The government began consultation on the detail of proposals for implementation of the Housing Standards Review and, in particular, the technical standards that the government planned to put in place. The consultation would close on 7 November 2014.
Source: Housing Standards Review: Technical consultation, Department for Communities and Local Government
A code of practice for landlords in the private rented sector was published, to encourage provision of accommodation at a standard above the minimum legal requirements and in line with industry best practice.
Source: Private Rented Sector Code of Practice, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
An article examined space standards for housing in England, comparing the size of existing dwellings with a modern space standard. It said that between 21 and 55 per cent of dwellings failed to meet the standard, that flats and small terraced houses were most commonly below it, and that dwellings were frequently found to be under-occupied in comparison with the number of bedrooms. The article considered the implications for the spare room subsidy (commonly referred to as the 'bedroom tax') and said that households in receipt of housing benefit were more likely to be undersized, which raised questions about the policy of withdrawing benefits for spare rooms.
Source: Malcolm Morgan and Heather Cruickshank, 'Quantifying the extent of space shortages: English dwellings', Building Research & Information, Volume 42 Number 6
A report provided findings from an independent evaluation of the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target and the Community Energy Savings Programme, which were two initiatives aimed at improving energy efficiency in domestic households in Britain.
Source: Ipsos MORI, CAG Consultants, UCL, and Energy Saving Trust, Evaluation of the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target and Community Energy Saving Programme, Department for Energy and Climate Change
A report examined how to improve standards in the private rented housing sector, and the potential role of incentives to landlords. The report recommended: a review of the statutory minimum legal standards, and their enforcement; regulation of letting agents; an end to lettings fees; a nationally agreed set of standards for the accreditation of landlords; and a range of incentives, including conditional tax reliefs.
Source: More Than a Roof: How incentives can improve standards in the private rented sector, Chartered Institute of Housing/Resolution Foundation
Two reports provided the findings from advisory stakeholder working groups on proposed energy efficiency regulations under the Energy Act 2011 for the domestic and non-domestic private rented sectors.
Source: The Domestic Private Rented Sector Regulations Working Group ï¿½ Report to Government, Domestic Private Rented Sector (PRS) Regulations Working Group
Source: The Non-Domestic Minimum Building Energy Performance Standards Working Group – Report to Government, Non-Domestic Private Rented Sector (PRS) Regulations Working Group
A private member's Bill was published that was designed to improve access to public buildings and to introduce six and twelve inch rules for step-free access.
Source: Equality Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill, Lord Blencathra, TSO
A report examined requirements for electrical safety in private rented accommodation in England. It said that there was currently no requirement for professional certification of electrical systems (apart from in houses in multiple occupation), and called for the introduction of mandatory, certified, five-yearly checks, and for Residual Current Device (RCD) protection to be required within all properties. The report said that enforcement through local authorities would be vital, as would the introduction of restrictions to prevent section 21 eviction notices being served on tenants who complained about poor conditions in their home.
Source: Martha Mackenzie, Home Improvement: Tackling poor electrical safety in the private rented sector, Shelter
A report summarized results of a research project that calculated the cost of poor quality housing in London. It said that conditions varied considerably both between and within boroughs and that housing in some areas was significantly worse than both the national and London average. The report said that improvements to the housing stock could save the National Health Service £56 million per year, and that the overall savings could amount to over £140 million if costs related to living in poor housing (such as lack of educational attainment, lost work days, additional cost to the emergency and social services, and additional energy and insurance costs) were included.
Source: Helen Garrett, Maggie Davidson, Simon Nicol, Mike Ross, and Claire Summers, The Cost of Poor Housing in London, BRE Press
A report examined the reduction in costs to the National Health Service as a result of improvements to social housing arising from the Decent Homes programme (2001-2010). The report also considered the additional social costs of poor quality homes, the impact of other housing-related safety hazards, the work required to resolve remaining non-decent homes, and the sustainability of existing good standards.
Source: Helen Garrett, Maggie Davidson, Mike Roys, Simon Nicol, and Viv Mason, Quantifying the Health Benefits of the Decent Homes Programme, BRE Press
A consultation paper was issued, setting out a draft code of practice for the private rented sector. The consultation would close on 30 April 2014.
