3 Raising standards of property and
26. Although we received some evidence suggesting
that standards in the private rented sector had risen in recent
years, we heard concerns
from a number of people about the physical standards of property
in some parts of the sector, and the way in which some landlords
carried out their management responsibilities. In this chapter,
we will consider how local authorities carry out enforcement to
tackle poor standards in property and deal with unscrupulous landlords;
we will then consider the potential of accreditation and licensing
schemes, before looking at safety standards.
Local authority enforcement
27. We heard concerns about unscrupulous landlords
operating in the private rented sector. The housing charity, Shelter,
stated that it had
been campaigning for action to tackle the small but
dangerous minority of rogue landlords who make people's lives
a misery. These landlords condemn their tenants to living in rundown,
unsafe, or overcrowded properties. They will often neglect their
properties, avoiding making the necessary, legal improvements.
Or they will intimidate those who speak out, threatening them
with eviction. Despite an increase in the number of prosecutions
against these landlords, the problem is getting worse.
28. A number of witnesses told us that, while
local authorities had the powers they needed to deal with such
unscrupulous landlords, often these powers were not used effectively.
The Residential Landlords Association noted that "according
to figures from Shelter, just 487 landlords in England were prosecuted
last year; a figure that is remarkably low out of an estimated
1.2 million landlords in total".
It said that "the problem is not a lack of powers, but the
willingness and ability of local authorities to enforce their
29. We did, however, hear some good examples
of local authorities working effectively to raise standards through
targeted enforcement and education work, and the introduction
of licensing and accreditation schemes. We consider some of these
examples below. For
all this good practice, there were concerns that local authorities
were inconsistent in their approach to enforcement.
Kay Boycott, Director of Communications, Policy and Campaigns
at Shelter, said:
There are some good examples out there. In the work
that we have been doing with local authorities over the last two
years, we have seen some waking up to this and putting in some
quite innovative solutions. It would be good if that best practice
The Local Government Information Unit (LGIU), which
had conducted a survey of local government to establish councils'
approaches to the private rented sector, stated that "many
councils are starting to try different approaches, but there appears
to be scope for more coordination with regard to sharing learning".
Mark Prisk, the Housing Minister, said that there was "a
wide variability in enforcement, whether it is trading standards,
environmental health, planning or whatever, and one of the things
I want to encourage is how we can strengthen that, so that good
and best practice becomes more of the norm".
The Local Government Association has responsibilities for co-ordinating
"sector-led improvement" across local government.
30. Some local authorities are
doing excellent work to raise standards in the private rented
sector, but there appears to be more
sharing this good practice, so that all councils are performing
to a high standard. The Local Government Association should, as
part of its sector-led improvement role, make sure that mechanisms
are in place to ensure all councils learn from the good practice
and take effective steps to improve standards of property and
management in the private rented sector.
31. Some witnesses suggested that local authorities
struggled to find resources to carry out enforcement or to promote
improvement in the sector. Pennine Lancashire Councils stated:
The necessity to intervene is growing while at the
same time Council resources needed to respond to the issues discussed
are already over stretched. If it continues this situation will
lead to greater risks to health for tenants and the overall reputation
of the PRS. General existing enforcement powers work, but they
are very time consuming and costly. Some of the Pennine Lancashire
authorities no longer have the capacity to carry out statutory
responsibilities and this has been made worse by the continuing
LGIU, commenting on its survey, concluded that a
"lack of resource is perceived as the biggest barrier to
greater engagement with the PRS, and subsequent improvements in
heard particular concerns about the impact of resource constraints
upon tenancy relations and environmental health officers and on
councils' ability to work proactively.
We are concerned about reports of reductions in staff who have
responsibility for enforcement and tenancy relations and who have
an important role in making approaches to raising standards successful.
Given the financial constraints that councils face, it is important
to identify approaches to raising standards that will not use
up scarce resources. One approach is to ensure that enforcement
arrangements pay for themselves and help to fund wider improvement
activity. Therefore, where possible, the burden of payment should
be placed upon those landlords who flout their responsibilities.
