Recent Updates from the National Code September 2022 29/9: Minister Reiterates Opposition to Rent Controls to Set Level of Rent 'At Outset of a Tenancy' Charlotte Nichols MP (Labour, Warrington North) has received a response to her written question asking if DLUHC will make it policy to introduce rent controls in the context of the increases in the cost of living. The Minister for the PRS responded: “The Government does not support the introduction of rent controls in the private rented sector to set the level of rent at the outset of a tenancy. Historical evidence suggests that these would discourage investment in the sector and would lead to declining property standards as a result, which would not help landlords or tenants.” 28/9: Labour Considering Plans for Local Rent Freezes Labour is considering a policy that would give local leaders powers to freeze rent increases for private tenants over the winter. Speaking to a fringe event at the Labour Party conference yesterday the Shadow LUHC Secretary, Lisa Nandy, said yesterday that she is "very interested and attracted" by the idea and has asked her team to create a "workable proposal". She went on to argue that "doing nothing is not an option". Nandy told the fringe event: "I'm personally very interested and attracted by the idea that local mayors and council leaders should be able to make decisions to freeze rent increases in their local areas over the winter. "I've asked my team to look at that to see if we can work that up into a workable proposal. I think doing nothing is not an option." 22/9: MPs Press Government on Cost of Living Support for University Students Steve McCabe MP (Labour, Birmingham Selly Oak) has received a response to his written question asking whether the Treasury has plans to introduce cost of living support for university students. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Griffith MP, responded: “The government understands that people across the UK are worried about the rising cost of living and are seeing their disposable incomes decrease as they spend more on the essentials. “On 8 September, government announced that the energy price cap will be superseded with a new Energy Price Guarantee, which means that a typical UK household will pay no more than £2500 a year on their energy bill over the next 2 years from 1 October. “This announcement comes in addition to the £37bn of support previously announced, which will see eight million of the most vulnerable households receive £1200 support, with additional support for pensioners and those claiming disability benefits. “However, the Government recognises that students have also been impacted by the cost of living pressures that have arisen this year, and we have confirmed in our guidance to the Office for Students (OfS) on funding for the 2022-23 financial year that universities will continue to be able to support students in hardship through their own hardship funds and the student premium, for which up to £261 million is available for academic year 2022/23. “The government has also worked closely with the OfS to clarify that English providers can draw upon this funding now, to provide hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by cost-of-living pressures. “Later this month, the Chancellor will set out a package of measures to deliver on the Prime Minister’s commitment to cut taxes and boost growth, laying the groundwork for the change we need in the long term to make our economy stronger.” Catherine West MP (Labour, Hornsey and Wood Green) has also received a response to her written question asking what steps the Department for Education is taking with Cabinet colleagues to help support students in full-time higher education with the rising cost of living. The Higher Education Minister, Andrea Jenkyns MP, responded: “The department recognises the additional cost of living pressures that have arisen and impacted students this year. Many higher education (HE) providers have hardship funds that students can apply to for assistance. “To support disadvantaged students and those in need of additional help, the department has confirmed in our guidance to the Office for Students (OfS) on funding for the 2022/23 financial year that universities will continue to be able to support students in hardship through their own hardship funds and the student premium, for which up to £261 million is available for the 2022/23 academic year. “We have also worked closely with the OfS to clarify that English providers can draw upon this funding now, to provide hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by cost-of-living pressures. “Maximum grants and loans for living costs have also been increased by 2.3% this 2022/23 academic year. Students who have been awarded a loan for living costs for the 2022/23 academic year that is lower than the maximum, and whose household income for the tax year 2022/23 has dropped by at least 15% compared to the income provided for their original assessment, can apply for their entitlement to be reassessed. “In addition, maximum tuition fees, and the subsidised loans available from the department to pay them remain at £9,250 for the 2022/23 academic year, in respect of standard full-time courses. The department is also freezing maximum tuition fees for the 2023/24 and 2024/25 academic years. By 2024/25, maximum fees will have been frozen for seven years. As well as reducing debt levels for students, the continued fee freeze will help to ensure that the HE system remains sustainable while also promoting greater efficiency at providers. “The Energy Price Guarantee announced on 8 September will save the average household at least £1,000 a year based on current energy prices from October. This is in addition to the £400 energy bills discount for all households. Students who buy their energy from a domestic supplier are eligible for the energy bills discount. “As part of the package of support for rising energy bills, the government is also giving a council tax rebate payment of £150 to households that were living in a property in council tax bands A to D as their main home on 1 April 2022. This includes full-time students that do not live in student halls or in property that is not considered a House in Multiple Occupation for council tax purposes.” 21/9: Government Presses Student Accommodation Providers to Ensure Policies Have Interests of Students at Heart Catherine West MP (Labour, Hornsey and Wood Green) has received a response to her written question asking what assessment the Department for Education has made of the implications for its policies of the findings of the recent report published by Higher Education Policy Institute on hidden homelessness among university students. The Education Minister responded: “No student should ever have to worry about their residential accommodation whilst balancing their studies. Although the department plays no role in the provision of student accommodation, we are investing £2 billion over the next three years to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping. “Universities and private accommodation providers are ultimately autonomous and responsible for setting their own rent agreements but we have always encouraged them to review their policies to make sure that their accommodation policies are fair, clear and have the interests of students at heart. “For any student with concerns, we recommend them reaching out to their university, many of whom have hardship funds that students can apply to for financial assistance. “The government recognises the additional cost of living pressures that have arisen this year and that have impacted students. Therefore, in order to support disadvantaged students and those who need additional help, we have confirmed in our guidance to the Office for Students (OfS) on funding for the 2022-23 financial year that in addition to their existing hardship funds, universities can continue to be able to support students in hardship by drawing on the student premium, for which up to £261 million is available for academic year 2022/23.” 21/9: New Survey Reveals Financial Pressures Being Faced by Students Students are facing financial and mental health concerns as rising prices take a toll on their wellbeing, a survey has suggested. More than eight in 10 of those asked said they were worried about making ends meet, with the average maintenance loan falling short of living costs. The survey, run by the website Save The Student, suggested four in five had considered the prospect of dropping out of university. Half of those blamed money worries. Rent remains the largest outgoing for students, followed by groceries. Living costs have seen a 14% increase since last year's survey, according to the responses, with the average student now spending £924 per month. That is higher than the official inflation rate of 9.9%, which tracks how the cost-of-living changes over time. Save The Student suggested that a typical maintenance loan in England fell £439 short of covering these costs every month. Many relied on parents or part-time jobs, or savings to make up the shortfall, but one in 10 students in the survey has used a food bank in the last academic year, the survey suggested. Of those who were worried about making ends meet, some 59% said their mental health had suffered, and 64% said their social life had taken a hit. Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-62972580 9/9: Government Issues Short Statement in Response to Consultation on Reform of Rogue Landlords Database DLUHC has published a short statement as a response to the consultation on reform of the database of rogue landlords and property agents which closed in 2019. The statement reads: “As set out in the ‘a fairer private rented sector’ White Paper, published in June 2022, we will introduce a new Property Portal to make sure that tenants, landlords and local councils have the information they need. The portal will provide a single ‘front door’ for landlords to understand their responsibilities, tenants will be able to access information about their landlord’s compliance, and local councils will have access to better data to crack down on criminal landlords. We also intend to incorporate some of the functionality of the Database of Rogue Landlords, mandating the entry of all eligible unspent landlord offences and making them publicly visible.” Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/rogue-landlord-database-reform 6/9: Recording Available of LUHC Committee Session on Rental Reform The recording of the LUHC Select Committee oral evidence sessions held yesterday as part of its inquiry into reform of the PRS can be accessed at: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/62ab5054-b009-4d86-a318-215bb59d79be 2/9: Government Launches Consultation on Applying a Decent Homes Standard to the Private Rented Sector The Government has launched a consultation on applying a new Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector. In its press release launching the consultation DLUHC notes: “The majority of landlords in the private rented sector already meet high standards but a minority are failing to meet these. “The consultation asks whether privately rented homes should be required to be kept in a good state of repair with efficient heating, suitable facilities, and free from serious hazards like major damp or fire risks. The consultation seeks views on whether such new standards should be introduced and on how they should be enforced.” The current Housing Secretary, Greg Clark MP, is quoted as saying: “I want to see a thriving private rented sector, but that does not mean that tenants should have to suffer homes that are not of decent standard. “This consultation asks what the minimum standard for privately rented homes should be.” The Government’s press release can be accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-standards-for-rented-homes-under-consideration. The full consultation document can be accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/a-decent-homes-standard-in-the-private-rented-sector-consultation. Responses to it are due by 11:45pm on 14th October. Of note, in outlining the proposed Decent Homes Standard for the PRS, the consultation document says: “This standard is broadly consistent with the existing standard in the social rented sector but includes adjustments to reflect the specific circumstances of the private rented sector, specifically removing the requirement for kitchens and bathrooms to be of a certain age and reflecting the existing requirement to meet minimum energy efficiency standards in the private rented sector. We are conscious that property types in the private rented sector tend to be more diverse than the social rented sector, and we are committed to ensuring the Standard and its enforcement suits the varied needs of the sector August 2022 31/8: Government Publishes Response to PAC Report on Regulation of the PRS DLUHC has published its response to the Public Accounts Committee inquiry on the regulation of the private rented sector. It can be accessed at: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/28474/documents/171633/default/. Of note: The Government says that it expects a full roll-out of the digital Property Portal will happen in phases, but it expects early public Beta testing of the Portal to commence Summer 2023, and after Royal Assent, with full roll-out by Summer 2026. The Government agrees with the Committee’s recommendation that the Department “should take a more proactive approach to supporting local regulators and sharing good practice.” DLUHC goes on to say: “The Department recognises the value in sharing good practice across LAs and have supported them to develop their approaches to driving up standards through e.g., roadshows. The department has reinvigorated its engagement programme with LAs and will continue to expand its reach across England to design and implement its reforms.” DULHC further pledges to “work with LAs to share selective licensing schemes best practice.” The Government disagrees with the Committee’s recommendation that the Department “should assess whether current arrangements for licensing schemes are working, and whether alternative arrangements may be more efficient and effective.” In doing so the Government notes: “Selective licensing schemes when used as part of a wider, well planned, coherent initiative, can be an effective tool for LAs to drive better outcomes for good landlords and tenants.” 16/8: Two Thirds of University Students Struggling to Pay Rent or Accommodation Costs Nationwide Building Society has conducted new research which has found that two thirds of students are struggling to afford their housing costs or have fallen behind on their rent in the current climate, and many are having to borrow to make ends meet. The research, which was a poll of 1,000 UK university students, also found that 73% have had to borrow money from family members to help pay for essentials like food and rent in the last year, whilst 42% relied on their overdrafts to cover these outgoings. More than one in five (22%) know someone who has become homeless within the last year due to financial difficulties – either sofa surfing, staying in a hostel or rough sleeping. Meanwhile one in seven fear that they themselves could become homeless in the next six months. More information can be found here. July 2022 22/7: Government Expects Students Will Continue to Move In-Line with the Academic Year Under Rental Reform Plans Julian Sturdy MP (Conservative, York Outer) has received a response to his written question asking what assessment has been made of the impact of the proposals to abolish no-fault section 21 evictions on landlords of student accommodation that is not classified as purpose-built student accommodation. The Housing Minister responded: “The Government's commitment to abolish section 21 evictions and move to periodic tenancies will mean tenants enjoy greater security and feel empowered to challenge poor practice and unreasonable rent rises. We want as many tenants as possible to benefit from these reforms, including students living in the private rented sector. “In July 2019, the Department published a consultation - 'A New Deal for Renting', on the implications of removing assured shorthold tenancies, which included a question on student accommodation. 19,697 consultation responses in total were received from a range of individuals and organisations. Since then, the department has used consultation feedback and extensive stakeholder engagement to understand the impact of proposals of the Renters Reform Bill, including on the availability and supply of student accommodation in the private rented sector. “We expect most students will continue to move in-line with the academic year. However, the proposed reforms will support student households who have children or local roots to remain in their properties after studying if they wish to. It will also mean that students are not locked into contracts when their circumstances change or if property standards are poor. “We will continue to consider the impact of our reforms as we move towards legislation and will publish a full impact assessment in due course.” 