Govt opens consultation on buy-to-let standards

Govt opens consultation on buy-to-let standards

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has launched its consultation on introducing a ‘decent homes standard’ to the private rented sector.

If introduced, the standards will place greater obligations on landlords to make sure their property meets a “reasonable standard”, with regulations around heating, facilities and serious hazards like “major” damp and fire risks under consideration. 

The consultation is seeking input from renters, landlords, councils and housing groups on what standards should be introduced and how they should be enforced. 

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Housing secretary, Greg Clark said he wanted to see a thriving rented sector, but “that does not mean that tenants should have to suffer homes that are not of decent standard”.

The move follows the government’s publication in June of its fairer private rented sector white paper, which will form part of the renters reform bill. 

At the time, industry members expressed fear that reform could drive buy-to-let landlords out of the market and inadvertently shrink the supply of decent rental accommodation. 

But the government has said the reforms were targeted at a minority of landlords, with the majority in the private rented sector “already meeting high standards”.

According to the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, over a fifth of the 4.4mn privately rented homes in England are in poor condition. 

The introduction of a decent homes standard would bring regulation of the private sector more in line with the social housing sector, which has been subject to a decent homes standard since 2001. 

Since June, the government said it has undertaken “a range of stakeholder engagement” on how to apply a decent homes standard to the private rented sector.

Commenting on the consultation, National Residential Landlords Association chief executive Ben Beadle said the government should focus its efforts on simplifying existing laws.

“Standards in the private rented sector are improving. That is why private renters are more likely to be satisfied with their accommodation than those in the social rented sector,” he said.

“The government’s plans should focus on making it easier for private landlords, tenants and councils to understand what is expected of them by simplifying the almost 170 laws already affecting the sector. The plans need to also recognise crucial differences between private and social rented housing, including in the age and types of properties in each.”

Beadle added: “In the end, all the laws in the world will do nothing without improved enforcement against the minority of landlords who tarnish the reputation of the responsible, law-abiding majority. That requires properly resourced councils tackling the criminals and rogues, whilst allowing the responsible majority to easily prove their home is safe and compliant.”

Landlords have already expressed concern over the regulations around energy efficiency, with the government proposing that from 2025 all new rental properties should have an EPC rating of at least a C.