32. Tom Gilchrist from Bristol City Council said
that it "could be an expensive business" for the local
authority to prosecute a landlord. He suggested the introduction
of fixed penalty notices, to make it easier for local authorities
to carry out enforcement:
Penalty charge notices for simple offences would
be so much easier to do. You can give a ticket to a landlord for
relatively minor management offences within the housea
broken electricity supply, a broken fire alarm or storage and
equipment stored in escape routeswhich are going to be
fixed relatively quickly. You can serve a fixed penalty charge
notice on the landlord. If that can be repaired/resolved within
seven days, there is no charge at all.
Others were more doubtful about the use of penalty
charges. John Statham, Head of Housing Partnerships at Leeds City
Council, suggested that "you would need a significant influx
of resources to be issuing fixed penalty notices and then to be
managing whatever happens with the payments or non-payments of
33. We see merit in a system which allows local
authorities to identify minor infringements, and requires fast
remedial action by a landlord which if not carried out would allow
the local authority to impose a penalty charge. It would have
the benefit of achieving improvements and generating resources
to fund authorities' wider work to raise standards in the sector.
that the Government consult on proposals to empower councils to
impose a penalty charge without recourse to court action where
minor housing condition breaches are not remedied within a fixed
period of time, though an aggrieved landlord would have the right
of appeal to a court.
LINKING HOUSING BENEFIT TO STANDARDS
34. Some witnesses suggested that the payment
of housing benefit be made conditional upon landlords meeting
certain standards. Camden Council said that it "would like
to discuss the possibility of benefits that are paid to cover
part or all of rent only being paid to landlords whose properties
meet the decent homes standard".
Camden's Leader, Cllr Sarah Hayward, thought it "scandalous
that my taxpayers' money is spent on people living in sometimes
really very terrible conditions".
35. Other witnesses rejected this approach. John
Statham did not think that housing benefit should be linked to
He said that "housing benefit is there to support the income
of the individual, because they are unable to provide fully for
themselves at that point in time", adding that there were
other mechanisms in place to deal with property standards.
Shelter, in a published briefing note, stated that "restricting
housing benefit because of a landlord's behaviour or a property's
condition would penalise the tenant who would remain legally liable
for the contractual rent" and that tenants would be "put
at risk of arrears, debt and homelessness through no fault of
36. Others were concerned about how such an approach
could be implemented. Ruth Abbott, Housing Standards and Adaptations
Manager for the City of York Council, suggested that the introduction
of Universal Credit would make it harder to link benefits to standards
"because standards are enforced at a local level and benefits
[...] will be administered more centrally".
Mr Prisk questioned the practicality. He warned that, if local
authorities had to clear a property as acceptable before it could
as an HB tenant you might find yourself at a significant
disadvantage when trying to get the property, because someone
who is not an HB tenant will be able to sign without having to
go to the local authority.
Haringey Council agreed that "placing the burden
to ensure compliance before housing benefit (or the subsequent
element of the Universal Credit) is paid, would be unduly cumbersome"
and instead proposed that "authorities are given the power
to reclaim benefits where breaches occur without the requirement
to apply to take enforcement action through the courts".
37. The idea of making the payment of housing
benefit conditional upon landlords meeting certain standards is
of interest. It is concerning that there is a minority of landlords
who, whilst effectively being subsidised by public money, have
little regard for the wellbeing of their tenants or the condition
of the property they let. Nevertheless, to try to withhold payment
of housing benefit would not only be extremely complicated to
administer, but would also unfairly penalise the tenant and could
leave them homeless. Moreover, it is important that the push to
improve standards focuses on the sector as a whole, not just the
housing benefit market. Where, however, housing benefit has been
paid, and a landlord is found to have let substandard property,
the local authority should be able to recoup it. We
recommend that, where landlords are convicted of letting property
below legal standards, local authorities be given the power to
recoup from a landlord an amount equivalent to that paid out to
the tenant in housing benefit (or, in future, universal credit).
We hope that such a measure will help to prevent unscrupulous
landlords from profiting from public money. Local authorities
should be able to retain the money recouped to fund their work
to raise standards. To ensure a consistent approach, those tenants
who have paid rent with their own resources should also have the
right to reclaim this rent when their landlord has been convicted
of letting a substandard property.