19/7: Students Struggling to Afford PBSA in London Says British Property Federation Student Accommodation Committee Chair David Tymms, Chair of British Property Federation’s Student Accommodation Committee and a Director at iQ Student Accommodation has had a blog published on the Higher Education Policy Institute’s website looking at where London students will live in the next decade. In his blog he notes: “In the 2020/21 academic year, there were an astonishing 370,000 full-time higher education students studying in London, which is around four times the 97,000 Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) beds available; a student-to-bed ratio that is almost tragically inadequate. Growth in full-time students from 2015/16 to 2020/21 was 80,000, equivalent to adding the University of Birmingham and Nottingham Trent University to the capital in just five years. HEPI’s 2020 report, Demand to 2035, foresees continuing significant student growth in London. “At the same time, the number of PBSA beds grew by around 17,000. The Greater London Authority’s (GLA) own forecasts, published in October 2018, projected full-time student numbers in the capital would reach just over 350,000 by 2041/42 year, a figure already hugely exceeded. In the same report, the forecast need for PBSA beds was 170,000, way above the 97,000 PBSA beds currently available.” Warning about the difficulties students are having affording housing, it goes on to note: “The result of rapidly expanding student numbers and limited new supply is, of course, soaring rents, which now average above £300 per week in Zone 1 of the London Underground. Most UK students cannot access affordable PBSA and are pushed into poorly regulated houses in multiple occupation, accommodation which itself is desperately required for other groups, including families. Almost one-quarter (23 per cent) of the emerging Build to Rent (BTR) sector is occupied by students in the capital – not its target market and further reducing housing for families and professionals.” Outlining what the GLA needs to do to address the problem he concludes: “A great deal can be done by the GLA in its next iteration of the London Plan to improve supply. Removing the requirement for universities to contract greater than 50 per cent of rooms rather than just the 35 per cent affordable beds would immediately improve engagement between developers and universities. Allowing variable affordable rents across London Underground zones one to six and for just the entry level room type to be designated affordable would significantly improve viability. London higher education institutions should also consider working with London Higher or similar so a coordinated approach to affordable PBSA need can be developed rather than the present situation which sees the Russell Group dominating opportunities to the exclusion of others.” The blog in full can be accessed at: https://www.hepi.ac.uk/2022/07/18/where-london-students-will-live-in-the-next-decade-and-why-the-london-plan-is-failing-them/ 18/7: Question Asked on Impact of Proposed Renters Reform Bill on Student Accommodation Supply in the Private Rented Sector Lord Truscott (Non-Affiliated) has received a response to his written question asking what assessment the Government has made of the impact of the proposals in the Renters Reform Bill on the availability and supply of student accommodation in the private rented sector. The LUHC Minister in the Lords, has responded: “The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has used consultation feedback and extensive stakeholder engagement to understand the impact of proposals of the Renters Reform Bill on the availability and supply of student accommodation in the private rented sector. “The proposed reforms will support student households who have children or local roots to remain in their properties after studying if they wish to, whilst students living in privately-run purpose-built student accommodation will be governed by the same rules as those in university-owned accommodation, given the specific purpose of this housing. “We will continue to consider the impact of our reforms as we move towards legislation and will publish a full impact assessment in due course.” He has also received a response to his written question asking what assessment the Government has made of the supply of accommodation in the private rented sector; and in particular, of the effect of ultra-short term lets on the availability of longer-term rental tenancies. The response given follows: “Our key indicator on the size of the private rented sector is the English Housing Survey. The most recent headline report states that in 2020-21, the private rented sector accounted for 4.4 million or 19% of households in England, unchanged from 2019-20, but lower than in 2015-16 (20%). Renting is more prevalent in London where 27% of households lived in the private rented sector in 2020-21 (compared to 17% of households in the rest of England). “The sharing economy has brought many benefits to the tourism sector and wider economy, as well as creating an additional income stream for homeowners. However, we recognise that the increase in short-term letting has also prompted some concerns. These include the impact on the housing market and local communities, and a sense that new entrants in the market are not being held to the same health and safety standards as, for example, hotels and B&Bs. “The Government committed in the Tourism Recovery Plan published in June last year to consult on a possible Short Term Accommodation Registration Scheme in England. A call for evidence as the first stage of that consultation process was published on 29 June and runs until 21 September. “We want to hear from a wide range of stakeholders, including local authorities, in order to build a much-needed evidence base on these issues and enable us to develop proportionate policy responses. We ideally want to strike a balance between the benefits of the sharing economy and the concerns of the impacts on some communities, alongside ensuring consistency in quality among the range of different tourism accommodation providers.” 15/7: 94% of Identified High-Rise Residential and Publicly Owned Buildings Have Completed or Started Remediation Work to Remove ACM Cladding DLUHC has published the 56th monthly data release from the Government’s Building Safety Programme. Of note: At the end of June 2022, 94% (459) of all identified high-rise residential and publicly owned buildings in England had either completed or started remediation work to remove and replace unsafe Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding (98% of buildings identified at 31st December 2019, 97% of buildings identified at 31st December 2020) – an increase of one since the end of May. There are 56 high-rise student accommodation buildings identified with ACM cladding system unlikely to meet Building Regulations – no change since the end of May. Of these, 49 (88%) have fully completed remediation – no change since the end of May. Six of the seven buildings yet to be remediated have started remediation. Of these buildings, four are known to have had their ACM cladding systems removed, two of which have completed works and are awaiting building control sign off. Overall, 53 student accommodation buildings have completed remediation or had their ACM cladding systems removed (95% of student accommodation buildings) – no change since the end of May. 14/7: Government Responds to Questions Raised on PBSA Dr Matthew Offord MP has received a response to his written question asking if DLUHC will make an estimate of the level of investment in purpose-built student accommodation in each of the last three years. The Housing Minister, Marcus Jones MP, responded: “The Department has made no such assessment. It is for local areas, through their Local Plans and in response to local needs and concerns, to determine the level of student accommodation required in their area.” Dr Offord has also received a response to his written question asking what assessment DLUHC’s has made of the potential merits of Purpose-Built Student Accommodation being subject to periodic tenancies rather than a system that recognised building classification as defined by membership of the UUK or ANUK codes. The Minister for the PRS, Eddie Hughes MP, responded: “Privately managed purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) is distinct to the rest of the private rented sector (PRS). It caters specifically to student needs, is often restricted to housing students due to planning constraints, and it is not designed to offer long-term accommodation. Standards in privately managed PBSA are upheld by Government Codes, which outline the obligations of PBSA landlords and set benchmark standards for the accommodation they manage. Compliance with The Codes also ensures that problems or disputes can be resolved promptly if they do occur. Currently around 95% of PBSA providers are signed up to The Codes. “PBSA developments are an important part of student accommodation supply. Under our proposed reforms to the private rented sector, private PBSA providers who are signed up to a government-approved code will be exempt from assured status and therefore the new periodic tenancy system. This will make sure that PBSA can continue to provide efficiently run housing in line with the academic year for the students that choose to live there.” 13/7: DLUHC Publishes Draft Contract on Building Safety Remediation DLUHC has published the draft contract which, when finalised, will be for large developers to sign, committing them to remediate unsafe buildings with which they are associated. It can be accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/building-safety-developer-remediation-contracts. 