Private Rented Sector:

The government’s response to a recent Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Select Committee Report: “Private Rented Sector”, has been criticised for its low key response by The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH).

The institutes says the report makes key recommendations designed to improve standards in the private rented sector, but it has expressed disappointment at the government’s weak response to the Committee’s report on the PRS, reflecting that those people currently in the private rented sector have a right to “expected better”.

The CIEH contributed to the findings of the HCLG Select Committee on their extensive inquiry, giving evidence to the committee in February this year, and arguing for a total review of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), a process currently used to assess safety standards in the sector.

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HHSRS was introduced under the Housing Act 2004.  The system is used to assess risks to health and safety in the home and looks at faults and deficiencies that could cause injury and ill-health to residents. But it was argued in the report that it is 12 years out of date, too complex for the layman to understand, and in need of a review. But the government’s response so far has been not to commit to any review.

In the government’s response to the report, it says:

“We recognise that the methodology and associated guidance for the HHSRS is now several years old and we will carefully consider whether it needs to be updated. In doing so, we would wish to reflect upon who is best placed, and has the necessary expertise, to carry out such a review.”

CIEH housing policy manager, Tamara Sandoul, says:

“We are bitterly disappointed that the government has decided not to make a decision on the review and update of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System – an issue that has surfaced throughout the Select Committee inquiry into the private rented sector.

“The evidence and guidance that local authorities use to take action on dangerous housing conditions has not been reviewed or updated since it was introduced 12 years ago. Housing courts rely on this outdated guidance to make their decisions. We urge the Government to commit to a full update of HHSRS and to see how it could be improved going forward.

“We are further disappointed to hear that decisions have also not been made on two other key areas of housing safety. The requirement to undertake five yearly electrical safety inspections and the need to provide a working carbon monoxide alarm for all rented properties with a fuel-burning device have been postponed until a later date.

“This is simply not good enough and the millions of people currently in the private rented sector expected better.”

Several other proposals in the report were side-lined by the government’s response document.

The Private Rented Sector inquiry with government response – see here

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