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Getting the house in order: How to improve standards in the private rented sector

26 Mehefin 2019

Getting the house in order [ 0.81 mb]

The private rented sector (PRS) is an essential market that provides 4.7 million households with a roof over their heads. This includes 1.7 million families who are raising children in these homes - 3 times as many as a decade ago. Given the number of families who now rent and the costs they pay, it’s essential that this market works well.

But despite recent legislation including the Tenant Fees Act and Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act, and government plans to introduce a housing ombudsman, renters do not receive the same level of protection as they do in other essential consumer markets.

Getting the house in order [ 0.81 mb] shows that tenants face widespread problems, and often have to resolve these themselves. Complicated regulation is leaving landlords confused about what their obligations are, and tenants uncertain about who is responsible for resolving problems. Any enforcement action also relies on proactive tenants - despite many tenants not knowing when their landlords are breaking the rules. A lack of oversight and effective deterrence is failing to hold bad landlords to account and enforce tenants’ rights, even when landlords are breaking the law.

Key statistics:

  • 22% of tenants experiencing disrepair end up spending their own time or money fixing the problem.
  • 9 in 10 tenants don’t know whether a responsibility is theirs or their landlord’s.
  • 1 in 4 landlords were not able to correctly identify any of the potential outcomes of failing to meet their obligations towards tenants.
  • 1 in 3 landlords find it difficult to keep up with rules and regulations.
  • 75% of landlords agree that having a single national body responsible for standards would make their job easier

What Citizens Advice is calling for:

A national housing body should be established to set consistent standards, providing more protection for tenants and making it easier for landlords to do their jobs. This could mean giving new powers to either an existing institution or a combination of them. Or it could mean creating a new independent body. However it’s constructed, this body should have access to a broad toolkit of interventions which focus on:

  • Setting the right standards. A national body could implement a range of measures designed to bring up standards across the sector, create consistent expectations and requirements, and lay the groundwork for proactive ongoing monitoring.

Supporting landlords to meet their obligations. A national body would be able to take steps such as improving communications around rules and their interpretation as well as intervening to support landlords before tenants enter an enforcement process.