8/7: 48 Developers Sign Pledge on Remediating Life Critical Fire Safety Works Following the Governments plan on resetting building safety in England, 48 developers have signed a pledge to committing to remediate life critical fire safety works in building over 11 meters that they have played a role in developing or refurbishing over the last 30 years in England. Developers making this commitment have also agreed to reimburse any funding received from government remediation programmes in relation to buildings they had a role in developing or refurbishing. These agreements were reached following constructive discussions with developers and the Home Builders Federation and will protect leaseholders from the costs of remediation of life-critical fire safety defects. Further information and list of the developers can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/list-of-developers-who-have-signed-building-safety-repairs-pledge June 2022 29/6: Shadow Minister Presses Government on Reform Process for Selective Licensing Schemes Mike Amesbury MP (Labour, Weaver Vale – a Shadow LUHC Minister) has received a response to his written question asking what steps DLUHC is taking to review Local Housing Allowance rates; and if it will take steps to provide local authorities with stronger selective licensing powers by removing the requirement for Secretary of State approval for larger schemes to help tackle insecure and unfit housing. The Minister for the Private Rented Sector responded: “The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions reviews Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates annually. In April 2020 investment in LHA rates was boosted by nearly £1 billion when rates were set at the 30th percentile of market rents, providing 1.5 million claimants with an average £600 more housing support in 2020/21 than they would otherwise have received. Rates have been maintained at their increased 2020 levels so that claimants continue to benefit from the significant increase. “On Thursday 16 June the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities published The Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper. The announced measures will ensure millions of families will benefit from living in decent, well looked-after homes as part of the biggest shake up of the private rented sector in 30 years. This includes a Property Portal which will provide access to information about privately rented properties and tackle one of the biggest and most time-consuming barriers faced by local councils when enforcing standards - identifying poor quality and non-compliant properties and who owns them. “Selective licensing schemes when used as part of a wider, well planned, coherent initiative, can be an effective tool for local authorities to drive better outcomes for good landlords and tenants. Overall, we think we have the right selective licensing approval process in place to support tenants, landlords, and local authorities.” 28/6: Cladding Measures Come Into Force Measures in the Building Safety Act 2022 come into force today to protect many leaseholders from unfair bills to make their homes safe. DLUHC’s press statement on the issue can be accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/leaseholders-protected-from-unfair-cladding-costs-as-governments-building-safety-reforms-come-into-force. 27/6: Commons Library Publishes Briefing Paper on End of Section 21 Repossessions The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper on the Government’s plans to end Section 21 repossessions. It can be accessed at: https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-8658/CBP-8658.pdf. 22/6: Private Rental Prices Across the UK Increased by 2.8% in Year to May 2022 Says ONS Of note, in the year to May 2022: Private rental prices paid by tenants in the UK rose by 2.8%, up from 2.7% in the 12 months to April 2022. Private rental prices grew by 2.8% in England, 1.9% in Wales and 3.1% in Scotland. The East Midlands saw the highest annual growth in private rental prices (4.1%), while London saw the lowest (1.5%). It goes on to note: In England, the growth in private rental prices was the highest since April 2016. When London is excluded from England, private rental prices increased by 3.5% in the 12 months to May 2022. This is up from an increase of 3.3% in April 2022 and the highest 12-month growth rate since this series began in 2006. The growth in private rents in Wales was the highest annual growth rate since this series began in 2010. In Scotland, the growth in private rents was the highest annual growth rate since this series began in 2012. 21/6: Government Updates Guidance on Selective Licensing Schemes The Government has published updated guidance explaining the criteria for making a selective licensing scheme. It can be accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/selective-licensing-in-the-private-rented-sector-a-guide-for-local-authorities. 16/6: Rental Reform White Paper Published The Government has published its White Paper on reform of the private rented sector. It can be accessed at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1083381/A_fairer_private_rented_sector_print.pdf. Alongside this, the Government has published a research report that that groups privately rented households based on economic and family circumstances that impact their ability to access high-quality housing: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/english-housing-survey-a-segmentation-analysis-of-private-renters/english-housing-survey-a-segmentation-analysis-of-private-renters. 15/6: Housing Minister Reconfirms that Government Does Not Support the Introduction of Rent Controls Kevin Hollinrake MP (Conservative, Thirsk and Malton – Vice Chair of the APPG for the Private Rented Sector) has received a response to his written question asking if DLUHC will commit to not developing any forms of rent control as part of the planned white paper and legislation on reform of the private rented sector. The Housing Minister responded: “The Government does not support the introduction of controls on the amount of rent that landlords can charge in the private rented sector. Historical evidence suggests that rent controls would discourage investment in the sector and would lead to declining property standards as a result, which would not help landlords or tenants.” 14/6: Regulations in Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms Approved by Peers Peers yesterday approved the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (Amendment) Regulations 2022. This instrument amends the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England). Regulations 2015 to bring social landlords into scope of the existing requirements and extend mandatory requirements for carbon monoxide alarms in private and socially rented homes. Where carbon monoxide alarms were previously only required in rooms with solid-fuel burning appliances, this instrument creates a new requirement for landlords to provide alarms in any room with any fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers). It also creates a new obligation on landlords, following a report from a tenant, to repair or replace alarms as soon as reasonably practicable when they are found to be faulty. A new duty is placed on Local Housing Authorities to consider any written representations made by the landlord against a remedial notice, which includes provisions relating to the suspension of the notice and obligations to inform the landlord of the outcome of the consideration. The regulations in full can be accessed at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2022/9780348234978. The short debate on the regulations can be read at: https://hansard.parliament.uk/lords/2022-06-13/debates/4290AA77-8757-43BE-82D5-32111B0E4CBE/SmokeAndCarbonMonoxideAlarm(Amendment)Regulations2022. 1/6: The Coronavirus (Scotland) (No. 2) Act 2020 (Suspension: Termination of Student Residential Tenancy) Regulations 2022 Now Signed The Coronavirus (Scotland) (No. 2) Act 2020 (Suspension: Termination of Student Residential Tenancy) Regulations 2022 is now signed. This means that the suspension of twenty-eight day notice period for students in university and college halls of residence and Purpose Built Student Accommodation comes into force on 1 July 2022. The legislation can be accessed here: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2022/192/contents/made May 2022 27/5: Cabinet Office Publishes New Guidance on Developing Ombudsman Schemes The Cabinet Office has published new guidance for government departments on setting up Ombudsman schemes. It can be accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/new-ombudsman-schemes-guidance 26/5: Government Publishes Fact Sheet on Fire Doors (Regulation 10) The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 will make it a legal requirement from 23 January 2023 for responsible persons for all multi-occupied residential buildings in England with storeys over 11 metres in height to: Undertake quarterly checks of all fire doors (including self-closing devices) in the common parts; and, Undertake – on a best endeavour basis – annual checks of all flat entrance doors (including self-closing devices) that lead onto a building’s common parts. The regulations will also require responsible persons to provide to residents of all multi-occupied residential buildings with two or more sets of domestic premises (that have common parts) information on the importance of fire doors to a building’s fire safety. The fact sheet can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fire-safety-england-regulations-2022/fact-sheet-fire-doors-regulation-10 26/5: Government Publishes English Private Landlord Survey The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has published the latest English Private Landlord Survey for 2021. It can be accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/english-private-landlord-survey-2021-main-report. 