38. The Association of Tenancy Relations Officers
(ATRO) said that "unlawful eviction; or the threat of it,
and harassment and intimidation from landlords are at the very
worst end of the scale of bad experiences that a private tenant
Many local authorities, however, were under-using their
powers of prosecution under the Prevention from Eviction Act 1977
(PEA). ATRO stressed
that a "consistently applied, properly resourced PEA prosecution
strategy should be strongly encouraged as a part of any local
authority's private rented and homeless prevention strategies"
and called on the Government to
consider making it a statutory duty for local authorities
to have a coherent policy as to how they will deter, investigate,
and intervene in cases where private tenants are being unlawfully
intimidated and subject to threats of illegal eviction.
We do not agree that a statutory
duty to have to take steps to tackle illegal eviction should be
placed on local authorities, as it would be inconsistent with
a localist approach. Nevertheless, it is again important that
local authorities learn from each other and share best practice
on tackling illegal eviction. The Local Government Association
should ensure that lessons on illegal eviction are learnt and
39. We also heard concerns that in some instances
the police did not understand the law on illegal eviction, wrongly
considering it a purely civil matter, not a criminal offence,
and on occasion even assisting the landlord in removing a tenant.
The North West Housing Practitioners Association said that action
was "urgently required to ensure that the police are properly
trained in dealing with reports of unlawful eviction and should
become equally responsible with local authorities for prosecutions".
concerned that the police are sometimes unaware of their responsibilities
in dealing with reports of illegal eviction. We recommend that
the Department for Communities and Local Government work with
the Home Office on guidance that sets out clearly the role of
the police in enforcement of the Prevention from Eviction Act
Licensing, registration or accreditation
40. One suggested approach to raising standards
in the sector is the licensing of landlords. In 2008, Dr Julie
Rugg and David Rhodes of York University conducted a Government-commissioned
independent review of the contribution and potential of the private
rented sector ("the Rugg Review"). One of the key recommendations
of this Review was a proposal for "light touch licensing
and effective redress". The report of the review stated:
licensing and effective redress can encourage local authorities
to target the very worst landlords, by ensuring that effective
sanctions are in place. A permit or licence would be required
by all landlords, but would be available without any hurdle criteria
on payment of a small fee. Nationally administered, the licence
would be revoked if the landlord did not meet statutory requirements
on housing management and quality. The licence fee income would
finance the establishment of an augmented system of housing redress.
41. Some witnesses were supportive of the Rugg
Review proposal. The British Property Federation, for instance,
said that the proposal for a registration scheme
seemed to offer some prospect of improved communication
with landlords and tenants, rationalisation of local schemes (important
for larger landlords), and effective enforcement. This was to
be achieved by landlords and tenants having to quote the landlord's
registration number in all their transactions with the stateaccess
to the courts, tax returns, benefit claims, tenancy deposit lodgement,
42. Support for a national licensing scheme was
not, however, universal. Some witnesses suggested that local discretion
to introduce licensing schemes would be preferable to a blanket
national approach. Cllr Tony Ball, from the District Councils'
My personal view is that as much discretion to react
to local factors has to be good, because it is not a "one
size fits all"; the issues are not the same up and down the
The Government did not favour a national licensing
scheme. Mark Prisk stated that "a national scheme can be
very rigid and not reflect local circumstances".
43. The idea of national
licensing has some merit, and such a scheme could bring a number
of benefits, particularly if introduced alongside an effective
system of redress. It is clear, however, that the Government has
not been convinced by these arguments, and we have some sympathy
with the Minister's assertion that a national scheme could be
very rigid. Having tailored local schemes may bring its own costs,
especially for landlords operating across several areas, but on
balance we would prefer to see local authorities develop their
own approaches to licensing or accreditation in accordance with
local needs. The Government's focus should be on giving local
authorities greater flexibility and encouraging the use of existing
powers. In the
following paragraphs, we consider areas in which additional flexibility
could be provided.
44. The Housing Act 2004 provides for the introduction
of a scheme of selective licensing of private landlords in a local
housing authority's area. Where such a scheme is in place, all
private landlords must obtain a licence and, if they fail to do
so or to achieve acceptable management standards, the authority
can take enforcement action.
The Housing Act 2004 sets out two sets of general conditions under
which an area can be "designated" for selective licensing.
First, that "the area is, or is likely to become, an area
of low housing demand; and that making a designation will, when
combined with other measures [...] contribute to the improvement
of the social or economic conditions in the area".
