Responding to the publication of the new report from the Communities, Housing and Local Government Select Committee into the private rented sector, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has welcomed the findings and urged the Government to take up the recommendations.
The report acknowledged the value environmental health professionals place on the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), but also highlighted how the system is unnecessarily complicated and fails to give tenants, landlords, and agents, a clear understanding of the minimum standards that are expected in a private rented property.
Considering that the evidence base for the guidance on HHSRS is now 12 years out of date, the Committee recommended that an immediate update is necessary.
The Committee also concluded that the power between landlords and renters needs re-balancing, and that protections against retaliatory evictions, rent increases, and harassment, must be provided for vulnerable tenants.
Tamara Sandoul, Housing Policy Manager at CIEH, said:
“We welcome the findings in this review of the private rented sector and call on the Government to take up recommendations.”
“In particular, we are delighted that our recommendation for HHSRS to be reviewed and updated has been taken forward and echoed by the Committee. HHSRS is a valuable tool used by environmental health professionals to assess housing quality, but the accompanying guidance and evidence base is desperately in need of an update to ensure it works as well in practice as it was intended.”
“We also strongly support the call to improve legislation aimed at protecting tenants from retaliation by their landlords and agents. At the moment, the legislation is wholly inadequate and tenants often don’t feel able to complain about poor housing conditions.”
“The benchmarking scheme for local authorities on their work to improve housing conditions in their areas is also a step in the right direction, and should encourage consistency between areas and encourage those lagging behind to allocate adequate resources to their housing teams.”
“In all, this is a very promising report which we hope will be taken forward.”