According to Kate Faulkner, Housing Market Commentator for the TDS Charitable Foundation, failure to enforce private rental sector (PRS) regulations is incentivising rogue landlords and agents.
Faulkner discovered that, despite efforts to rectify regulation and standards in the sector, including Housing Health and Safety Rating System, a lack of compliance was shown, in addition to a lack of enforcement by some landlords and agents. Due to this, many efforts made, were futile.
145 pieces of legislation have been presented covering the PRS, with 50% revealed since 1996. However, more properties are deemed as ‘non-decent’.
The report utilises data taken from the English Housing Survey to convey that, despite the proportion of non-decent properties with reported issues of overcrowding, damp, fire risks or hazardous electrics, there are properties in the PRS dropped from almost 47% in 2006 to 28% in 2015. The growth of the sector has meant that these properties have increased from 1.2m to 1.3m.
The report expresses that, whilst the legislation introduced had rendered properties far safer, such as rules on gas safety, there remained many tenants who were oblivious to what passed as acceptable standards for a property.
It also warns that the cost of improvements could mean that rents will rise and that it will be more difficult for tenants to afford decent homes.
Faulkner comments: “Due to the rising costs to good landlords and a scant enforcement of PRS regulations, there is an incentive for some landlords and agents to act outside the law to increase their profit margins.
“The increased costs to landlords of buying a property, then letting it legally and safely, means that in some cases rents have increased beyond the means of some tenants. Reputable landlords and agents are being penalised financially for abiding by the law.
“It can create a vicious cycle and a two-tiered rental market, which the legislation was never intended to create.
“The problem, as I see it, is that bills are introduced on the sector all the time but aren’t backed with a communications plan or funding for enforcement.
“Myriad legislation can be confusing for tenants, and rogue landlords and agents often get away with offering sub-standard homes as tenants don’t know their rights.
“In reality, tenants hold the power in terms of accepting or rejecting poor or dangerous properties, although where supply is scant, this power disappears.”
Furthermore, the Government has recently launched new online information, with the purpose of enabling landlords and tenants to be certain about what rights they have. In addition, rental guides published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, also include checklists for landlords, existing tenants and letting agents.
These new guides will be extremely effective, as, private landlords will be provided with the opportunity to further their knowledge, regarding their primary responsibilities and most effective practices when letting a property. Moreover, paramount knowledge on how to conduct gas safety checks, install smoke and carbon dioxide alarms will be furthered, alongside the process of tenancy deposit protection.
Housing minister Heather Wheeler commented: “Every day across the country thousands of people move house – from young people leaving home for the first time, to those relocating after years in the same property.
“Whatever the circumstance, we want to ensure renters, landlords and leaseholders are armed with information so they know their rights, responsibilities and can challenge poor behaviour.
“The guides will be reviewed in light of any new legislation to ensure tenants, landlords and leaseholders are supplied with up-to-date information.”
To ensure that landlords understand their responsibilities, and protect the health and safety of their tenants, we have a wide range of free, useful guides on a host of lettings laws – view them here: https://landlordnews.co.uk/guide/