Improving tenant safety

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) has announced plans to tighten health and safety standards for rental accommodation in order to ensure that tenants have a safe place to call home.

The Housing Minister, Heather Wheeler, has announced plans to overhaul health and safety standards for rental accommodation to help keep safe the minority of tenants who live in unsatisfactory conditions. The aim of the overhaul is to tackle substandard homes with problems such as inadequate heating or damp.

Local authorities currently use the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to ensure rental properties in their area meet safety standards and are able to force landlords to take action where properties are unsafe. However, the HHSRS has not been updated for some 12 years and the MHCLG is now considering whether an update is required and if so what the extent of any update should be. The review will also consider whether to introduce minimum standards for common health and safety problems in rental properties to tackle unsafe and substandard accommodation.

Ministers have further outlined a review into carbon monoxide alarm requirements in rental properties. Current rules state that alarms must be fitted in rental properties with solid fuel appliances and when solid fuel stoves and boilers are installed.

The review will consider whether the current legislation goes far enough in protecting tenants from the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and whether there should be blanket requirements to install the alarms. Matters such as technological improvements and the falling cost of the alarms will be examined when considering whether to extend the requirement.

Comment

There are no target dates mentioned in this announcement, so we do not know when and how these plans will be implemented. Some would argue that the HHSRS is perfectly adequate for ensuring adequate safety standards in rental properties, and that the problem lies with those that are incapable of implementing it. Whatever the problem, this is a further example of the governments commitment to improving rental standards which can only benefit both landlords and their tenants.

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