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The Renters (Reform) Bill has brought around new proposals to improve the standard of living for tenants in the UK.
In November 2023, the government proposed to introduce the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector.
What is the Decent Homes Standard?
The Decent Homes standard was published in the early 2000s and set the minimum standards for all social housing in England and Northern Ireland.
At this time the government has stated its commitment to applying the standard to the private sector as part of the Renters (Reform) Bill.
What does "decent" mean?
Indeed there are many factors to define whether a property meets the minimum required standards. These include:
Ensuring a property is in a reasonable state of repair
Having reasonably modern facilities and services
Providing a reasonable degree of thermal comfort
When will a Decent Homes Standard be applied to the private rented sector?
The government's plans to introduce a Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector was originally intended to be part of the Renters (Reform) Bill.
However, the government stated that it would need to continue its consultation on the sector before confirming its proposals.
Meanwhile, in November 2023, this was updated again during the parliamentary process where a detailed examination of the Bill took place.
How many private rented properties meet the Decent Homes Standard?
The government estimates that 79% of properties in the private rented sector already meet the current standard.
Although, that means there are 21% of properties that don't meet the standard and will need to invest in upgrades.
How much will it cost landlords to upgrade their properties?
The government has not shared an estimate on how much upgrading properties may cost individual landlords.
However, it is expected that most landlords will be able to meet these costs.
While this may be true, a "cost cap" on the improvements to be made will also be considered - although the appropriateness is being questioned given the standard is about safety.
How will the standard be enforced?
Currently, local councils are responsible for identifying hazards in private rented properties and taking enforcement action against landlords.
The consultation proposes introducing this as a legal duty for landlords to ensure their property meets the Decent Homes Standard.
As a result, any breach of the standard would therefore be considered a criminal offence - with certain exemptions, such as listed properties.
The white paper highlights how this will help councils "crack down on non-compliant landlords while protecting the reputation of responsible ones."
For more information, view the full guidance here.