The government has rejected calls for private landlords to be given similar deadlines to the social housing sector for dealing with damp and mould.
Plans to force social landlords to investigate hazards within 14 days, start repairs within a further seven days, and make emergency repairs within 24 hours were unveiled earlier this week – under the threat of possible court action.
During a Lords debate, shadow housing spokesman Lord Khan of Burnley pointed out that millions of children in the private rented sector were also living with damp, mould or excessively cold temperatures, and asked what the government planned to do to tackle poor conditions for PRS tenants.
Housing Minister Baroness Scott of Bybrook (pictured) said there were differences between the rented housing tenures. “Almost half of private rental landlords own a single property and the vast majority own fewer than five so, unlike social housing landlords, very few will have in-house or contracted repair and maintenance teams, which makes it more difficult,” she explained.
She told peers that it had to consider proportionate timescales in legislation for the private rented sector. However, Baroness Bybrook added that safety and decency of private rented homes would be addressed by the Renters Reform Bill, particularly though an amendment to apply a decent homes standard to the PRS for the first time and to give local councils enforcement powers.
She dismissed a suggestion from Baroness Finlay of Llandaff that the government should ask every local authority to establish a registration point where tenants who felt that their housing was seriously below standard could report and discuss the issue.
Last September, the government published new guidance, making clear that private landlords are to be held accountable for damp and mould in their homes including unlimited fines for those who flout the rules.