A cross-party group of MPs says a crackdown on social landlords to tackle damp and mould should be extended to tenants in the private rented sector.
The Commons’ health and social care committee has urged the government to take further steps to hold private landlords to account as it believes current guidance that promises unlimited fines for non-compliance doesn’t go far enough.
Its report says homes in the PRS contribute disproportionately to both the total number of poor-quality homes and the costs that poor housing causes to the NHS. The MPs explain: “The Renters Reform Bill contains some welcome steps to further protect tenants. But recent high profile cases involving tenants in social housing have demonstrated that the health impact of poor-quality housing can be catastrophic.”
It adds that more than three years after the government first committed to review and then extend the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector, no legal minimum quality standard exists to protect tenants in private rentals.
“We recommend the government proceeds without delay in…implementing a Decent Homes Standard for the private rented sector. It is welcome that the government has proposed measures to protect social sector tenants from the worst impacts of unhealthy homes, via the implementation of Awaab’s law. It should also consider how similar safeguards could be extended to tenants in the private rented sector who are affected by housing hazards, such as damp and mould, that can pose an immediate danger to health.”
Housing Secretary Michael Gove put forward proposals earlier this month which set new deadlines for social housing landlords to make emergency repairs to unsafe homes; to investigate hazards within 14 days, start repairs within a further seven days, and make emergency repairs within 24 hours – under the threat of possible court action.
However, Housing minister Baroness Scott of Bybrook recently told a House of Lords debate that the government was satisfied the Decent Homes Standard would be sufficient for the PRS.