26/5: Warning for PBSA Providers on Fraud Scheme Targeting International Students The National Code has recieved communications from a member regarding an issue that is currently found to be affecting students across the Sheffield market that relates to a payment fraud scam. The scammers are posing as a PBSA company that is promoting a rent payment service where students that use the service will receive a discount on their rent. The student is then asked to transfer them the rental payment, minus the discount, to the third party, who in turn pays the full amount of rent on behalf of the student, by credit card. A receipt is then provided to the student. Some weeks later the third party is claiming a chargeback on the credit card payment, which is then reversed by the credit card provider. This payment then returns to being unpaid on the student’s account. The scam is being conducted via the platform WeChat which is making it incredibly difficult to follow and track. Sadly some students have already been targeted, and the provider is helping these students to work with the police and Action Fraud on this. It is presumed other PBSA providers and Universities may be being targeted, and both are urged to be vigilant and provide guidance to students on being alert to fraud, and a reminder that they should never transfer rent money through a third party or ask anyone to pay on their behalf unless they are close family members, or someone who is known well to them and trusted to act on their behalf. 19/5: Government Publishes New Fire Safety Regulations The Government has published the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 (SI, 2022, No. 547) which are due to come into force from 23rd January 2023. The Instrument seeks to improve fire safety in high-rise residential buildings and other multi-occupied residential buildings by implementing recommendations made by the Grenfell Tower Inquiry in its Phase 1 report in a practical and proportionate way. The Instrument imposes new duties on Responsible Persons (RPs) of high-rise and other multi-occupied residential buildings to improve the safety of residents, whilst providing useful information to the fire and rescue service (FRS), which is the operational part of each fire and rescue authority (FRA), to support an emergency response. The Instrument in full can be accessed at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2022/547/contents/made. The explanatory note to accompany it is available at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2022/547/pdfs/uksiem_20220547_en.pdf. 10/5: Government Confirms Plans to Bring Forward Renters’ Reform Bill The Queen’s Speech, which marks the opening of the new parliamentary session and sets out the Government’s legislative agenda, includes a commitment to bring forward the much-anticipated Renters’ Reform Bill. The Government’s full background notes to accompany the Queen’s Speech have been published at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1074106/Lobby_Pack_9_May_2022.pdf. It notes that the main elements of the Renters’ Reform Bill will be: Abolishing so-called ‘no fault’ evictions by removing Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, providing, the Government says, “security for tenants in the private rented sector and empowering them to challenge poor practice and unfair rent increases without fear of retaliatory eviction.” Reforming possession grounds for landlords, introducing “new and stronger grounds for repeated incidences of rent arrears and reducing notice periods for anti-social behaviour, ensuring that they can regain their property efficiently when needed.” Applying the legally binding Decent Homes Standard in the Private Rented Sector for the first time ever, “giving tenants safer, better quality and better value homes.” Introduce a new Ombudsman for private landlords “so that disputes can easily be resolved without the need to go to court, which is often costly and lengthy, and ensure that when residents make a complaint, landlords take action to put things right.” Introducing a new property portal “to help landlords understand their obligations, give tenants performance information to hold their landlord to account as well as aiding local authorities.” The Government notes that: “We will shortly publish a White Paper which will set out more detail on our proposals for landmark reform in the private rented sector.” 9/5: 62% of Renters Feel Renting Property Negatively Impacts Their Mental Health 62% of tenants feel that renting a property negatively impacts their mental health, saying they feel either stressed or anxious because of their living situation. According to the findings, the top issue facing renters that contributes to stress and anxiety is repairs to a property not being carried out, with 33% citing this as a reason for their worries. It notes that just a quarter of renters say requested repairs have been carried out to their satisfaction, while 9% say repairs haven’t been made at all. Other worries raised by renters include concerns over their landlord increasing rent during the tenancy (27%) and feeling worried about receiving notice to end a tenancy or facing eviction (19%). However, Admiral’s research also finds that 45% of landlords surveyed have had rent payment issues, while 18% have experienced aggression from tenants. Further information can be accessed at: https://www.admiral.com/press-office/tenants-feel-the-strain. April 2022 26/4: Savills Q1 Market Report Shows PBSA Sector Growth Continues Headlines from the report include: UK purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) has continued to show that it is counter-cyclical, with growth in student numbers during a time of economic uncertainty. Domestic student demand is at an all-time high, but the supply of stock in the private rented sector (PRS), for example HMOs, is constrained and contracting. There is an opportunity for PBSA owners to meet that excess demand by providing a product at a price point that is attractive to domestic students. The latest UCAS application data shows continued growth in the number of domestic students and high-value international students. There is also huge positive sentiment amongst investors, with a significant weight of dry powder targeting the sector, and demand for student portfolios actually outweighing the supply of stock. The full article and report can be accessed on the Savills website. March 2022 29/3: Response to Question on Development of National Register of Landlords The former Communities and Local Government Minister, Lord Bourne (Conservative) has received a response to his written question asking what assessment has been made of the need for a register of landlords and tenants alongside a separate register for a redress scheme for landlords and tenants. The LUHC Minister in the Lords, Lord Greenhalgh, responded: “The Government has committed to exploring the merits of introducing a national landlord register in England as part of a commitment to drive up standards in privately rented accommodation. “We are engaging with a range of stakeholders and potential users of a register such as private landlords, local authority enforcement officers, letting agents and private tenants to inform this work. “We are committed to giving the private rented sector access to redress. Currently half of all landlords do not use an agent to manage their property and therefore their tenants do not have access to redress where they have a legitimate complaint about their home. This means private tenants who rent directly from a landlord have little course for redress other than through the courts, unlike private tenants who rent through an agent and all social housing tenants who have access to redress schemes. Going to court can be expensive and time-consuming for tenants and landlords and takes up valuable court time and resources. This approach will avoid any confusion for private landlords and will make it easier for them to understand their obligations. “We will publish a White Paper in Spring this year that will set out our proposals for reform of the private rented sector.” 