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Government report on the Private Rented Sector (PRS)

The report found that housing conditions within the private rented sector is struggling.

The English housing survey had estimated that in 2019 around 23% of privately rented homes did not meet the decent homes standard, which is around 1.1 million properties.

The decent homes standard is the standard set for social housing property conditions. The fact that PRS homes are more likely to have at least one category one hazard under the Housing Health & Safety Rating System.

The report shows that the private rented sector compared to social housing is in a more degraded point regarding housing condition.

Recently, the NRLA published a document titled Not under-regulated but underenforced: the legislation affecting private landlords in England.

The property condition in England is governed by regulations introduced over the years, such as the Smoke Alarm Regulations 2015 and the Electrical Safety Standards 2020.

Although having regulations governing property conditions over a variety of years isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the constant updating and redrafting causing new regulations every year can lead to confusion by key members of the PRS (landlords, tenants and council enforcement officers). The additional regulations has brought with them additional expense to landlords and with that, a loss of revenue.

In a report by the NRLA found here, it found that repairs and improvements to attain the level of energy efficiency required by the government by 2025 will cost on average, around £7,500 per property.

With regulations aimed to be in place for 2025, the government is therefore expecting landlords to pay on average 2 years income in the next 4 years for energy improvements.

This may be forward thinking given the fact that many landlords have had to carry the pandemic, such as being expected to accept lower rent. The average annual net income for landlords is around £4,500.

Therefore, over regulation and the regulation themselves, amongst other factors have caused a reduction in the overall housing quality within the sector. While there are landlords who do not perform their repairing responsibilities and they should be punished, this problem can’t be only left at the door of landlords.

Since 2018 the government has admitted that the system needs updating, but there hasn’t been any significant changes made to the process. An update of the risks as well as a new system would make it easier for landlords to understand.

One reason that local authorities have a hard time using enforcement powers is a lack of resources.

Enforcement powers are spread over various regulations and can be difficult for local authorities to understand without training – which is frequently unaffordable.

This has led to what can be described as ‘the postcode lottery of local authorities’ – some local authorities using their enforcement powers regularly against landlords whilst others not using any of their civil penalty powers.

To summarise the report

In 2017/18:

· 89% of Local Authorities reported they had not used the new powers

· 53% reported that they did not have a policy in place to use the powers

· 18% of Local Authorities reported they had not served a single Improvement Notice.

Finally, the balance between landlord and tenant needs addressing, many tenants may be unaware of their rights and what responsibilities the landlord has in order to repair the property during the tenancy. Whilst section 21 ‘no fault evictions’ are in the process of being removed from the private rented sector, the lack of knowledge over tenant’s rights and rent rises will be ongoing issues that the government will need to tackle as well.

You will find the full report via this page.

This report was paraphrased from Landlord Law report and any similarities with Landlord Law report are explained in this acknowledgement to Landlord Law.

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