Source: Draft Industry Code of Practice – Private Rented Sector Code (PRS Code), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
An article examined how European country-level economic disparity and housing conditions related to one another, and whether they differentially correlated with child injury mortality. Child injury mortality rates were found to correlate strongly with both country-level income inequality and housing strain, with very small age-specific differences.
Source: Mathilde Sengoelge, Marie Hasselberg, David Ormandy, and Lucie Laflamme, 'Housing, income inequality and child injury mortality in Europe: a cross-sectional study', Child: Care, Health and Development, Volume 40 Number 2
A report examined students' experiences of the private rented sector in the United Kingdom. It said that over three quarters had experienced at least one problem with the condition of their home, most commonly damp but also infestations of mice, slugs, and other creatures. More than half had experienced delays in repairs and around half said that their property was inadequately insulated, or was draughty. Of those who had left a property, 43 per cent said that they had some or all of their deposit withheld. When asked what they would like to see changed, 66 per cent said they wanted a minimum condition standard, 52 per cent said a ban on letting agent fees, and 51 per cent wanted more services to ensure landlords/agents fulfilled their duties. The report made a range of recommendations, including for the banning of letting agent fees and regulation of letting agents across the United Kingdom; more co-ordinated support for students who experience difficulties; support for energy efficiency; and accreditation schemes for student property.
Source: Homes Fit for Study: The state of student housing in the UK, National Union of Students
A survey of private sector tenants in Britain found that more than half (52 per cent) said their biggest problem as renters was the existing cost of rent, with 39 per cent of respondents saying that rent levels caused them to limit heating their property, and 33 per cent saying that they cut back on food. The survey found that one in three (33 per cent) said they lived in properties with unacceptable dampness.
The government published a summary of responses to its review of housing standards in England, and announced a range of changes, including: the reduction of the number of building standards; changing regulations regarding the inspection of work; developing a national space standard to be 'available to councils where there was a need and where this would not stop development'; and developing a new standard for security in new homes. Legislative change would be taken forward through the Deregulation Bill that was currently going through parliament.
Source: Housing Standards Review: Summary of responses, Department for Communities and Local Government
An article examined how a people-centred, design-led approach could enhance quality of life of adults with autism through informing the design of space, objects, and activities. It looked at three projects that had developed such methods. The journal also published a short commentary on the article, by Tony Osgood.
Source: C Lowe, Kate Gaudion, Chris McGinley, and Alex Kew, 'Designing living environments with adults with autism', Tizard Learning Disability Review, Volume 19 Number 2
A report examined the extent of poor conditions in the private rented sector in England. It said that one-third of private rented sector homes did not meet the Decent Homes Standard, but fear of retaliatory eviction was a major barrier to tenants' reporting of problems. The report said that one in eight renters had not asked for repairs to be carried out in their homes, or challenged a rent increase, in the previous year because they feared eviction. The report called for the government to restrict the use of Section 21 Possession Notices (which could be used to end an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement without having to show any grounds) when renters reported disrepair, and supported the use of rent repayment orders for tenants who had lived in properties with serious hazards.
Source: Hannah Gousy, Can't Complain: Why poor conditions prevail in private rented homes, Shelter
The government published a discussion paper on property conditions in the private rented sector in England, inviting comments on a range of issues and policy options, including: rights and responsibilities; retaliatory eviction; rent repayment orders; safety conditions; licensing; and rating systems. Responses were invited to be made by 21 March 2014.
Source: Review of Property Conditions in the Private Rented Sector, Department for Communities and Local Government
A report examined the housing conditions of minority-ethnic households in England. It said that, in 2010, around 15 per cent of minority-ethnic households lived in a home with at least one Category 1 Housing Health and Safety Rating System hazard. This varied according to tenure: 18 per cent of minority-ethnic private sector households lived with a serious health and safety hazard, compared with 8 per cent of those who lived in the public sector. The report noted the existence of overcrowding, and the impact of poor housing conditions for longer-term health.
Source: Helen Garrett, Justine Piddington, and Simon Nicol, The Housing Conditions of Minority Ethnic Households in England, Race Equality Foundation
A report examined the evidence on the relationship between housing and health. It reviewed relevant literature on the links between changes to the built environment and their potential impact on health, examined some health impact case studies, and outlined the Welsh policy context.
Source: Ellie Byrne, Eva Elliott, Liz Green, and Julia Lester, Housing and Health Evidence Review for Health Impact Assessment (HIA), Wales Health Impact Assessment Support Unit, NHS Wales