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Propertymark backs extending agency regulation and decent homes standard

Qualifications for property managers in the social housing sector should be extended to the private rental sector too.

That’s the view of Propertymark which says such an extension would be a step towards levelling up services for tenants across all sectors.

The call comes as MPs have suggested that safeguards to save tenants in social housing from damp and mould in the midst of the passing of a two-year-old child should be enacted for the private rented sector too.  


Propertymark claims the first step to bring the private rental sector in line with the social rental sector would be to enact the proposals laid out in the 2019 Regulation of Property Agents Working Group Report.  

Awaab’s Law is named after Awaab Ishak, who passed away in December 2020 due to prolonged exposure to mould in his home in Rochdale triggering a respiratory condition. 

Under a new law proposed by the Westminster government, social housing landlords would have to make immediate repairs within 24 hours.   

Social landlords would have to investigate hazards within 14 days and begin repairing them within an additional seven days under the proposals.  

Timothy Douglas, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Propertymark, says:  “The first step to levelling the playing field for tenants regardless of where they rent is for the UK Government to extend the requirements for property managers in the social rented sector to be qualified to the private rented sector. 

“Recommendations have been set out in the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group Report and a clear roadmap to regulation would not only drive-up standards and protections for consumers but support with the implementation of the Decent Homes Standard as part of the Renters Reform Bill.”

Propertymark’s call comes as the all-party Health and Social Care Committee of MPs wants the government to update the Decent Homes Standard for social housing tenants and set out a timetable for its extension to the private rented sector.

More than three years after the Government first committed to review and then extend the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector, no legal minimum quality standard exists to protect tenants in private rentals. 

The Decent Homes Standard has not been updated since 2006.

MPs on the committee claim the less well-off and those living in poor neighbourhoods are much more likely to develop life-limiting health conditions and to die prematurely from the effects of those conditions. The most serious housing hazards include fire and electrical risks, excess cold, excess heat, damp and mould, and air pollution. 

In 2020, two-year-old Awaab Ishak died from a respiratory condition caused by mould in a housing association property.

A determined focus on developing "healthy places" that can prevent ill-health for those most at risk is vital to ease pressures on the NHS and build a sustainable service for future generations, says the committee.

Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee Steve Brine MP - a Conservative - says: “Poor quality homes can have a catastrophic impact on the health of the those who live in them. 

“The death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak from a respiratory condition caused by mould in his home should leave Ministers in no doubt that tenants in both the social and private rented sectors deserve greater protection by law.

“The government has dragged its feet on updating the Decent Homes Standard for the social rented sector and in extending it to cover the private rented sector. 

“We’re calling on the government to set out its timetable for doing so without delay.

“Our report welcomes the government’s plan to introduce Awaab’s law for tenants in the social sector. We urge swift action on the outcome of the consultation, but the government must also consider safeguards for tenants in the private sector where risks of damp and mould can pose an immediate danger to health.

“Creating healthy places to live to prevent ill-health among the population must take priority for Ministers. Not only will that reduce pressures on the NHS but will save vast sums spent each year on treating people with preventable illness.”


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