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A Decent Homes Standard for the Private Rented Sector

The ‘Decent Homes Standard’ (DHS) sets out a required minimum quality for social housing in England. As part of several proposed reforms to the private rented sector, a government amendment to the Renters (Reform) Bill would see the application of the DHS to private rented homes also. Having completed its process in the House of Commons, the Bill continues in the House of Lords. In this blog, TDS explains what the DHS is and what its application to the private rented sector could look like for landlords.

What is the Decent Homes Standard?

The DHS sets out the following four criteria that social housing in England must meet:

a) Free of serious hazards (known as category 1 hazards, assured under the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System);

b) In a reasonable state of repair;

c) With reasonable facilities and services such as kitchens and bathrooms; and

d) With efficient heating and effective insulation.

The DHS is currently undergoing a review having not been updated since 2006.

Why the Government is proposing a DHS for private rented homes

According to the English Housing Survey, 21% of private rented homes are below the standards set out in the DHS, worse than social (14%) and owner-occupied housing (10%).

A DHS for private rentals is being proposed by the Government as part of its ambition to halve the number of substandard homes by 2030 based on their belief that, ‘it is wrong that in 21st century Britain, over a fifth of tenants are still spending a third of their income on substandard housing…’

Not only would this support the Government’s ability to address fuel poverty but removing hazardous conditions could save the NHS up to £340 million a year. A DHS for private rented homes may help to bring parity between private and social tenants and help to make housing conditions consistent across England.

What might a DHS for the private rented sector look like?

During the Bill’s final stages in the Commons, the Government said that the DHS was in the process of being co-designed with landlord and tenant groups. This follows consultation on the Government’s proposed model in 2022.

For the most part, the standard would be consistent with the existing standard for social rentals but tailored to fit the unique conditions of the private rented sector. Not only would this take into account existing regulations, such as the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES), the diversity of housing types would be factored in with potential exemptions, such as for listed buildings, being considered.

The Bill’s new clause will amend the Housing Act 2004, establishing regulations to specify DHS requirements for rented homes, enforceable by local authorities. The regulations would be set by the Secretary of State but subject to ‘the affirmative procedure’ meaning that both the House of Commons and the House of Lords would have to actively approve them.

What could the DHS cost private landlords?

The amendment would make landlords responsible to meet the new requirements. Those who fail to do so would be required to take action and may be subjected to a fine of up to £5,000. Local authorities would also have powers to prosecute or impose fines of up to £30,000 for non-compliance with early enforcement action.

‘We anticipate around 79% of private rented sector properties will not require any investment because they already meet the current Decent Homes Standard. However, 21% of properties that currently do not meet the Standard will require investment from landlords.’

It is understood that most of these landlords will be able to cover this cost, which includes meeting regulations that already exist, such as being free from serious hazards. However, where investment is required, the Government is considering ways of supporting landlords, such as through phased timelines and cost caps. Such details will be confirmed at a later date.


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