23/3: Office for Students Publishes Strategy for 2022-2025 The Office for Students has published its strategy for 2022-2025. It can be accessed here. 23/3: Private Sector Rents Increase by 2.3% the UK in Year to February 2022 The Office for National Statistics has published the latest Index of Private Housing Rental Prices for the UK for February 2022. Of note, in the year to February 2022: Private rental prices paid by tenants in the UK rose by 2.3%, up from 2.1% in the 12 months to December 2021. Private rental prices grew by 2.1% in England, 1.4% in Wales and 2.6% in Scotland. The East Midlands saw the highest annual growth in private rental prices (3.8%), while London saw the lowest (0.2%). In contrast, inflation in the year to February 2022 was: 5% as measured by CPIH. 2% as measured by CPI. 2% as measured by RPI. Year to Feb 2022 Year to Feb 2021 Year to Feb 2020 UK 2.3% 1.4% 1.4% England 2.1% 1.3% 1.4% Wales 1.4% 1.5% 1.2% Scotland 2.6% 1.1% 0.6% North East 2.3% 1.4% 0.7% North West 3.1% 1.9% 1.0% Yorkshire and The Humber 2.9% 1.6% 1.9% 17/3: Latest Building Safety Programme Data Published The Government has published the 52nd monthly data release from its Building Safety Programme. It can be accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/building-safety-programme-monthly-data-release-february-2022 16/3: Office for Students Launches Call for Evidence on Experience of International Students in England in Integrating and Receiving Fulfilling Experience Whilst Studying Universities and colleges have been asked to set out the work they are doing to ensure international students in England integrate and receive a fulfilling experience while studying. The research call comes as a new insight brief highlights existing data on international students and stresses importance of gathering further information on their needs and experiences. The insight brief finds that the coronavirus pandemic highlighted issues faced by international students, such as homesickness, mental health and wellbeing issues, as well as uncertainty around visa restrictions. The brief indicates that: Among UK students, the proportion of those reporting a mental health condition has increased from 0.2 per cent in 2010–11 to 1.5 per cent in 2019–20. In the 2021 National Student Survey, international students’ rates of agreement with questions relating to the extent to which they feel part of their learning community fell significantly. EU students’ agreement rates fell from 75 per cent in 2020 to 67 percent in 2021. There was also a drop in agreement rates from non-EU students – from 77 to 70 per cent – while UK students saw a comparable drop. This is significant, as research demonstrates the particular importance international students place on feeling a sense of belonging at their university or college. The drops were likely to be related to the pandemic. The press release launching the call for evidence can be found at: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/news-blog-and-events/press-and-media/ofs-seeks-evidence-on-experiences-of-international-students/. Responses can be provided at: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/publications/working-in-partnership-to-improve-international-student-integration-and-experience/. Responses should be provided by 16th May. 8/3: Councils Need to Plan For Sufficiemt Student Accommodation Says Housing Minister Rachael Maskell MP (Labour, York Central) has received a response to her written question asking what steps DLUHC is taking to help ensure that developers prioritise student needs when building student accommodation. The Housing Minister responded: “The National Planning Policy Framework is clear that it is for local authorities to identify the size, type and tenure of housing needed for different groups in the community, including students, and to reflect this in their local planning policies “Our planning practice guidance goes further to state that local authorities need to plan for sufficient student accommodation whether it consists of communal halls of residence or self-contained dwellings, and whether or not it is on campus. “Local authorities should also engage with universities and other higher educational establishments to ensure they understand the student accommodation requirements in their local area.” 3/3: Home Office Published Update Right to Rent Code of Practice The guidance for landords, homeowners and letting sgents affected by these checks can access more information on the Government website. 2/3: Government Tables Regulations on Student Housing Codes The Government yesterday laid before Parliament the following regulations: The Houses in Multiple Occupation (Specified Educational Establishments) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2022 (SI, 2022, No. 197) (see https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2022/197/contents/made). The explanatory note says of the Regulation: “The Houses in Multiple Occupation (Specified Educational Establishments) (England) Regulations 2019 (S.I. 2019/904) specify educational establishments for the purposes of paragraph 4 of Schedule 14 to the Housing Act 2004 (“the Act”). The effect is that any building managed or controlled by such an establishment and occupied solely or principally by its students will not be a house in multiple occupation (“HMO”) for the purposes of the Act (except Part 1, which deals with housing conditions), whilst the establishment is a member of one of the specified Codes of practice. “This instrument amends the Houses in Multiple Occupation (Specified Educational Establishments) (England) Regulations 2019 (“the 2019 Regulations”) to insert the Accreditation Network UK/Unipol Code of Standards for Larger Developments for Student Accommodation Not Managed and Controlled by Educational Establishments and specify additional educational establishments for the purposes of paragraph 4 of Schedule 14 to the Housing Act 2004.” The Housing (Approval of Code of Management Practice) (Student Accommodation) (England) Order 2022 (SI, 2022, No. 198) (see https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2022/198/contents/made). The explanatory note says of this Regulation: “The Housing (Approval of Code of Management Practice) (Student Accommodation) (England) Order 2022 (“the Order”) approves a code of practice with regard to the management of houses in multiple occupation (“HMOs”) and other living accommodation (Not managed or controlled by specified educational establishments) occupied solely or principally by full-time students of further or higher education. The Order also withdraws approval for an earlier code of practice, and revokes the Order approving the earlier code.” February 2022 17/2: Updated Right to Rent Factsheet Published The Home Office has published updated factsheets for landlords and can be accessed on the Government website. 16/2: Shadow Minister Questions Government on Support for Students to Cover Rising Energy Bills The Shadow Higher Education Minister, Matt Western MP has received a response to his written question asking what guidance the Government is giving to local authorities on the distribution to student households of funding from the £144 million made available as discretionary funding to help households with rising energy bills. The LUHC Minister responded: “My Department will provide guidance shortly to billing authorities on administering the council tax rebate scheme and the associated discretionary fund. Allocations from the discretionary fund will allow councils to support people that may need help with their energy bills but who are not eligible for the main scheme.” Matt Western MP has also received responses to his written questions asking: What recent assessment has been made of the impact of the energy price cap rise on the finances of student households? What steps the Government is taking to support student households in response to the rise of the energy price cap? The Minister for Higher Education responded: “Universities and private accommodation providers are autonomous and are responsible for setting their own agreements over rent and bills. The government plays no direct role in the provision of student residential accommodation whether the accommodation is managed by universities or private sector organisations. “Maximum grants and loans for living costs were increased by 3.1% this academic year, and we have announced that they will increase by a further 2.3% next year. “Increases are based on the Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts of inflation in the first quarter of the calendar year after the start of the relevant academic year using the RPIX inflation index (Retail Prices Index, less Mortgage Interest Payments). “Our grant funding to the Office for Students (OfS) for the current financial year includes an allocation of £5 million to higher education (HE) providers in England in order to provide additional support for student hardship. In our guidance to the OfS on funding for the 2021/22 financial year, we made clear that the OfS should protect the £256 million allocation for the student premiums to support disadvantaged students and those that need additional help. “Many providers have hardship funds that students can apply to for assistance should individuals’ finances be affected in the academic year 2021/22. The government is also making available discretionary funding of £144 million to be provided to support vulnerable people and individuals on low incomes. Advice is available from HE providers and from other sources online to help students manage their money while they are attending their courses.” 