Reforming the Private Rented Sector Reform in England | A new Property Portal
Reforming the Private Rented Sector Reform in England |A new Property Portal and Minimum Decent Standards
The 2022 white paper A fairer private rented sector outlines the Government’s plans to introduce a new Property Portal which will include details of all landlords and their properties. Under the current proposals all privately rented homes will also need to meet the Decent Homes Standard for the first time
England is the only country in the UK that currently does not have a national register of landlords. The Government plans to introduce a new Property Portal to make sure that tenants, landlords and local councils have the information they need. As outlined in the 2022 white paper “A fairer private rented sector”, Under the proposals, all landlords will be legally required to register their property on the portal.
The portal would potentially have three key functions:
Act as an enforcement tool for councils by improving the information they have available on their local private rented sectors.
Provide a means to communicate directly with landlords and provide information (e.g., about new grants or initiatives which are available)
Provide a one-stop-stop for guidance on renting for both landlords and tenants
The Government’s proposals also include a requirement for all privately rented homes to meet the Decent Homes Standard for the first time.
The Decent Homes Standard is a regulatory standard in the Social Rented Sector but at the moment there is no requirement for privately properties to meet these standards. The Government recently ran a consultation on the introduction and enforcement of a Decent Homes Standard in the private rented sector in England. We currently await their response.
Research shows there is a need for an effective and responsive database that evolves in real time and allows local authorities to understand the sector and the way in which it is changing.
Many landlords lack adequate information on their rights, responsibilities and upcoming regulation. In a 2022 survey funded by the TDS Charitable Foundation and SafeDeposits Scotland Charitable Trust, 70% of landlords in England felt that changes in laws and regulations were not clearly communicated and 75% said it’s difficult to keep up with the changes that affect private renting. In that survey, deposit protection services emerged as the most frequently used information source; they were used more often than official government sources.
The charitable foundations also funded research which showed that that the data that is available to local authorities requires improvement if their enforcement activity is to be effective.
TDS Policy Position
Building on our experience of improving tenant/landlord understanding of their rights and responsibilities through our charitable arms, and our experience of providing education and information as a means of resolving or avoiding deposit disputes, TDS supports more information and education for tenants and landlords. Depending on how it is designed and delivered, a central hub which that provides information to landlords and tenants could be a positive development.
TDS also has a strategic aim to improve standards in the sector and believes that lower level geographical data is needed so that local authorities can effectively regulate their local private rented sectors. Providing local authorities with accurate information on properties via the portal could help target enforcement activity. We would welcome clarification from DLUCH on how that information held on the portal will be shared with local authorities in practice.
TDS believes that all housing in the private rented sector should meet a minimum decent standard. However, we believe that the new proposals fall short in specifying how adequate information and education will be made available to ensure that landlords are able to comply with the new requirements. If this is to lie with local authorities then adequate funding needs to be made available.