Decent homes - a sensible, straightforward solution
NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle on the simple changes that could streamline landlords’ workloads and demonstrate they are meeting the necessary safety standards.
Many landlords will have issued yet another deep sigh when the Government announced plans to expand the Decent Homes Standard from the social sector to the PRS, with the promise of yet more demands of us compliant landlords, while the rogues get off scot-free.
With more than 168 regulations concerning standards in privately rented homes already - many of which duplicate each other – we believe it would be insanity for the Government to introduce more.
So what is the alternative?
This week we at the NRLA answered this question by releasing our own plans for a new Decent Homes Standard for the PRS.
I can assure you now, our plans will NOT ask landlords to comply with yet more regulation. What we are proposing is a simple way to streamline the system by which landlords prove compliance with their existing legal requirements, with the introduction of a single document – the Property Passport.
‘Yet more documentation’, I hear you cry, yet no…… All the information needed for the new passport will already be held by compliant landlords, meaning there will be no extra bureaucracy and red tape for those doing things right, while allowing those renting out homes illegally to be held to account. What it would do is to provide a single place to upload this information, enabling that vast majority of compliant landlords to show clearly that they are meeting all their legal obligations.
How would the new system work?
The Property Passport will help landlords prove their homes are safe and in good repair, while offering potential tenants the opportunity to check homes are meeting the correct safety standards.
The passport, which would exist online, would include:
- Details of any work or improvements carried out to the property
- Copies of all the current documentation the landlord has to present to their tenant already such as gas safety and energy performance certificates.
Landlords will be responsible for ensuring they have the required information and would self-certify that they are compliant. Local authorities, for their part, will be permitted to carry-out spot checks to verify the passport is a true record of the state of the property, keeping on their toes those landlords who bring the sector into disrepute.
The Government’s proposals to extend Decent Homes form part of its Renters’ Reform agenda however it is positive news that Ministers are listening to what we have to say on this.
According to official statistics, the vast majority of private landlords already provide decent housing. In all 88 per cent of private rented properties in England have none of the most serious ‘Category One’ hazards whilst almost 94 per cent have no damp problems.
Most,(83 per cent) private renters are satisfied with their accommodation, a higher proportion than in the social rented sector.
We have now met with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Private Rented Sector (APPG) to share our proposals – something you can read more about here.
For us, the key points are that the Property Passport system is easy to implement, easy to understand and will protect compliant landlords as well as tenants. Any changes need to be tailored to the PRS and must not be reliant on additional burdens.
The whole basis of our plans is to make it easier for the vast majority of compliant landlords to prove to tenants what they already do, namely providing decent and safe housing. Those who do not would have no option other than to shape up or ship out.
To download the full report click here.