Effective and well-funded local authority enforcement key to improve rented home standards

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) goal of the Decent Homes Standard in England is to create greater parity between the social and private rented sectors, ensuring that landlords who do not treat their tenants fairly are held accountable.

Bedroom in a state of disrepair

The challenge of enforcing standards 

The responsibility of enforcing these rules will often lie with the local authority. While DLUHC is in an excellent position to enforce local standards based on the needs of their area, Propertymark has been quick to point out that many local authorities struggle to enforce the current standards within the private rented sector. Any additional responsibilities for local authorities will be difficult to manage without additional resources. 

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Recommendations for the Decent Homes Standards

In addition to greater local authority resources, Propertymark has urged that DLUHC consider the following recommendations:

  • Focus on prevention rather than prosecution – in order to ensure that the standard of homes improves, resources should be focused on providing information to landlords and support to enable them to meet the standard, rather than using fines as a first response to any breaches. 
  • Develop national guidelines for local authorities – our members have expressed concerns over the potential for inconsistent enforcement and standards across England. National guidelines would increase the consistency of the Decent Homes Standard. 
  • There should be some accountability for tenants – if the breach in standards is due to a lack of care or neglect by the tenant, the landlord should not be liable for the violation. This is especially important when dealing with the issue of mould.  

It’s hard to find a reason not to support greater standards for homes within the private rented sector. Tenants should expect a certain standard when renting from any agent. The Decent Homes Standard creates a level playing field that our members will appreciate as they already go above and beyond what is expected of them. 

That being said, the DLUHC needs to understand the immense strain local authorities are facing when delivering their current duties regarding existing standards. Sufficient resources and commitment will be required to ensure consistent and regular enforcement of the Decent Homes Standard. 

Timothy Douglas Serious
Timothy Douglas Head of Policy and Campaigns | Propertymark