Second, that "that the area is experiencing a significant
and persistent problem caused by anti-social behaviour; that some
or all of the private sector landlords [...] are failing to take
action to combat the problem [...]; and that making a designation
will, when combined with other measures [...] lead to a reduction
in, or the elimination of, the problem".
In 2010, the Government published a "general consent"
enabling local authorities to introduce selective licensing without
first seeking approval from the Secretary of State.
45. During our visit to Leeds, we visited the
Cross Green area of the city where a selective licensing scheme
was in place. John Statham, the council's Head of Housing Partnerships,
said that the focus extended beyond property standards towards
"trying to tackle issues in the area, whether that is crime
and disorder or fly-tipping, as well as to tackle the standards
in properties". The scheme was seen as a success and Mr Statham
said that a number of landlords had been prosecuted, and that
"antisocial behaviour and general environmental issues in
the area have improved significantly as a result of the work".
There was also broad support for selective licensing from the
group of landlords we met in Leeds.
46. More controversially, a landlord licensing
scheme has been introduced across the whole of the London Borough
of Newham. The council said that it was
concerned about increasing levels of anti-social
behaviour associated with those rented properties that fail to
meet satisfactory levels of tenancy and property management. The
benefit of having a mandatory scheme is it will ensure poor landlords
have nowhere to hide so we can target our enforcement action on
them. We will also be creating a level playing field for good
landlords, where they will no longer be undercut by landlords
who do not manage their properties correctly.
There was some unease, particularly amongst landlords,
about Newham's scheme, and in particular its potential impact
upon investment in the sector. Richard Lambert, Chief Executive
Officer of the National Landlords Association referred to anecdotal
evidence from his members that "lenders are reluctant or
actively telling them that they will not lend on properties in
a borough area that has selective licensing".
Some landlords were concerned that they were required to complete
a form for each property they owned. Andrew Cunningham, Chief
Executive of Grainger plc, said that Grainger had to "fill
in 60 forms. All we would ask is that, if we have 60 properties,
we fill in one form and list 60 addresses".
He said that, while he did not think investors would "flood
out of the borough" as a result of the scheme, nevertheless
if you are looking to invest in various places, if
there are exactly equivalent properties in two boroughs, one where
you have to spend an hour filling in a form and spend some money
on fees and one where you do not, then investors will go to that
Newham let us have sight of its form,
which we were surprised to find was such a substantial document
being 11 pages, and accompanied by a further 32 pages of guidance.
47. Newham Council told us that it was a legislative
requirement to complete a separate form for each property, although
the electronic version of its form was designed to reduce the
burden on landlords registering multiple properties.
Newham said that it would "advocate simplification of the
licensing process" and "would like to see a significant
decrease in the burden placed on landlords and local authorities
in administering licensing applications".
Leeds City Council also considered the process of introducing
selective licensing to be very laborious and said that the scheme
in just one area had taken two years "to develop and get
approved at a cost of around £100k to the authority".
It also pointed out that selective licensing was "specific
to management issues and does not cover standards".
48. Other local authorities said that they were
unable to use selective licensing as a tool for raising standards
because their areas did not meet the criteria under which it could
be introduced. Cllr Sarah Hayward, Leader of Camden Council, stated:
The criteria need to be broader. For any licensing
scheme to really work, it probably needs to cover everybody or
a majority of people, so you get the good practice buying into
the scheme, as well as using it as a stick with which to beat
the bad landlords.
Mr Prisk said that if there was
a good argument demonstrated that a significant proportion
of local authorities would welcome something going beyond low
demand and antisocial behaviourin other words, other circumstances
they are finding they would like to approachI would certainly
be happy to look at the evidence, absolutely.
49. Selective licensing can be an effective tool
for dealing with poor property management and making wider improvements
to the local area. At present, however, local authorities are
limited in the circumstances in which they can introduce it, and
the legislative requirements can make it burdensome for both local
authorities and landlords. Local authorities should have greater
freedom over when selective licensing can be introduced and the
information they require landlords to provide. We
recommend that the Government bring forward proposals for a reformed
approach to selective licensing, which gives councils greater
freedom over when licensing schemes can be introduced and more
flexibility over how they are implemented. Councils should ensure
that the cost of a licence is not set so high as to discourage
investment in the sector.
