Millions of renters could benefit from a set of improved standards for rental homes as the Government launches a new consultation.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) launched the consultation into introducing a new Decent Homes Standard to the rented sector on Friday.
It comes after the DLUHC’s latest English Housing Survey found that 23% of the 4.4 million occupied homes in the private rented sector did not meet the Decent Homes Standard – higher than the proportion of owner occupied (14%) and social rented homes (11%).
The consultation will gather views from renters, landlords, councils and housing groups over the next six weeks.
They will be asked whether privately rented homes should be required to be kept in a good state of repair with efficient heating, suitable facilities and free from serious hazards such as major damp or fire risks.
The consultation will also ask for views on how such measures should be enforced.
If changes are introduced, landlords could be legally bound to make sure their property meets a reasonable standard, the DLUHC said.
The department said the move comes as part of plans to halve the number of poor-quality homes by 2030.
Housing Secretary Greg Clark said: “I want to see a thriving private rented sector, but that does not mean that tenants should have to suffer homes that are not of decent standard.
“This consultation asks what the minimum standard for privately rented homes should be.”
Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent, said: “We welcome these plans to extend the Decent Homes Standard to private rented homes.
“As the private rented sector has grown to overtake the social sector in size, not enough action has been taken on the poorer conditions private tenants must put up with.
“Private rented homes are more costly to heat and at a higher risk of disrepair and damp problems.”
She said: “This crucial measure will help tenants get value for money, whoever they rent from, and stop landlords from profiting by cutting corners.”
Gavin Smart, chief executive at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “All renters should be able to live in decent, well-maintained homes.
“We look forward to seeing the details set out in the consultation and discussing the proposals with our members.”
In June, the Government released its Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper, which outlined plans to reform the private rented sector and level up housing quality across the country.
As well as the new Decent Homes Standard in the rented sector, the paper included proposals to replace Section 21 “no fault” eviction notices and reforms “to empower tenants so they can make informed choices, raise concerns and challenge unfair rent hikes”.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “It’s high time that conditions in the private rented sector are brought up to scratch. For too long, private renters have been stuck paying through the nose for homes that aren’t even fit to live in.
“The Government plans to introduce a Decent Homes Standard have the potential to set clear duties for landlords and give renters more protection from unsafe conditions. For these reforms to work, local authorities will need the resources to drive up standards and tackle rogue landlords.
“Renters need to ability to hold their landlords to account without fear of eviction. The Government has committed to scrapping so-called ‘no fault’ evictions this year. The new prime minister must introduce the Renters’ Reform Bill as a priority, so that renters can, at last, feel safer in their homes.”