Levelling Up the UK – Anything New in Housing?
On 2 February 2022, the government published a much-trailed White Paper called Levelling Up the United Kingdom.
While housing took up only a small part of the total document, there were still some interesting announcements.
While full of the familiar emphasis on homeownership, there is also an emphasis on housing standards, accepting that “too many households still live in housing below standards society should accept.” The White Paper points out that the impact of the Covid pandemic, where people were forced to stay in their homes for a long period, pushed housing standards to the fore.
Levelling Up Social Housing
There is an acceptance that there is a significant unmet need for social housing, that there has been an increase in the size of the private rented sector as the social rented sector has decreased, and that private sector tenants live with insecurity where they can be evicted at short notice. The Levelling Up White Paper also acknowledges that it is unacceptable to have nearly 100,000 households in temporary accommodation in 2022.
Despite all this, there is little new. As far as delivery of social housing is concerned, there are some rather vague proposals to support councils to deliver more council homes and to give Homes England (which funds affordable housing) a greater role.
Renters Reform and the Decent Homes Standard
There is a repeat of the announcement to end no-fault s21 evictions. A Renters Reform Bill was published as long ago as December 2019, but the White Paper has been delayed since then, and is now promised in the spring of this year. What is new is the suggestion that the Decent Homes Standard, which sets standards for the state of repair, facilities and services for social rented sector housing, should be applied across all tenures including the private rented sector. The practical impact is that it is possible that private sector landlords will need to bring their properties up to the Decent Homes Standard to be allowed to join the National Landlord Register (another warmed-up old proposal). It is not clear whether tenants will have enforceable legal rights to make their landlord bring their property up to the new standards. If so it would build on the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 which already gives tenants rights to take action where their home is unfit.
Andrew Brookes is based in our South London offices at London Bridge, and is the head of our Housing Department. He has 18 years’ experience in social housing law; acting for both tenants and landlords during a dispute.
*Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*
* Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*