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Private rented housing

Private rented housing is a vital and growing part of the housing market (almost 14 per cent of all households, or nearly three million homes in England).

The sector has been changing: Buy to Let  has brought better quality property into the sector - but also many more smaller investors. The private rented sector (PRS):

  • offers a flexible form of tenure and widens choice and meets a wide range of  housing needs, including those receiving Housing Benefit
  • contributes to greater labour market mobility
  • is increasingly the tenure of choice for the young (45 per cent of heads of household in the PRS are under 30, compared to 23 per cent in social renting and 32 per cent in owner occupation).

This section points out a range of statutory requirements (such as licensing) and voluntary schemes (such as accreditation) that landlords and tenants should be aware of and includes links to useful information for tenants and landlords.

Key existing measures are:

  • the Housing Act 1988, as amended by the Housing Act 1996, which established the default tenancy arrangements for renting in the private sector
  • the provisions of the Housing Act 2004, including:
    • from 6 April 2006 mandatory licensing of larger Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) 
    • local authority powers to take over the management of the poorest managed private rented properties in their areas, through management orders
    • from 6 April 2007, tenants' deposits are required to be protected in a designated scheme  
    • the new Housing Health and Safety Rating System. A system whereby local authorities can assess the severity of health hazards such as electrical hazards, cold and damp and decide on the appropriate action to remove or reduce hazards

Information for landlords

Landlords can benefit from belonging to a local accreditation scheme - a set of standards (or codes) relating to the management or physical condition of privately rented accommodation. Landlords who join a scheme and abide by the standards are accredited. Although voluntary there may be many advantages to those who join.

The Letting your property pages of the Directgov website (external link) provide further information on accreditation and on landlords' rights and responsibilities.

The Business Link website also carries some information about the responsibilities of residential landlords.

Communities and Local Government also publishes booklets for landlords (and Assured Tenancy Forms) (available to order or download).

Information for tenants

The Private renting pages of the Directgov website  (external link) provide information on tenants' rights and responsibilities and the different types of private tenancy arrangements.

Communities and Local Government also publishes booklets for tenants (and Assured Tenancy Forms) (available to order or download).

Key search terms:  Private rented sector, PRS, private rented housing, licensing, accreditation, landlord, tenant

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