Rental market has the worst standards
The private rented
sector has the highest proportion of ‘non-decent’ homes out of English housing
stock and is more likely to experience damp and mould.
This is according
to the DCLG English Housing Survey, which also found that the private rental
sector is also less likely to have central heating.
The English Housing
Survey 2014-15 found that the private rented sector had 29 per cent of
non-decent homes, compared to 14 per cent in the social rented sector and 19
per cent of owner occupied homes.
A ‘decent home’ is
a government statutory minimum standard, providing a reasonable degree of
thermal comfort, is in a reasonable state of repair and has reasonably modern
The survey also
found that owner occupied homes were less likely to suffer from damp problems.
Just 3 per cent of these homes were affected by damp, while 5 per cent of the
social sector and 9 per cent of private rented dwellings were affected.
CIEH vice president
and environmental health and housing consultant, Dr Stephen Battersby, argued
that local authorities need to use new powers to issue improvement notices and
Dr Battersby said
there was a culture of ‘negotiating’ with landlords before issuing notices but suggested
that local authorities could issue a notice and then negotiate – revoking a
notice if necessary. This would save months of inaction.
He said: ‘We need
to put the resources into tackling the worst end of the private rented sector
affecting people who are less able to get their landlords to deal with anything
and on the lowest income – which all increase health inequalities.’
figures from previous years it looks as if the number of non-decent homes are
reducing. In 2009 the same survey found 30 per cent of the housing stock
failed to meet the decent homes standard with 41 per cent of the private rented
sector falling into this category.
Battersby argued while, ‘the percentage of non-decent stock in the private
rental sector has reduced, when you look at the numbers it actually hasn’t
‘The size of the
private rental sector has grown. There is a residue of decent homes going into
the private rental sector.’
Local Government Association has called for a reversal of the ‘long-term and
continuing decline in council housing.’ Cllr Judith Blake, LGA Housing
spokesperson added: ‘Only an increase of all types of housing – including those
for affordable or social rent – will solve the housing crisis.’
The social sector
was more energy efficient than the private sector due to wider use of wall
insulation but also due to the fact that many more homes in this section are
flats. The survey noted that this type of dwelling has less exposed surface area
through which heat can be lost, making them inherently more energy efficient
than detached or semi-detached houses.
Since 1996 the
proportion of homes with central heating has increased from 80 per cent to 92
per cent. The proportion of homes with room heaters as their main heat source
also decreased from 12 per cent to 3 per cent over the same period.
But within this,
the private sector still had the lowest proportion of homes with central
heating at 85per cent, followed by housing association stock at 88 per cent.
Owner occupied homes had the highest number of homes with central heating at 94
per cent followed by local authority homes at 93 per cent.
The report also
looked at the type of boiler within a home. It found that older, less energy
efficient boilers were found more frequently in the private sector. The
social rented sector also had a higher proportion of solid walls with
insulation at 29 per cent than owner occupied at 6 per cent or the private
rented sector at 6 per cent.