Have Your Say on Decent Homes Standards

Whoever sits in the housing hot seat for Prime Minister Liz Truss’ new government will bring the decent homes standard to bear on buy-to-let properties in England. 

Despite the Tory party’s election of a new leader, the wheels of government have ground on across the summer. For landlords, this means another consultation related to the Fairer Renting white paper

The consultation hopes to end with adopting the decent homes standard that already applies to social housing, spreading to cover the private rental sector as well. 

The consultation asks landlords if their homes should meet a basic standard of repair, have suitable heating and be free from risk of dampness, fire or injury. Minimum standards already apply to buy-to-let and HMO homes.

Role reversal

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 demands landlords ensure homes are fit to live in throughout a tenancy. In the main, the current decent homes standard is policed by councils reacting to complaints. 

The new legislation reverses the roles and demands landlords have a legal duty to ensure their homes maintain a minimum standard. Breaching the standard becomes a criminal offence attracting a civil penalty or court action. Failing to keep to the bar will also ban landlords from renting out homes. 

Councils will track compliance on a new online property portal. Landlords will self-declare that their rental homes meet the standard on the portal. Making a false declaration will also become a criminal offence.

How to take part

Property professionals are invited to respond to the consultation comprising 62 questions. The consultation is open online until October 14, 2022.

“On 16 June 2022, we published A fairer private rented sector – a landmark white paper for the private rented sector – which sets out this government’s commitment to introduce a legally binding Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector for the first time,” said a government spokesman.

“This will improve parity with the social rented sector where there has been a decent homes standard in place since 2001. The system will also be fairer for good landlords by making sure those who do not treat their tenants fairly are no longer able to get away with it, tarnishing the reputation of the sector as a whole.”

What does the standard mean for landlords?

Official data reckons around a fifth of private rented homes fail to meet the decent homes standard. The government expects landlords to upgrade or remove these homes from the rental market.

View Related Handbook Page

Housing Health and Safety Rating System

The Housing Act 2004 places a statutory duty on local authorities to identify hazards and to assess risks to tenants’ health and safety. Local authorities are required to use a system called the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

Landlords’ Responsibilities for Repair and Maintenance

In addition to any repair responsibilities explicitly set out in the tenancy agreement, common law and statute will imply terms to the agreement between landlord and tenant.