50. A number of witnesses suggested that landlord
accreditation schemes were an effective way of raising standards
in the sector. We heard about a number of accreditation schemes,
including ones run by local authorities, the Residential Landlords
Association and the National Landlords Association (NLA).
The landlords we met in Leeds spoke very highly of the accreditation
scheme run by the City Council, which they believed had helped
to raise standards and drive out bad landlords. It also provided
education and training to landlords. The NLA told us that its
allows tenants to seek redress if the landlord does
not meet their obligations in the tenancy agreement. If the NLA
receives a complaint from a tenant, we will investigate, and if
we find that the landlord has fallen short of the standards expected
in our Code of Practice, will recommend the action that they should
take to rectify the situation.
It added that "if the landlord refused to accept
or act on the decision of the complaint investigation, they would
face removal from the accreditation scheme and potentially expulsion
from membership of the NLA".
51. A number of witnesses favoured a system of
self-regulation through accreditation. Professor Partington told
us that the Law Commission had proposed a system of "'enhanced
self-regulation' developed by all key stakeholders: landlords,
agents, local authorities and tenants"; this system would
include "greater use of accreditation schemes".
The Mayor of London wished "to establish a set of voluntary
yet ambitious standards that renters should expect from any accreditation
scheme operating in the capital, matched with benefits for landlords
and agents to join".
Accordingly, he had published a Draft London Rental Standard for
52. There was some concern that the accreditation
schemes currently in place, being voluntary, tended to include
only conscientious landlords. The District Councils' Network,
for instance, said that voluntary accreditation schemes "tend
to attract landlords who are already maintaining a good standard
of accommodation and management".
Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, told us that, when his Borough
had introduced voluntary accreditation, only 600 of a known 15,000
landlords had joined the scheme.
53. Members of landlord accreditation schemes,
those run by local authorities and those run by landlords' associations,
speak positively of the benefits they offer. Membership of these
schemes is, however, voluntary and they tend not to include unscrupulous
or 'accidental' landlords. There may be a case in some areas for
local authorities to require landlords to be part of such a scheme.
We recommend that the Government
give local authorities a power to require landlords to be members
of an accreditation scheme run either by the council itself or
by a recognised landlords association.
Other approaches: neighbourhood working
54. Leeds City Council decided against further
discretionary licensing and has introduced a neighbourhood approach
which was "seen as more flexible than licensing".
This approach targeted "neighbourhoods on a street by street
basis addressing the area as whole and dealing with standards
in the private rented sector as well as empty homes".
The approach included close work with partner organisations,
the provision of help, advice and mentoring, and an intention
to inspect all private rented properties in an area to ensure
they met minimum standards. The council stated that the approach
was "seen as more flexible than licensing [and] can target
a single street or 4/5 streets over a 6/9 month period rather
than have a scheme for up to 5 years".
Blackpool Council had similarly developed an area based approach.
It considered this to be "resource intensive but [...] cost
effective because it identifies and deals with problems rather
than just moving them on to other areas."
55. It is important that local
authorities have options and tools to raise standards in their
areas. Three particular options are: (1) greater use of landlord
licensing schemes; (2) compulsory accreditation; and (3) taking
a proactive neighbourhood approach to raising standards. In each
of these cases, given resource constraints, the schemes have to
pay for themselves, and, as far as possible, place the burden
of payment on the unscrupulous landlords, with financial deterrents
for non-compliance. Councils should be given the powers to impose
heavy penalties on those who do not register for licensing or
compulsory accreditation after appropriate notification. Neighbourhood
approaches could be funded by local authorities recouping costs
from landlords whose properties fail to meet minimum standards.
We further recommend that the Government initiate a review of
the fines imposed by the courts for letting substandard properties,
to ensure they act as a sufficient deterrent.
Houses in Multiple Occupation
56. Historically and for good reasons Houses
in Multiple Occupation have been treated as a distinct category
of housing, certain types of which require greater regulation
than the rest of the private rented sector. Larger houses in multiple
occupation (HMO) are currently subject to mandatory licensing:
"prescribed" HMOs requiring a licence are defined as
those comprising three or more storeys, and occupied by
five or more persons living in two or more single households.
