchstone before overseeing the merger of the National Residential Landlords Association (NLA) and Residential Landlords Association (RLA) to create the new trade body earlier this year.
His key aims as head of the organisation are to strengthen the voice of landlords in Westminster and Cardiff, to improve the reputation of landlords in the media and to support members through information, training and accreditation.
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