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Private Rented Housing: Standards

Volume 497: debated on Tuesday 13 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate he has made of the number of privately owned properties which meet the Decent Homes standard. (290230)

The English House Condition Survey estimates that 11.75 million privately owned properties in England met the Decent Homes standard in 2007 (the most recently available estimate from the survey). These properties comprised 64 per cent. of all privately owned in England.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent steps the Government has taken to ensure private landlords comply with health and safety legislation in their properties. (291520)

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is a risk-based evaluation tool to help local authorities identify and protect against potential risks and hazards to health and safety from any deficiencies identified in dwellings. It was introduced under the Housing Act 2004 and came into effect on 6 April 2006. It applies to residential properties in England including those in the private rented sector.

The HHSRS assesses 29 categories of housing hazard, each hazard has a weighting which will help determine whether the property is rated as having category 1 (serious) or category 2 (other) hazards. Local authorities are responsible for the local implementation and enforcement of the HHSRS. If a property is found to contain serious hazards, the local authority has a duty to take the most appropriate action in relation to the hazard.

The Housing Act 2004 also introduced mandatory houses in multiple occupation (HMO) licensing which places a duty on private landlords of licensable HMOs to ensure that their properties meet basic health and safety standards.

There are a choice of enforcement options which are available to local authorities. The route followed is for the authority to decide, having regard to statutory enforcement guidance.