Private landlords will be prevented from receiving housing benefit for tenants when renting out low-quality homes under new rules announced as part of the Renters Reform Bill, housing secretary Michael Gove has announced today.

The reforms aim to slash the £3 billion a year in housing benefit estimated to go to landlords renting out sub-standard homes and should save the NHS up to the £340 million a year it spends on treating health problems these properties create, according to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

The National Audit Office’s recent report estimated that £9.1 billion in housing support was paid to private renters or directly to private landlords in 2020-21 and revealed that 29% of renters receiving welfare live in a non-decent home.

This ‘New Deal’ for renters aims to improve the lives of millions by driving up standards in the private and socially rented sector, extending the Decent Homes Standard and giving all renters the legal right to a safe and warm home.

The government adds that the standard will place a legal obligation on the small number of landlords renting out homes that are of such low quality they are endangering the health of their tenants to quickly improve them.

Currently, areas in the North have the highest proportion of non-decent private rented homes.

Many landlords have welcomed the news, hoping that it focuses councils’ attention away from the widely disliked licensing schemes to where it matters most.

silman portsmouth

Martin Silman (pictured), chairman of Portsmouth & District Private Landlords Association, says his group has tried for years to get councils to focus on the bottom 10% of properties rented by tenants who can’t afford anything else.

 “Although councils have been open to the suggestion, they don’t have the resources to cope with extra inspections and the resulting pressure it would cause on their emergency housing budgets which are already at breaking capacity,” he tells LandlordZONE.

“The announcement is brilliant news if it gives them the ability to step up and take the focus off the rest of us – then perhaps landlords won’t have such a bad name.”

However, there are fears that this will only happen if there is more co-operation between central and local government, along with proper direction of funds. Responding to the government’s announcement, James Jamieson, chairman of the Local Government Association, says: “Turning levelling up from a political slogan to a reality will only be achieved if councils have the powers and funding they need to address regional inequality, tackle concentrations of deprivation and make towns and communities across England attractive places to live, work and visit.”

New Deal

Gove says: “Too many renters are living in damp, unsafe and cold homes, powerless to put it right, and under the threat of sudden eviction. The New Deal for renters announced today will help to end this injustice, improving conditions and rights for millions of renters.”

The government has promised to publish a White Paper setting out more detail on the proposals for landmark reform in the private rented sector and promises to continue to work with the sector to develop the Renters Reform Bill.

20 COMMENTS

  1. Once again the Government are just playing to the gallery with knee-jerk reactions. The most common cause of damp and mould is condensation which is usually linked to the tenant not airing the property properly, particularly when drying clothes in the home, and a lack of heating with the real problem now being tenants not being able to afford heating. I had one flat that for 20 years has never had any damp issues. I recently had a young mother with a child and she left her washing in the bedroom with the window closed and barely any heating. The place was covered in mould. She even got the council involved who issued me with a letter! Short of paying for her heating, there was nothing I could do. The council only accepted my position when I provided evidence from the previous tenant who said they had no issues in the 3 years they were there prior to this woman.

    • I have a similar story. Flat with no previous damp problem, I get a letter from the council saying the tenant is complaining of damp. Sure enough, vents taped over, clothes dried in the flat, no heating. I replied to the council that no previous tenant had had a problem – and heard nothing more from them.
      Not long afterwards I ended up issuing a S21 due to illegal activities – they’d claimed that the neighbour had damaged their van and it was going to cost nearly £1,000 to repair. In reality, they’d just put some crayon on it (I checked when they weren’t around, a bit of it just rubbed off) and the neighbour could not have caused it without having developed Star Trek like technology to allow her to drive inside a solid wall.
      But when we got the flat back, there was not a single wall or ceiling without mould on it. And funnily enough, no tenant since has had a problem. One tenant in over 20 years, magic isn’t it !

    • And I bet the curtains were drawn all day as well to further hinder air circulation. Council officer without suitable training unable to diagnose condensation. The toff’s in government just don’t have a clue. The media love condensation as it has a high visual impact so people like shelter can shock everyone blaming landlord when the tenant is often the cause. The landlord bashing has started to come home to roost and once s21 goes many will be surprised that rents will rise availability / supply will drop. Those who can afford to rent will be chosen by landlords and those on benefit will miss out. How long before the penny drops? Before everyone shouts out discrimination it is in reality risk assessment.

      • Agree – Landlords are already getting very careful about the prospective tenants they select. Insurance companies risk assess. Banks. fiance companies,cresit card companies risk assess. Why shouldn’t landlords?

  2. hahahaha totally clueless

    So, let us accept there are LLs out there with poor properties – they will now have to rent to non-benefit tenants in future (and there are plenty of them queuing up).

    LLs with nicer properties on the whole DO NOT WANT benefit tenants.

    So, Mr Gove – where do you propose those benefit tenants live ?

  3. ……. of course, they can move into the thousands of empty social housing properties — that the Gov have failed in 12 years to get to Decent Homes Standards lol

  4. That’s another reason for landlords to not rent to the unemployed.

    Those who are working and receiving a smaller amount of housing benefit will have to find it out of their wages. If they don’t then they’ll be evicted for rent arrears.

    Not a very well thought out idea.