Local authorities are also able to introduce an additional licensing
scheme to other types of HMO providing certain conditions are
met. As with selective
licensing, the Government has published a general consent enabling
local authorities to introduce additional licensing without seeking
the approval of the Secretary of State.
57. Some evidence suggested that the definition
of prescribed HMOs was too narrow. The National HMO Lobby proposed
that "HMOs comprising either three or more storeys
or five or more occupants should be subject to mandatory
Newcastle City Council went further, saying that it would "like
to see the licensing requirement extended to all classes and sizes
of HMOs in line with the scheme operational in Scotland".
Others suggested that there should be a review of the effectiveness
of mandatory licensing. The NLA said that there was "a growing
awareness that there has been very little review or assessment
of the effectiveness of mandatory licensing since its implementation"
and that "a comprehensive review of licensing would be greatly
welcomed by those investing in shared housing".
58. Given the heightened safety issues that can
arise in larger HMOs, there remains a case for a national requirement
for mandatory licensing, alongside the greater flexibilities for
local authorities proposed above. It may, however, be timely to
review the processes for mandatory licensing of HMOs, particularly
if there is to be a broader review of the regulation governing
the private rented sector as we recommend. We
recommend that the Government conduct a review of the mandatory
licensing of houses in multiple occupation. This review should
consider, amongst other things, evidence of the effectiveness
of mandatory licensing, how well it is enforced, and whether the
definition of a prescribed HMO should be modified.
59. We heard some concerns about high concentrations
of houses in multiple occupation in particular areas. The National
HMO Lobby stated that it was
not uncommon, not only for whole streets, but also
for whole areas, to become dominated by student HMOs: in Headingley
in Leeds, for instance, there are a hundred streets where the
student population outnumbers residents. This process has become
known as 'studentification'.
It listed a number of social and environmental impacts
that arise when HMOs are concentrated in a particular area. These
included crime, vandalism and anti-social behaviour, parking problems
We received a number of representations from people concerned
about similar issues in their community.
60. Liam Burns, President of the National Union
of Students, however, questioned the National HMO Lobby's assumptions,
stating that "nobody knows how many HMOs are out there; hence,
it is not factual to say there is a causal link between antisocial
behaviour and HMOs".
He added that "many HMOs are simply not just about students",
and also pointed out that student unions did a lot of work to
promote positive work between students and the communities they
Article 4 directions
61. A number of local authorities have sought
to address problems with high concentrations of HMOs through the
use of Article 4 directions to remove permitted development rights
allowing change of use from dwellinghouse to small HMO.
Newcastle City Council had introduced an Article 4 direction in
some parts of the city and considered it "a useful tool for
local authorities to call on to try and re-balance the housing
market in areas experiencing high levels of private renting".
62. Others, however, were opposed to the use
of Article 4 directions and suggested that they had a negative
impact upon supply.
The Residential Landlords Association, for instance, said that
they were "being misused and should be repealed to alleviate
the restriction on supply, protect the asset values of residents'
homes and allow people to choose where they want to live".
63. There are clearly concerns in some communities
about high concentrations of HMOs and their social and environmental
impact. Local authorities should be able to respond to these concerns
by using Article 4 directions to remove permitted development
rights and so limit the concentration of HMOs. In some cases,
the use of Article 4 could impact upon supply. However, local
authorities are well placed to weigh up the arguments and make
a judgment based on local circumstances.
Where there are community concerns about high concentrations of
houses in multiple occupation, councils should have the ability
to control the spread of HMOs. Such issues should be a matter
for local determination. We therefore consider it appropriate
that councils continue to have the option to use Article 4 directions
to remove permitted development rights allowing change of use
64. It should not be left solely to local authorities,
however, to address the consequences of high concentrations of
students. Universities have
a responsibility to ensure that student housing does not have
a detrimental impact upon local communities. They should be working
with local authorities and student groups to ensure that there
is sufficient housing in appropriate areas and that students act
as responsible householders and members of the community.
65. We heard concerns about electrical safety
within the private rented sector. The Electrical Safety Council
(ESC) told us that there were "numerous cases of landlords
failing to provide safe electrical installations and appliances,
thereby compromising the wellbeing and safety of tenants".
