The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has given its endorsement to various provisions within the Renters Reform Bill. Notably, they have expressed support for the proposed ban on Section 21 evictions and the introduction of a new Property Portal, both of which are considered positive steps. In their written submission to the Renters Reform Bill Committee, the institute welcomes these measures for their potential to enhance tenant protection and streamline property-related processes.
However, a noteworthy point of concern emerges in the institute’s response. There is apprehension that the envisaged Property Portal might lead to the obsolescence of selective licensing schemes. While acknowledging the positive aspects of the proposed changes, the institute emphasizes the need for careful consideration to ensure that the removal of selective licensing does not inadvertently compromise the effectiveness of existing regulatory frameworks.
Selective licensing schemes are a regulatory framework wherein privately rented properties within designated areas are mandated to obtain licenses issued by the local authority.
According to the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), licensing is not merely a data-collection exercise; rather, it represents a systematic and proactive approach aimed at elevating housing standards. In advocating for this perspective, the CIEH emphasizes the importance of viewing licensing as a comprehensive strategy for the continual improvement of housing conditions.
In alignment with this stance, the CIEH calls for the elimination of unnecessary barriers that may impede local authorities from harnessing the full potential of licensing schemes in their efforts to enhance housing standards. This plea underscores the institute’s commitment to fostering a regulatory environment that actively contributes to the betterment of living conditions within rented properties, ensuring a proactive and systematic approach to housing quality improvement.
In January 2019, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) issued a report that shed light on the efficacy of selective licensing. According to the findings, these licensing initiatives played a pivotal role in identifying and addressing numerous serious hazards and defects within the areas covered by the licenses. Notably, the report asserted that the implementation of selective licensing schemes led to an increased willingness among landlords to undertake essential works on their properties. This underlines the positive impact of such schemes on the proactive improvement of housing standards.
Despite the favorable aspects, the CIEH has expressed apprehension about what it perceives as “the large enforcement burden” that the provisions of the Bill may impose on local authorities. This concern prompts a call for a thoughtful and balanced approach to ensure that the enforcement mechanisms outlined in the Bill do not overwhelm local authorities. Additionally, the institute underscores the importance of securing proportionate and sustained funding to address these potential challenges, advocating for a funding model that offers predictability and consistency.
Louise Hosking, the executive director of the institute, emphasized the significance of the written evidence, stating, “This comprehensive evidence, developed through our Housing Advisory Panel, serves as a robust foundation for our ongoing engagement in parliamentary discussions surrounding the Bill. Following our oral evidence presented to the Public Bill Committee last month, we are steadfast in our commitment to ensuring the continued representation of environmental health professionals in shaping this pivotal legislation.” This commitment highlights the institute’s dedication to influencing legislative processes and advocating for measures that prioritize the enhancement of housing standards.