Real Estate Blog: Upcoming Rental Reform in the PRS Market - Part 2

Following on from our first blog in this two part series, Real Estate Partner Alice Dockar looks at two elements of the proposals in the Renters' Reform Bill - (1) adopting the Decent Homes Standard in the private rented sector and (2) introducing a new Property Portal - which, whilst being well intentioned in offering greater transparency for tenants, may create exposure for landlords that in fact destabilises the PRS market.

Decent Homes Standard

It is proposed that the Decent Homes Standard is adopted into the private rental sector. The Decent Homes Standard is a regulatory standard which already exists in the Social Rented Sector, but there is currently no requirement for PRS properties to meet this standard. It is clear from a case study provided in the White Paper published in June 2022 that the government is looking at the standards in HMOs in particular, as the example given is former B&Bs being converted into PRS properties utilised for HMO purposes. The White Paper envisages this being achieved through more stringent enforcement where poor standards in PRS properties are found which in turn, they say, will increase compliance. However, HMOs are only one element of a much broader PRS market. Separately, given the current sharp increase in energy costs and the impact on heating of homes this winter, it will be interesting to see if the government seeks to use this standard as an opportunity to further address energy efficiency in homes and to further help meet its own net zero target by 2050.

Further digitalisation - new Property Portal

A new Property Portal is also intended to be established. The White Paper states: “Tenants will be able to access necessary information in relation to their landlord's identity and compliance with key legislative requirements, but we do not envisage that all data will be publicly accessible.” Whilst the detail of what is intended to be contained in the Property Portal is awaited, what does seem clear is that the sophistication of this system will be important.

There have been fast and extensive improvements to the HM Land Registry registration processes during the COVID pandemic as well as the recent creation of an overseas entity register, which provides more publicly available information on beneficial ownership of overseas entities which own registered land in England and Wales. The portal will be another system, which if set up effectively, could further streamline the systems containing available data on property ownership, especially if it links to the existing HM Land Registry digital platforms in existence which already contain details of landlord's proprietorship interests.

In case you missed it, please find blog 1 here.

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.

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