The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) strongly welcomes new recommendations by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as a result of their inquiry into the private rented sector.
Published today, 13 April, the PAC report recommends:
- The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) should conduct a realistic assessment of the resources needed for local authorities to regulate effectively the types and quality of private rented properties and the demographics of renters. Updating on the outcome of this assessment within 6 months.
- DLUHC should take a more proactive approach to support local regulators and share good practice. To do so, it should learn from other consumer protection systems that provide central intelligence and support to local regulators.
- As part of its planned reforms, DLUHC should assess whether current arrangements for licensing schemes are working and whether alternative arrangements may be more efficient and effective.
Selective licensing schemes are set up by a minority of local authorities in their areas in order to improve housing conditions in the private rented sector. An independent review of selective licensing was commissioned by DLUHC in 2018, with a report and recommendations being produced in 2019.
The review found that schemes were effective at improving housing conditions in designated areas. However, there has been no formal response from the Department or the taking up of the recommendations. Some of the recommendations would make it easier for local authorities to set up a new selective licensing scheme in their areas.
Tamara Sandoul, CIEH Policy and Campaigns Manager, said:
“We strongly welcome the recommendations made by the Public Accounts Committee. Particularly, we would like to see more support from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities for local authorities’ housing enforcement teams and their available powers and resources.
Whilst resources at local authorities have been stretched for a number of years, there is also a lack of qualified environmental health practitioners to carry out inspections. This needs to be turned around to ensure that vulnerable tenants have access to protection from dangerous housing conditions.
The UK Government has also not yet taken forward the recommendations of its own commissioned review of selective licensing schemes, from 2019, in order to make it easier for local authorities to use their powers to improve housing standards.
We strongly welcome more direct support for local authorities via the sharing of national good practice and guidance, as well as targeted support for local authorities who are not performing as well as others in terms of enforcement.”