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Impact of The Levelling up White Paper on The Private Rented Market

Priya Sejpal, property litigation expert and senior associate at BLM, comments

On 2 February 2022 the government unveiled its long-anticipated Levelling Up White Paper, an extensive document that sets out how it will complete a ‘system change’ of how the government works, in an effort to level up ‘forgotten’ communities across the UK.

Led by Michael Gove, there are several proposed changes within the document aimed directly towards the private rental sector, with an intention to improve overall quality of housing in the UK by 2030 and reduce the strain on tenant-landlord relationships. More specifically, it sets out to address poor housing standards, more easily identify rogue landlords and, most controversially, remove Section 21 notices.

Decent House Standard
Announced as part of its pledge to improve overall housing quality, the paper sets out that landlords in the private rental sector will have to adhere to the Decent House Standard as a minimum requirement. If delivered, this would mean increased regulation on landlords once their property is let. Residents would be given access to more performance information and therefore can hold landlords accountable for issues more easily.

That said, the mechanics around this still need to be established and we are yet to be provided with a clear definition of what constitutes a ‘decent home’. It is also unclear what the repercussions – namely bans or fines – will be for landlords, if they fail to adhere to new standards. In order for these new measures to work as the government intends, tenants will need to feel empowered to hold landlords to account.

Whilst these standards - and the scheme generally - requires finessing, they do fit in well with the New Homes Quality Code that was launched in December 2021, which aims to help buyers with any issues or snags they have with their new build properties after sale.

National register for landlords
In keeping with its promise to crackdown on ‘rogue landlords’, the government also announced that it is exploring a new national register for landlords.

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