There were some calls for electrical safety regulation along the
lines of the gas safety certificate schemes.
The ESC recommended
that landlords have a full wiring check carried out
on their property by a competent person every five years as an
effective means of enhancing safety. We believe this should be
required by law, with an add-on specifying the need for visual
checks on change of tenancy (if occurring before the 5-year cycle
It also said that "electrical appliances should
be subject to a combined inspection and test at least every 5
66. Mark Prisk did not see the need for further
regulation on electrical safety. He referred to "the 1985
Landlord and Tenant Act, which specifically requires that all
installations, whether it is gas, water or electricity, are maintained
in good repair and working order" and said that that was
"probably the right place to stay in".
We consider, however, that there is a case at least for confirming
that electrical installations are in order. A check of the wiring
every five years is not going to place a significant additional
burden on landlords. We
recommend that the Government work with the electrical industry
to develop an electrical safety certificate for private rented
properties. To obtain such a certificate, properties should be
required to have a full wiring check every five years and a visual
wiring check on change of tenancy. Landlords should be aware of
the legal requirement to provide safe installations and appliances.
67. A number of other ideas for improving safety
were put to us. Evidence from the Association of Residential Letting
Agents included a suggestion from one of its members for
Smoke alarms to be made compulsory as they are in
Scotland. Similarly carbon monoxide alarms, fire blankets, and
extinguishers, should also be required [in] all rented properties.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Carbon Monoxide
recommended that all rented properties be required to have an
audible carbon monoxide detector manufactured to the European
Standard EN 50921 and that gas engineers be mandated to test appliances
for the presence of carbon monoxide.
In our 2012 report, Building Regulations applying to electrical
and gas installations and repairs in dwellings, we recommended
Part J [of the Building Regulations] should [...]
require audible, wired-up EN 50291-compliant carbon monoxide alarms
to be fitted wherever a relevant heating appliance is installed
in any new-build or existing homes.
We consider such a requirement to be particularly
important in the private rented sector. In addition, smoke alarms
are available at very low cost but can make an enormous difference
to safety in the home. We
recommend that the Government introduce a requirement for all
private rented properties to be fitted with a working smoke alarm
and, wherever a relevant heating appliance is installed, an audible,
wired-up EN 50291 compliant carbon monoxide alarm.
41 See, for example, Ev 299, para 1 [Department for
Communities and Local Government], Ev w172 [Colin Wardle], Ev
w183 [Reads Davies Estate Agents & Valuers], Ev 190 [Royal
Institution of Chartered Surveyors]. Back
Ev 137, para 20 Back
Ev 152, para 3.3 Back
As above Back
See also Ev 143 [Local Government Association] for further examples
of good practice. Back
See, for example, Ev w271, para 48 [Houselet Direct]. Back
Q 60 Back
Ev w342 Back
Q 707 Back
Local Government Association website: www.local.gov.uk/sector-led-improvement Back
Ev w76-77, para 4.17 [Pennine Lancashire Local Authorities];
see also, for example, Ev w28, para 3 [Nicholas Nicol], Ev w30
[Luke Gidney], Ev w65, para 3.1 [Calderdale Metropolitan Borough
Council], Ev 214, para 4.17 [Blackpool Borough Council], Ev 308
[Note of meeting with tenants in Leeds]. Back
Ev w342, para 11 Back
See, for example, Ev w113 [Save the Children UK], Ev 158, para
2.20 [Citizens Advice], Ev 288, para 5.2 [District Councils' Network],
Evs w310 and w312, paras 4.1 and 5.3 [Royal Borough of Kensington
and Chelsea]. Back
Q 270 Back
Q 554 Back
Ev 294 Back
Q 668 Back
Q 564 Back
Q 563 Back
Shelter, Policy Briefing: Rewarding Rogues? Housing benefit
and rogue landlords, September 2012, p 2 Back
Q 565 Back
Q 747 Back
Ev w224-w225, para 3.10 Back
