Private sector tenants face ‘postcode lottery’ that exceed the standards of their homes

Renters in the private sector face a “postcode lottery” over the standards of their homes, the chairman of a powerful committee scrutinizes Goverment spending said.

Review made by Dame Meg Hillier chair of Public Accounts Committee (PAC), as a report from National Audit Office (NAO) said the provisions in England ineffective in ensuring the sector is fair to tenants or that housing is safe and secure.

There are around 4.4 million privately rented households in the UK – and the system largely relies on tenants being able to exercise their own rights, the NAO said.

While most renters have a good rental experience, some can become seriously ill due to poor quality housing, financial problems from overcharging, or even homelessness due to poor housing. bad behavior of landlord and agent permitting.

The Department of Leveling, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) does not yet have a blueprint to address the issues tenants face, the NAO added.

Dame Meg Hillier says private tenants face a standard postcode lottery of their home (PA)

(PA Archive)

Dame Meg said: “Private renters face a postcode lottery against the standards of their homes, and the most vulnerable in society are often the ones who suffer. Most.

“The department’s approach to regulation has been too patchy and it has been hampered by a worrying lack of data.

“The department needs to bring some order to the chaos and lay out a clear vision for the private rental market and ensure that the growing number of tenants have a unique prospect of long-term housing. in the private hire sector is better supported.”

The NAO says privately rented properties are less likely to comply with safety requirements than other types of housing and are more likely to be classified as shoddy.

An estimated 13% of privately rented homes (589,000 properties) have at least one hazard one – a serious threat to health and safety – with associated costs to the NHS estimated at £340m each year.

This compares with 10% of owner-occupied homes and 5% of social housing.

In addition, an estimated 23% of privately rented homes are classified as shoddy – meaning they pose an immediate threat to one’s health, if they are not repaired in good condition. management, they lack modern equipment or they do not provide effective insulation or heating.

DLUHC took a piecemeal approach – including requiring agents to participate in approved remediation plans, a moratorium on permitting rents on tenants, and restrictions provisional for evictions during the Covid-19 pandemic, the watchdog said.

However, the department has yet to have a strategy on what it wants the industry regulations to look like as a whole, the department said.

It also lacks data on key issues for which action may be required, such as harassment, evictions, unresolved damage, or on the cost to landlords of complying with obligations, NAO added.

It also has limited data on what tools and approaches are used by local governments, and therefore cannot meaningfully analyze which is more effective in improving compliance and protection. tenant protection, the report said.

The system also relies heavily on tenants exercising their own rights and negotiating directly with landlords or going to court, the NAO argued.

In 2018, the DLUHC introduced mandatory repair agreements to allow the agency to work, but homeowners are not required to be members of the remediation plan.

Some households are also discriminated against, with an estimated 25% of UK homeowners unwilling to let non-UK passport holders and 52% unwilling to benefit home owners, the NAO said. said.

The percentage of private tenants living in unsafe or substandard housing for a decent home is worrying.

Gareth Davies, National Audit Office

The department is planning to introduce reforms to the private rental sector and has committed to a white paper by 2022.

Gareth Davies, head of the NAO, said: “The proportion of private tenants living in unsafe or substandard properties for a decent home is worrying. The government relies on these tenants being able to exercise their own rights, but they face significant barriers to doing so.

“The Department of Upgrades, Housing and Communities should improve the data quality and insight into the rental private sector, so that it can more effectively monitor the regulation of this sector. It should develop a clear strategy to meet its goal of providing a better deal for tenants. “

“We support the NAO’s call for a more strategic approach,” said Ben Beadle, chief executive officer of the National Rental Home Landlords Association (NRLA). There is an urgent need for a better evidence base to ensure the system focuses on rooting out the rogue landlords and criminals who have brought the sector to its knees.

“Councils often spend a lot of time regulating compliant homeowners who are easy to find.”

He added: “We are calling for the development of a meaningful national remediation plan for the sector as part of the Government’s upcoming White Paper on rental reform.”

“As part of the reform, the Government must require all landlords to register their properties,” said Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent. This will help the Government and councils better collect data on the sector, improve law enforcement and give tenants better access to remediation when there is a problem. ”

A spokesperson for the Department of Upgrades, Housing and Communities said: “We welcome this report. Conditions in the rental private sector are still not good enough and stronger regulations and reforms are needed to ensure everyone has a safe and decent place to live.

“We are working to raise standards by weeding out rogue landlords and strengthening the council’s enforcement powers but we must go further. Our upcoming white paper will lay out comprehensive reforms to create a more equitable rental private sector for all.”

David Renard, spokesman for the Housing Local Government Association, said: “Councils want all tenants to be able to live in safe and secure, high-quality housing that can afford a play an important role in raising standards in the private sector.

“With more powers, such as the freedom to set up landlord licensing schemes, councils would be better established to support a good quality local private rental offer in their community.”

Matthew Pennycook, Minister for Planning and Housing, added: “Instead of holding on to itself, the Government needs to prioritize developing a strategy to protect tenants’ rights and accelerate the implementation of the Tenant Reform Bill. promised rental.” Private sector tenants face ‘postcode lottery’ that exceed the standards of their homes


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