If you thought there were enough rules attached to minimum living standards in the private rented sector, think again. The Government is set to redefine what is acceptable as soon as May 2023. There is now a surprising amount of detail surrounding a new Decent Homes Standard for the private rental sector, although many landlords are unaware of what a compliant property will look like. Even a small kitchen may fall foul of the law.
Another set of rules to comply with
The incoming Decent Homes Standard will be in addition to a number of existing Acts and regulations that specify what condition a property should be in if it’s let to tenants. Landlords already have to comply with and be subject to:
- The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985
- The Housing Act 2004
- The Housing and Planning Act 2016
- The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018
- The Tenant Fees Act 2019
- The Fire Safety Act 2021
- The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022
- MEES Regulations
Standards are still deemed sub-par
Despite these existing regulations, the quality of private rented homes is not improving as quickly as the Government would like and former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick was quoted in the press saying “evidence suggests” that the private rental sector has an average of “lower standards than the social rented sector.”
Although the Government’s own figures suggest the proportion of substandard dwellings in the private rented sector fell from 37.2% in 2010 to 21.0% in 2020, it finds it ‘unacceptable that some renters still live in poor quality homes’.
To address this, the Levelling Up the UK white paper sets out to halve the number of substandard homes in all rented sectors by 2030. An additional white paper – A Fairer Private Rented Sector – feeds into the above and outlines the introduction of a new Decent Homes Standard for private lets.
So, what are the new rules for private landlords? This Government document details what private landlords should expect from a Decent Homes Standard. Active buy-to-lets and property portfolios will have to meet the following proposed criteria:
- Meets the current statutory minimum standard for housing
- Is in a reasonable state of repair
- Has reasonable facilities and services
- Provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort
Of concern is the age of ‘building components’ that are deemed old and, because of their condition, need replacing or major repair. The Government’s definition of old appears to be a component that is older than its standard lifetime, which should set alarm bells ringing if kitchens, bathrooms, boilers and windows are dated but functional.
Additionally, landlords need to be aware that the layout of their buy-to-lets may come under scrutiny. A kitchen without adequate space and a poor layout, or an inappropriately located bathroom or WC, may not meet the benchmark set out in regards to point three.
Landlords without a managing agent will be hit hardest
Buy-to-lets that are professionally managed tend to be in a better state of repair than those that are self-managed. Absent landlords and those operating alone may discover their properties do not meet a new Decent Homes Standard.
With property maintenance already swallowing up a fifth of rental income, keeping compliant with habitation regulations will put landlords under increasing financial pressure. We are seeing a growing trend for landlords exiting the market – for various reasons – and LandlordBuyer knows stricter living standards is one of them.
Sell with no maintenance needed
If keeping compliant is a stretch too far for your buy-to-let business, sell property fast to LandlordBuyer. Our property buying service is open to all flats and houses currently being rented out. Our cash offers apply to properties that will fail to meet the new Decent Homes Standard. Get in touch with the LandlordBuyer team for advice and to start your sale.
Q. What is the Renters’ Reform Bill Decent Homes Standard?
A. The new Decent Homes Standard will provide an additional framework for private landlords to legally comply with. It will outline the minimum living conditions of a rented property and its components, relating to age, state of repair and effectiveness.
Q. Does the Decent Homes Standard apply to the private rented sector?
A. The new Decent Homes Standard will apply to the private rented sector as soon as it is introduced. A Decent Homes Standard already exists for the social housing sector.