Can you smell the deprivation in the private rented sector?

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 Standards in private rented sector housing were put before Parliament once again yesterday in a Bill to make private landlords meet the Decent Homes Standard.

Conservative MP for South Thanet Laura Sandys has put forward a Private Members Bill to require private landlords to meet the Decent Homes Standard, just as local authorities and housing associations are.

Why the difference? Why do we discriminate against people based on who owns their property? These are the questions Laura Sandys asked when introducing her Bill to the Commons. In her constituency she represents one of the poorest wards in the country, where 84% of people live in private rented accommodation, which when describing she was sure would not be up to fellow MPs’ standards:

“Before you get to the door you can smell the deprivation, you can smell the damp…you can see that these properties are not at proper standards for places that you, or I, would feel fit to live in.”

According to the English Housing Survey the PRS has the worst conditions of all tenures, with 33% not meeting the Decent Homes Standard, compared to 15% of social housing and 20% of owner occupied homes. Pressure from all sides is growing to deal with standards in the sector, not only from tenants group but from across the industry. Last year seventeen industry bodies including the Tenancy Deposit Scheme came together to launch the new Best Practice Code for the Private Rented Sector, which was published as a response to the English Housing Survey findings. The Residential Landlords Association have also just released their Election Manifesto which calls for local authorities to get more robust powers to enforce existing laws "to ensure that all homes to rent are of a quality that tenants have a right to expect". It is a key point highlighted by the RLA; regulations to improve the sector may be welcome, but their success - or failure - lies in enforcement. The upcoming election is a chance for a mature debate on the sector and to avoid what the RLA describes as "knee jerk calls for more red tape".

Laura Sandys’ Bill was given initial approval, however it has no chance of becoming law because of the impending election. Nonetheless her campaign for standards in the private rented sector is worth following and you can read yesterday’s speech in the Commons here.



Posted by Chris Kendall, Tenancy Deposit Scheme on 29 January 2015

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