Ev w195, para 2.2 Back
Ev w195-w196, para 2.6 Back
Ev w197, para 3.2-3 Back
See, for example, Ev w59 [Tessa Shepperson], Ev w164 [Digs],
Ev w196, para 2.7 [Association of Tenancy Relations Officers],
Ev w249, para 14 [North West Housing Law Practitioners Association]. Back
Ev w249, para 14 Back
Julie Rugg and David Rhodes, The Private Rented Sector, Its
Contribution and Potential, Centre for Housing Policy University
of York, 2008, p xxiii Back
Ev 245, para 4.5 Back
Q 641 Back
Q 708 Back
Housing Act 2004 as interpreted in Selective Licensing of
Privately Rented Housing, House of Commons Library Standard
Note SN/SP/4634, 16 June 2010 Back
Housing Act 2004, section 80(3) Back
Housing Act 2004, section 80(6) Back
The Housing Act 2004 Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation
and Selective Licensing of other Residential Accommodation (England)
General Approval 2010; see also "John Healey: Greater
council powers to give housing help for private tenants",
DCLG press release, 1 April 2010; see also: Selective Licensing
of Private Rented Housing", House of Commons Library Standard
Note SN/SP/4634, 16 June 2010. Back
Q 529; for more information on the outcomes of the scheme so
far, see Ev 268 [Leeds City Council]. Back
Ev 308 Back
Ev 223, para 2.1 Back
Q 344 Back
As above Back
As above Back
Form supplied to the Committee (unpublished) Back
Newham Council, Private Rented Property Licensing Guide for
Landlords and Managing Agents, available at www.newham.gov.uk Back
Ev 236 Back
As above Back
Ev 268 Back
As above Back
Q 679 Back
Q 711 Back
See Ev 151, para 1.1 [Residential Landlords Association], Ev
226, para 26 [National Landlords Association] and Ev 296 [London
Borough of Camden]. Back
Ev 230 Back
As above Back
Ev 130, para 3.10 Back
Ev 238 Back
"Mayor sets out proposals to empower tenants and landlords
in the private rented sector", Greater London Authority press
release, 13 December 2012 Back
Ev 288, para 5.1 Back
Q 331 Back
Ev 268 Back
As above Back
As above Back
Ev 214, para 4.19 Back
The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Descriptions)
England Order 2006 (SI 2006/371) Back
The Housing Act 2004 Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation
and Selective Licensing of other Residential Accommodation (England)
General Approval 2010 See also Department for Communities and
Local Government, Approval steps for additional and selective
licensing designations in England, November 2006, p 4 and
Houses in Multiple Occupation House of Commons Library
Standard Note, SN/SP/708, November 2010, p 14. Back
Housing Act 2004, section 56; see also Houses in Multiple
Occupation, House of Commons Library Standard Note, SN/SP/708,
November 2010, p 15. Back
Ev 283, para 20 Back
Ev w184 Back
Ev 226 Back
Ev 281, para 7 Back
Ev 281, paras 8.1-2 Back
See, for example, Ev w15 [Lorraine Barter], Ev w17 [Stewart Morris],
Ev w146 [Nottingham Action Group on HMOs], Ev w279 [Storer and
Ashby Residents' Group]. Back
Q 612 Back
As above Back
Q 611 Back
Article 4 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted
Development) Order 1995 allows local authorities to remove permitted
development rights. In these instances, local authorities have
removed permitted development rights allowing change of use from
dwellinghouse (class C3) to HMO (class C4). Planning permission
is therefore required when change of use from C3 to C4 is sought. Back
Ev w184; see also, for example, Ev 266 [Leeds City Council],
Ev 257-258, para 21 [City of York Council], Ev w223, para 2.6
[Haringey Council], Ev w305, para 1.4 [Nottingham City Council]. Back
See, for example, Ev w23 [Finders Keepers], Ev w98 [SpareRoom],
Ev 275, para 30 [National Union of Students], Ev w231 [Nottingham
Students Union]. Back
Ev 152, para 2.7 Back
Ev w287, overview Back
See, for example, Ev w 48, para 4.2 [Keith Williams], Ev 147,
para 220.127.116.11 [National Private Tenants Organisation]. Back
Ev w288, para 12 Back
Ev w289, para 17 Back
Q 712 Back
Ev 171, Annex 4; see also Ev 147, para 18.104.22.168.1 [National Private
Tenants Association]. Back
Ev w319 Back
Communities and Local Government Committee, Tenth Report of Session
2010-12, Building Regulations applying to electrical and gas
installations in dwellings, HC 1851, para 24 Back