Landlords are waiting to find out how they will need to bring their properties up to the ‘decent homes standard’ announced in the government’s Levelling Up White Paper.
However, its extensive guidance for social landlords gives a good indication of what might be expected as this is likely to be the basis for the new rules covering private landlords.
Under the definition, a home is considered decent if it doesn’t have one or more serious category one hazards. It also needs to be in a “reasonable state of repair” and would fail the test if one or more of the key building components – external walls, roof structure and covering, windows/doors, chimneys, central heating boilers, gas fires, storage heaters, plumbing and electrics – are old (older than their standard lifetime) and, because of their condition, need replacing or major repair.
A property isn’t in a reasonable state of repair if two or more of any other building components are old and, because of their condition, need replacing or major repair.
Properties need “reasonably modern facilities and services” and those which lack three or more of the following would fail: a reasonably modern kitchen (20 years old or less); kitchen with adequate space and layout; reasonably modern bathroom (30 years old or less); an appropriately located bathroom and WC; adequate insulation against external noise (where external noise is a problem); and adequate size and layout of common areas for blocks of flats.
A home without one or two of these is still classed as decent, and landlords wouldn’t need to modernise kitchens and bathrooms if their property meets the remaining criteria.
Lastly, properties need to “provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort” through both effective insulation and efficient heating – although this definition could well be superseded by any upcoming changes to EPC ratings.
Government guidance also notes that landlords are not expected to make a home decent if this is against a tenant’s wishes as work can be undertaken when it is next void.
“Every tenant should have the right to expect properties to be safe and secure. The existing Decent Homes Standard however is not the right vehicle with which to achieve this important goal,” says Chief Executive Ben Beadle.
“At present, this standard, designed for the social rented sector, does not reflect many of the differences between it and the private rented sector. This includes the types and age of properties in each.
“We will work with the Government to ensure whatever standards expected of the sector are proportionate, fit for purpose and can be properly enforced. Without this, criminal landlords will continue to undermine the reputation of the vast majority of responsible landlords doing the right thing.”