16/2: Private Sector Rents Rise by 2% Across UK in Year to January 2022 The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have published an index of private housing rental prices which can be accessed here The main points of note: Private rental prices paid by tenants in the UK rose by 2.0% in the 12 months to January 2022, up from 1.8% in the 12 months to December 2021. Private rental prices grew by 2.0% in England, 1.4% in Wales and 2.6% in Scotland in the 12 months to January 2022. The East Midlands saw the highest annual growth in private rental prices (3.6%), while London saw the lowest (0.1%). 14/2: Government Outlines Plans to Tackle Dangerous Cladding The Government wil introduce tough new measures for the industry to remove cladding and protect leaseholders from from shouldering high costs, in brief these will include: Blocking developers and product manufacturers that do not help fix the cladding scandal from the housing market The Government puts its guarantee that no leaseholder living in medium or high-rise buildings will have to pay for the removal of cladding into law New powers will allow cladding companies to be sued and subject to fines for defective products Protections for leaseholders extended to cover other fire safety defects Full details can be found on the Government website. 10/2: Labour MP Questions Government on Improving Data on the Private Rented Sector Catherine West MP has received a response to her written question asking, with reference to the recommendation of the National Audit Office's report entitled Regulation of private renting, published in December 2021, what assessment DLUHC has made of the effectiveness of dispute resolution schemes for tenants in the private rented sector (PRS), including whether those schemes (a) are accessible to all tenants, (b) provide effective redress for tenants when things go wrong and (c) provide his Department sufficient insight into emerging issues in the PRS. The Government responded: “In order to improve access to redress for private renters, it has been a legal requirement since October 2014 for letting and managing agents in England to belong to one of the two Government-approved redress schemes. The Department is committed to ensuring that the schemes’ systems and processes work well for tenants and landlords. “The schemes are independent from Government, and set out their own processes and procedures for supporting tenants, in line with the approval conditions set by Government. The schemes issue guidance to tenants and provide advice and support both by email and by phone, ensuring that digitally excluded tenants are still able to access redress. In 2020, the two schemes awarded a combined £2.3 million in compensation to tenants and landlords. The schemes also expelled and referred to trading standards 63 property agents after failing to comply with decisions. “The Department closely monitors the performance of each of the redress schemes through monthly data returns and quarterly meetings, to ensure the schemes are operating effectively and that emerging issues in the private rented sector are identified. “The Government does, however, recognise that the existing redress schemes are not accessible to all tenants. Tenants who rent directly from their landlords currently do not have access to free and impartial redress and this is not fair. This is why we have committed to require all private landlords to belong to a mandatory redress scheme, so that all private renters have access to redress where they have a legitimate complaint about their home. We will set out more details on how this commitment will be delivered in the Renters Reform White Paper later this year, with legislation following in due course.” 7/2: Commons Library publishes paper on who pays to tackle Unsafe Cladding The paper lays out the following: Current timeline of help given by Government to remediate unsafe cladding The ongoing issues and concerns regarding the progress of remediation work How this links with the Building Safety Bill The full paper can be accessed on the Commons Library. 3/2: Unite Students release Living Black at University Report Undertaken by Halpin over May 2021, this is an essential and groundbreaking new report into Black students’ experience in UK student accommodation. The report draws attention to the experiences of Black students during their time in Higher Education, with some challenging headline figures showing: More than half of Black students surveyed reported being a victim of racism in their accommodation 64% of all student respondents reported witnessing acts of racism (from both students and staff) 75% of Black students reported some level of impact on their mental health due to racism The full report can be found on the Unite Students website. 2/2 Government Publishes Levelling Up White Paper The Government has published the Levelling Up White Paper, consisting of 12 'Missions' to achieve its goals. With regards to Housing, the following is of note: One of the key missions reads as “By 2030, renters will have a secure path to ownership with the number of first-time buyers increasing in all areas; and the government’s ambition is for the number of non-decent rented homes to have fallen by 50%, with the biggest improvements in the lowest performing areas.” Page 226 sets out a committment to publish a White Paper in the Spring regarding support for those in the PRS, including ending 'no-fault' Section 21 evictions and giving all tenants the right to redress Also noted is the proposal to explore new minimum standards for rented housing, and the introduction of a National Landlords Register The white paper in full can accessed here. 1/2: Minister Questioned on Process for Issuing Section 21 Notices Baroness Thomas of Winchester has received a response to her written question asking whether landlords are required to give tenants without fault the booklet How to Rent before seeking to evict them; and if so, whether they can do this at the same time as issuing a Form 6A notice seeking possession of a property let on an assured shorthold tenancy. The DLUHC Minister, Lord Greenhalgh, responded: “Under the Deregulation Act 2015, landlords cannot use the Section 21 possession procedure if they have not provided a copy of the publication “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England” to the tenant. The restriction is lifted as soon as the publication is provided. However, the How to Rent guide should ideally be provided at the outset of the tenancy. Form 6A is the legally prescribed form for serving a notice requiring possession under the Section 21 possession procedure. “In respect of individual cases, it is for a court to decide whether the landlord had complied with the requirements of the Deregulation Act when they served a notice requiring possession using Form 6A, and therefore if that notice is valid. The landlord must provide evidence that they have given the tenant a valid copy of “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England” when they make a claim for possession in the county court. “This requirement applies to tenancies in England which commenced on or after 1 October 2015. It does not apply where a landlord is a private registered provider of social housing or where the tenant entered into occupation of the property under a previous tenancy and the landlord has already provided the tenant with an up-to-date version of the guidance.” January 2022 25/1: Shadow Minister Questions Government on Efforts to Tackle Dangerous Cladding on Student Accommodation Matt Western MP (Shadow Minister for Higher Education) submitted a written question asking what estimates had been made of the number of student accommodation settings containing flammable cladding. The Housing Ministers response is below: “Data on the remediation progress of high-rise student accommodation buildings in England identified with ACM cladding systems unlikely to meet Building Regulations is published in the Building Safety Programme data release. The latest data is available here. “The Department’s External Wall Systems data collection concerns residential buildings 18 metres and over, including student accommodation. The collection is ongoing, and