News & Blog

Decent Homes Standard Q&A with Sean Hooker, Head of Redress.

Sean Hooker, Head of Redress at the Property Redress Scheme, gives his view on the proposed Decent Homes Standard for private rented homes in England, which forms part of the Renters Reform Bill due next year.

 

Standard approach

 

“A Decent Homes Standard has been in operation within the social rented sector since 2004 and, now that it has raised standards there, is going to be applied to privately rented homes,” he says.

 

“Many agents are now pondering what it might mean for them, but my view is that if they are managing properties to the current minimum standards set by, for example, the housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS), they shouldn't have any problems. 

 

Fines or penalties?

 

“There are many properties, or around 20% of the PRS managed by landlords or letting agents, which do not reach the current minimum standards, and it is those people who will have to work much harder and raise their game or face either fines, a criminal record and, in the worst cases, a prison sentence.

 

“Unlike other regulations which attract civil penalties, the Decent Homes Standard will be backed up by criminal ones.

 

“And bear in mind that the Decent Homes Standard will go further than the existing minimum standards such as the HHSRS and require properties to be much more than just free of the dangerous Category 1 hazard regulations.

 

What’s the timetable?

 

“One relief for agents worried by the additional work and knowledge that the Decent Homes Standard may require is that it’s a long way off – the Renters Reform Bill won’t be introduced until the new year, legislation isn’t likely to gain royal assent until late 2024 or early 2025 and then it’ll need a grace period once that’s happened – and that’s my optimistic view.

 

Will it affect EPCs?

 

“The Decent Homes Standard is not directly linked to EPCs but they are both about bringing a property up to a minimum standard, and the proposed ‘property portal’ means all the information required by both schemes can be stored in one place.

 

“It will be much easier to audit properties and hold rogue landlords to account which will make compliance and enforcement easier.

 

“At the Property Redress Scheme we also believe that redress means that compliance problems can be picked up earlier and dealt with before enforcement is necessary.

 

Will agents be liable?

 

“This has not been nailed down yet. But I think it could make the ‘de facto’ landlord responsible for compliance with the Decent Homes Standard, so I think going forward agent/landlord contracts are going to have to be much clearer about agent responsibilities.”

 

Note: The Government’s consultation on the standard concluded recently.

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Property Redress Scheme is approved by Government under the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015