England’s special housing reforms are welcome, but what about private renters?

Lucy Cooper (Student)

Many people are happy to see that the government intends to improve social housing, however many people are raising the question why private renters should not get the same measures. In a recent white paper, the government have announced that reforms will include checks of the quality of homes and repairs and how the landlord engages with tenants and their handling of complaints.

The current law that is in place is the decent homes standard 2006 (which is the law that will be reformed) currently some of the standards set out that all social homes should have: 

  • an indoor bathroom and toilet, which should be replaced every 30 years
  • Kitchens must have an appropriate amount of workspace 
  • Adequate insulation against external noise
  • Adequate size and layout of common areas in flats.

As stated, the above only applied to social home. The issue still remains that people who privately rent, fewer properties meet the existing standard. Housing benefit is assessed on what is a reasonable amount of rent to pay goes on not the size of the building but as long as the bedrooms are above the minimum habitable size then it doesn’t matter how big the overall size of the property is.  

Sadly, thousands of individuals are still living in poor conditions and don’t know their rights when it comes to the minimum requirements for their home. Many people don’t know that it is a landlord’s requirement to fix these hazards to make sure your home is safe including: 

  • damp and mould 
  • excess cold
  • blocked drains
  • water leaks and blocked toilets
  • roof leaks
  • electrical hazards

It is always good to first reach out to your landlord to see if they can help you with the repairs. However, if you have exhausted all options the final route is to take the landlord to court. The court can order your landlord to carry out repairs, pay compensation and make an unsafe property fit to live in. if you do take your issue to court it is important to be well prepared, ensure that you keep all letter and emails to your landlord, take photos of the disrepair, damage or bad conditions, keep receipts for any items you had to replace and obtain medical reports if your health has suffered.

If you have experienced any of these issues and require more advice at Staffordshire Legal Advice Clinic (SULAC) we offer free legal advice. Students are supervised by a qualified solicitor, if you wish to book an appointment with us, then please either call us on 01782 294800 or email us at SULAC@staffs.ac.uk. 

 

 

 

 

 

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