we are working to improve the quality of data before publishing further summary information in due course. “We have begun a pilot data collection project for 11-18m residential buildings to identify those with unsafe cladding. We will publish further details in due course.” The National Code met with the Building Safety Team in 2021 and shared data held on the status of Code accredited buildings that had cladding identified, including data of buildings 11m-18m. 17/1: Minister Clarifies Position of Purpose Built Student Accommodation In Relation to Residential Property Developer Tax Requirements The Financial Secretary to the Treasury has given clarification on residential property developer tax requirements in relation to PBSA. The Shadow Treasury Minister queried whether the exemption for student accommodation in clauses 36 & 37 of the Finance Bill extended to privately owned student houses, and in reply the minister states: “No. The exemption covers purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) that is generally restricted to occupation during term time by students undertaking a course of education. This type of accommodation does not compete directly with the residential property market. Converting a residential property into a house in multiple occupation (HMO) does not bring such a property in scope of the exemption in Clause 37(2)(j) as the HMO is not specifically designed or adapted for use primarily as student accommodation.” The Ministers letter in full can be accessed here. Explanatory notes for the Finance Bill can be accessed here. 14/1: Government Warns Developers to Fix Cladding Crisis The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove has set down the expectation that developers must help to pay and fix the cladding crisis. He has written to industry giving them a deadline of early March to agree a fully funded plan of action including remediating unsafe cladding on 11-18 metre buildings, currently estimated to be £4 billion. A failure from developers to do this may result in the Government restricting access to Government funding and future procurements, the use of planning powers and the pursuit of of companies through the courts. If this fails he also indicated the Government would impose a solution through law. Further information on the announcement can be found on the Government website. 13/1: British Standards Institute releases new Code of Practice for the Fire Risk Appraisal of external walls The BSI has released the new Code of Practice (PAS 9980) for the Fire Risk Appraisal of External Walls (FRAEW), which will apply from the 31st January 2022. This provides a methodology for the fire risk appraisal of external wall construction and cladding of existing multi-storey and multi occupied residential buildings, intended for use by competent fire engineers and other competent building professionals tasked with advising on the fire risk of external wall construction of existing blocks of flats. Full guidance can be found on the BSI website. 5/1: Government Publishes Research Briefing on Ending Section 21 Evictions The Government has published a long-awaited research paper that has indicated a committment to abolish 'no-fault' section 21 evictions in the private rented sector. This research paper covers: The impact of section 21 Current status of progressing the Renters Reform Bill Reactions to the abolition of section 21 Impact of the devolved administrations A White Paper and the Government response to the 2019 consultation on abolishing section 21 is expected later in 2022. 5/1: New Blog from Higher Education Policy Institute on the Accommodation Costs Survey A new blog entitled Choosing Student Accommodation, What Do You Need to Know? from HEPI director Nick Hillman has been published. The blog notes some main issues raised in the Accommodation Costs Survey 2021 report, and also notes Nick's own thoughts on the direction of the student accommodation sector, including the question as to whether we need a new term for PBSA. December 2021 10/12: Commons Library Publishes Briefing on Student Accommodation and COVID-19 The Government has issued some updated FAQs regarding student accommodation in light of the increase in COVID-19 cases and can be accessed here. Questions that have been answered include: Do I have to pay my rent if I've moved back home? (with specific reference to PBSA) What if I cannot live in my student accommodation? Can students who have left halls get a refund/discount on their rent? Is there any additional help with rent payments? Can the landlord force me to leave my private rented tenancy? 10/12: Government Needs to Take More Strategic Approach to the Private Rented Sector, Says National Audit Office The National Audit Office (independent public spending watchdog) has published a report into the regulation of the private rented sector and can be found here. The key findings to note: Privately rented properties are less likely to comply with minimum safety standards than other types of housing and are more likely to be classified as non-decent The Department has in recent years taken a piecemeal approach to intervening in the private rented sector and is now looking to take a more strategic approach - current approach is limited by gaps in the data on what problems are occurring and where The Department has limited insight into which local regulatory approaches are effective in ensuring landlords comply with their legal obligations, and in what circumstances The Department has limited insight into which local regulatory approaches are effective in ensuring landlords comply with their legal obligations, and in what circumstances There are limited redress options for tenants when things go wrong Tenants face a number of barriers in enforcing their rights, such as costs and lack of awareness of their rights The Department finds it difficult to target guidance and support schemes towards vulnerable tenants due to limitations in its understanding of tenants’ experiences November 2021 29/11: ONS Student COVID-19 Insights Survey Reports 89% Have Been Vaccinated Against COVID-19 The Office for National Statistics has published the latest experimental statistics from the Student COVID-19 Insights Survey (SCIS) in England. It includes information on the behaviors, plans, opinions and well-being of higher education students in the context of guidance on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Of note: The majority (89%) of students said they had already been vaccinated against coronavirus (COVID-19) at least once; this is not significantly different to late October (91%). A minority (9%) of students said they had not been vaccinated against COVID-19; of those, 51% said that they were fairly or very unlikely to take a vaccine if offered and 28% said they were very or fairly likely to take a vaccine if offered. The majority (90%) of students reported they would request a test if they developed COVID-19 symptoms. Almost half (49%) of students reported taking a COVID-19 test in the last seven days Concerningly, and mirroring other research undertaken on student wellbeing during the pandemic: The average life satisfaction score for students was 6.7, which was significantly lower than those aged 16 to 29 years (6.9) and the adult population in Great Britain (7.0). The proportion of students feeling lonely often or always was 17%, significantly higher than those aged 16 to 29 years (9%) and the adult population in Great Britain (7%). Three in ten (30%) students reported that their mental health and well-being had worsened since the start of the autumn 2021 term, similar to late October (32%). 23/11: Government Repsonds to Consultation Domestic Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms The Government has published its response to its consultation on domestic smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. A consultation was held between November 2020 and January 2021 (following a Government review of carbon monoxide alarm requirements in 2019) to consider new proposals to extend requirments on CO and smoke alarms. It garnered 161 responses from both individuals and organisations. To note: 139 respondents agreed with a proposal that legislation be amended to create an obligation for private landlords to replace alarms once informed that they are faulty The Government will bring forward legislation to require landlords and housing providers in both the social and private rented sectors to repair or replace smoke and carbon monoxide alarms once they are told they are faulty. The Government will amend statutory guidance to make mandatory the installing of carbon monoxide alarms alongside the installation of fixed combustion appliances (excluding gas cookers) In any home, when a new fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers) is installed, a carbon monoxide alarm will be required by law to be installed September 2021 30/9: The September edition of the National Codes newsletter is now available to view here.