ODPM feedback 'music to BTL investors ears'

Amanda Jarvis

April 10, 2006

In 1996, just 37.6% of homes in the private rented sector were classed as decent. This figure has risen by nearly 20%, to reach 57.4% in 2004. ‘Decent’ homes must meet the following criteria:

– meet the statutory minimum fitness levels (shortly to be replaced by the Housing Health and Safety Rating System – HHSRS)
– be in a reasonable state of repair
– have modern facilities
– have adequate levels of insulation
– have an effective heating system to ensure that homes can be kept warm

David Salusbury, Chairman of the National Landlords Association commented: ‘Over the last 10 years we have witnessed consistent improvement in the quality of homes within the private rented sector and, indeed, the vast majority of landlords are committed to continuing this process of improvement in the future. While we support the government’s desire to raise standards in the private rented sector, we do not feel that the blunt stick of across-the-board regulation is the answer alone, the role of the market is also critically important.'

The improvement in the quality of housing stock has had the biggest impact on vulnerable households – defined by the ODPM as those in receipt of the principal means-tested or disability-related benefits.

Three million vulnerable households live in private accommodation, nearly a quarter of which rent. Currently, 50.3% of vulnerable households living in private rented accommodation live in homes classed as decent, compared with just 28.0% in 1996.

David Salusbury continued: ‘The private rented sector provides homes for millions of people who need accommodation in this country, including many of the most vulnerable. It’s very encouraging that the disparity between household conditions is narrowing and that the private rented sector continues to contribute to this. Landlords, government and local authorities must continue to work together to ensure these improvements continue. The majority of landlords already provide their tenants with decent accommodation although there is always room for improvement.’

One of the Government’s key objectives is to increase the proportion of vulnerable households in the private sector who live in decent homes by 2010.

David Salusbury concluded: ‘There have been a number of changes to legislation that aim to improve the quality of the housing stock. However, some landlords have expressed concern that the new regulations will be costly and will add to the considerable amount of time they already spend dealing with red tape. What we don’t want to see is landlords taking resources away from planned improvements to their properties in order to comply with the new laws, or worse still, selling the properties on which many people, especially the vulnerable, rely.’

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