A new set of standards and obligations for private sector landlords in England has been unveiled by the government as part of its ‘levelling-up’ strategy.
Housing secretary, Michael Gove, says the measures are to protect private renters but many landlords, already undertaking £10,000 eco-upgrades to meet the government’s Energy Performance Certificate targets, have greeted the announcement with heavy hearts.
Although the bulk of the proposals are repackaged policies, it’s important for landlords to be aware of the possible implications of this much trailed White Paper.
Levelling-up is Boris Johnson’s flagship policy, a broad spectrum of concepts the government says will target inequality by improving the poorer parts of Britain and ending disparity between the North and South.
The private rental market is large – 4.4 million families rent their homes from a private landlord, representing 19% of all households in England.
However, according to the government’s own levelling-up department, just 17% of privately rented homes in the South East are classed as ‘non-decent’ compared to almost double that figure in Yorkshire and the Humber, hence the need for improvements to end ‘historic injustice’.
Totally new is the potential introduction of a Decent Homes Standard, a system which already exists in the social rented housing sector.
This could include new measures on energy efficiency as well as a minimum standard of fixtures and fittings for furnished accommodation and means private landlords would have to bring their properties up to this prescribed level.
The possible effect of this legislation is that landlords will be required to refit about 800,000 properties falling below this standard to ensure they are ‘safe, warm and in a good state of repair’.
· The introduction of a National Landlords Register. Michael Gove wants this idea to go out to consultation before deciding on the next steps;
· A new right of redress for all tenants in the private sector who have complaints about their accommodation;
· More talk of scrapping Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions to ‘end the unfair situation where renters can be kicked out of their homes for no reason’;
· Fines and bans for landlords who break the rules.
According to Michael Gove, it is only a matter of time before these proposals are enshrined in law.
It is thought likely that the long-awaited Rent Reform Bill will lay out exactly how this is to happen sometime this year (2022) and possibly as early as this Spring.
If you are a landlord and need help with this area of the law, please contact Wards Solicitors’ specialist lawyer, James Murray, who is experienced at resolving disputes involving landlord and tenant relationships.
Phone: 01934 428800