    Gove says: “Too many renters are living in damp, unsafe and cold homes, powerless to put it right, and under the threat of sudden eviction. The New Deal for renters announced today will help to end this injustice, improving conditions and rights for millions of renters.”

    Councils already have the powers to deal with inadequate housing, but, in my experience, don’t have the money to do so. One of my neighbours has a property with problems which eventually got reported to the council nearly two years ago and the problems have not been sorted out yet.

  5. Most councils are probably too embarassed by the state of some of their own social housing to have the brass neck to go after many rogue landlords as they should be doing.

  6. I have tenants who came from social housing full of black mould, leaking roofs and boilers breaking down. I trust tge councils will enforce these standards on their own housing first so when the wave of evictuons starts un the coming years with all this regulation they have room for them all. And i hope Shelter are already looking for more space for the large numbers if homeless single men who are usually at the bottom of the queue.

  7. Damp issues. Jeez. Most landlords sill know the cause of damp issues, mostly out of control of all but the tenant – normally condensation. Surely if any tenant does not like the property they have agreed to rent, if it is too low quality, then they can just move to a property that suits their needs better. No landlord that I have ever met forces a tenant to stay somewhere that they don’t want to be. Of. course, higher quality properties cost more & will require higher rent.

  8. This report is conflated nonsense

    1. It is correct that PRS landlords receive £9.1bn pa in housing benefit
    2. It is correct that 29% of homes are ‘non-decent’ – however this is for PRS and SRS with 17% of PRS and 12% of SRS properties are non-decent.

    As SRS landlords receive £16.9bn pa in housing benefit and 12% are non-decent it means £2.03bn of housing benefit is paid for non-decent homes of SRS landlords; whereas the 17% of £9.1bn pa paid to PRS landlords for non-decent homes is £1.55bn per year.

    In summary and that pesky thing called FACT we see far MORE housing benefit is paid to social landlords with non-decent homes than it is to private landlords

  9. What about people who live in hostels for years and years sharing kitchen and bathroom. Government needs to do something about it , they demolished all the council house and make New build to people to buy . What about people like us. Suffer in 1 room with adults and kids. Adult don’t have privacy.They keep saying look for private rental as it very expensive for us. They just put us in the hostel they told us it our temporary accommodation . They don’t have property for us. Councillor need to come and visit us how we living. Thank you.

  10. my name is mohammad fallah I receive universal credit and PIP .
    I have mobility issues and I have severe depression and anxiety I was register as homeless by harrow council
    and eventually was given a flat at queens house in harrow this flat is should be maintain by a company call
    Landside management (SIMON LEE & MICHEAL).
    ever since I moved in I had issues with the property that was effecting health and mental issues.
    for the last 5 month there is a hole in the ceiling in the bedroom dirty water smell of urine the flat is been infested by flies I have been bitten by insects which left me with my left thigh not have feeling
    By the way I have 63 years of age and register as vulnerable person by rethink (BRIDGE).
    no one is there to help me at all the latest problem I have no bad chest infection due to my leaving environment .
    god bless

  11. just to finish of tat I forgot to say is all the bed room carpet is smell of urine I hade to call some friend to move my personal belonging to one corner .
    dinning room where the skirting are cover by yellow black mould
    bedroom door is un hinged .
    the bedroom is becoming new habitation for the flies

  12. As someone whose landlord has had to sell up to recoup losses due to covid after I have rented my home from them for 14 years I am finding the new rules the idiots in government are putting in does the exact opposite of making it easier to rent a property! I have been a good tenant here for 14 years and even put in a new kitchen at my own expense after 10 years use out of the one that was here, however I do have an 11 year old dog and two children which means the 5 weeks security deposit that is all landlords can take now is absolutely no assurance against damages that could end up in the tens of thousands if I happened to be a bad tenant with unruly crotch goblins and a dog with a penchant for chewing walls and carpets (she mostly sleeps and I crate her when leaving her unattended anyway) I wouldnt want to rent out a home i had sunk thousands of pounds into with only essentially a months rent to repair any damages when the tenant leaves would you? So now that landlords are in this position they are simply selling up creating a massive shortage in the private rental sector. They cant even stipulate you have to have the place deep cleaned at the end of the tenancy anymore for christs sake! They have gone so far “in favour” of tenants that actually its done the exact opposite of what it was meant to and made things 100 times worse. I’m 34 weeks pregnant and cant find a single property to take us as a family of me, partner, 14 year old daughter, 10 year old son and well behaved dog. And thats with a £1500 pcm budget for a 3 bed. The people writing these rules need to live in the real world where we can maybe offer up 3 months rent value as a deposit as more of an incentive for landlords worried that families will cause damage imho then maybe less would simply turn their properties into air b&bs or sell up.

  13. The government’s actions mean there are now very few properties available to rent , as such very few landlords want to rent to benefit claimants. Government’s so far out of touch its untrue

  14. Why only private LLs? When social housing, IE housing association’s are the worse culprits for supplying sub standard housing and the ones getting billions of taxpayers money from rent. These should be targeted long b4 the private sector, landlords from hell, the new slum owners etc just some of the names for housing association. My own property from sanctuary housing has been contaminated twice in 2 years with asbestos by them and been waiting for over 3 years now for serious repairs no choice but to bring in solicitors yet MP and local council don’t care one bit.

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