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It’s time to tackle the scourge of sub-standard rental homes, says PayProp chief

Tenants living in sub-standard rented accommodation need greater support, according to Neil Cobbold, chief operating officer of PayProp UK, who has welcomed the government’s ongoing review of the housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS).

The leading PropTech supplier believes that the ongoing review, which was initially announced in October 2018 by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), is happening at a ‘pertinent time’ for the lettings industry, with the most recent English Housing Survey, published last month, revealing that the PRS accounts for the highest proportion of non-decent homes at 25%.

Under consideration is whether the system needs updating and whether to introduce minimum standards for common health and safety problems in rental accommodation.


For a home to be considered ‘decent’, it must meet the HHSRS minimum standard, which was introduced in 2006, under the Housing Act 2004, designed to provide local authorities with the means to check health and safety in residential properties. Councils can use the HHSRS to recover costs from landlords for repair works or order them to carry out improvements.

The property must also contain no category 1 hazards, alongside several other criteria.

But the English Housing Survey shows that in 2017, 14% of PRS homes had a category 1 hazard, although this is down from 31% in 2008.

Cobbold commented: “With the PRS accounting for the highest proportion of non-decent homes, the review of the HHSRS will be important in determining if criteria need to be tightened in order to reduce the number of sub-standard rental homes.

“It's pleasing to see that the number of rental homes with serious hazards is declining, but that is another reason why the HHSRS needs updating.

“As newer homes enter the sector and energy efficiency continues to improve, there could be entirely different health and safety issues which now merit closer attention.”

An updated HHSRS is further essential for the PRS due to the significant change the market has undergone since the system was first introduced, according to Cobbold.

He makes reference to the English Housing Survey that shows that in the last decade, the number of households with dependent children in the PRS has increased by 795,000. Meanwhile, during the same period, the number of 35-44-year-olds privately renting more than doubled from 13% to 28%.

He continued: “As well as changing demographics, which have an impact on property standards, the sector has become much larger since 2006, now accounting for around a fifth of all households.

“This means more tenants need protection from rogue landlords with increased opportunities to let sub-standard homes.

“Moreover, the introduction this year of the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 - which will give tenants the opportunity to take legal action against landlords letting hazardous homes - means that a HHSRS which reflects the current market is vital.

“This will help landlords and letting agents to meet their compliance obligations, while offering the required protection for the nation's renters.”

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Poll: Do you think that tenants need greater support from the government?


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    I am all for getting rid of rouge landlords and sub standard homes, but there is a flip side, what will become of the rouge tenants ? I won't house them nor will any other landlord with decent homes so it will be up to councils and housing assocs or shop door ways.

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    this is just getting silly, why don't we introduce a new rule that the tenant can use your house trash it abuse it put wet clothes on radiators, keep all the windows closed and cause nothing but damp, never clean it and then we will pay them for the privilege of ruining our homes...its just getting totally ridiculous...sub standard homes is total rubbish. damp is mostly caused by how people use a home and never clean the wet up so it becomes damp..I have lived in my home with damp and I have never been ill, I cleaned it up mostly but some of it hid behind the wardrobe, oh heavens forbid can I not pay my mortgage company for that...but in rented accommodation they become life threatening and it means they dont have to pay, its a complete and utter joke, this country is a complete and utter joke...how can we treat legitimate landlords like this...

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    Red French tenants - Hate 'em

  •  G romit

    More regulation is not needed just enforcement of the existing.
    More regulation will actually lower standards on average; as 'good' Landlords are driven out of the market, leaving free reign to rogue Landlords who will just ignore new and existing regulation anyway.

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    How many more people can fit on the anti landlord bandwagon?

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    I give up

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    • 20 February 2019 19:07 PM

    Nobody can doubt that decent rental homes are an ideal aspiration.
    However it is just a simple fact that a substantial portion of property in the UK is sub-standard.
    Especially in the PRS it would simply be uneconomic for LL to improve the properties to higher standards.
    Most LL would be better off just selling these poor standard properties.
    It would take many years before any worthwhile payback could be achieved as most of these properties are poorly yielding.
    Govt should take the bull by the horns and offer interest free loans with 2nd charges being applied to the properties to ensure the Govt is repaid.
    Govt would require all those properties to meet the EPC C status.
    There would be a requirement that if the Govt loan wasn't covered by the property sale proceeds then the LL would be personally responsible for repaying the debt.
    If Govt believes LL will invest further money into sub-standard properties they are deluding themselves.
    The business case for retaining these sub-standard properties is very dubious to say the least!!
    The new regulations will only result in LL selling off these troublesome properties.
    The business case for investing in the lower end of the market which generally involves the sub-standard ones is something that is now highly doubtful.
    Even with a potential Govt loan to improve a property the LL would be charged S24 taxes!!!!!
    There are of course major issues which tenants are responsible for.
    They refuse to heat and ventilate a property on a daily basis.
    Heating costs are of course a major factor.
    In short it is lifestyle and cost factors which cause the issues that make many perfectly satisfactory properties to become degraded by poor tenant lifestyle.
    LL will face an uphill struggle to manage these tenant circumstances.
    It is an unequal competition.
    LL would do better to just sell off these properties that attract tenants who seem incapable of behaving in a tenant like manner.

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    The picture looks like condensation issue to me

    • 20 February 2019 20:12 PM

    Most LL are in full agreement with your suggestion.
    However that is not how the tenants spin it to the council.
    Persistent condensation will result in a tenant complaint and will cost the LL lots of money.
    It becomes uneconomic for a LL to sustain such properties.
    If Govt insists in persisting with these bonkers tenant sided regulations there will be many hundreds of thousands of homeless tenants as LL sell up the allegedly sub-standard properties.


    I always take a full photographic inventory before the tenancy commences and instruct the agent to inform the incoming tenant to properly ventilate areas by opening windows where appropriate, especially in the bathroom/ shower room when bathing.
    At least then, they cannot say that it was a problem before they moved in.

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    All my properties have better kitchen and bathrooms than mine, this constant bashing is complete nonsense to majority of landlords, it with taxation is only going to reduce available property as they sell, or increase rents to pay for the pleasure of over extended legislation, especially as the rest of the 20 million homes don't do any of it.
    You don't open a window with a hammer, chase the bad landlords by tenants reporting them, and give tenants clear instructions on what is correct and not.....instead of incurring hundreds of pounds in legislation that no one will check, and many tenants don't even care about!


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