To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of local authority enforcement of (a) selective licensing designations and (b) other existing measures against landlords in the private rented sector for (i) HMOs and (ii) other private rented accommodation, since 2015.
The Department continues to monitor private rent levels using the Office for National Statistics' Index of Private Rents and biannual publications on absolute rent levels by local authority and number of bedrooms. The Department also tracks the stock of private rented properties using the English Housing Survey and other market data to assess the availability of private rented accommodation and financial resilience of unwaged renters. People who need help to make their rent payments may be eligible for a range of financial support through the welfare system. The government has maintained the Local Housing Allowance at its increased rate for 2021/22 and 2022/23, and for those most in need Discretionary Housing Payments are available to help meet a shortfall in housing costs and the Household Support Fund has been extended to help with the cost of essentials.
The Government's commitment to abolish Section 21 evictions 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. We expect most students will continue to move in-line with the academic year. We will continue to consider the impact of our reforms as we move towards legislation and will publish an impact assessment in due course. The Government's 'A Fairer Private Rented Sector' White Paper set out our intention to bolster national oversight of local councils' enforcement, including by exploring requirements for councils to report on their housing enforcement activity and sharing of best practice.
The 2021 National Audit Office report into regulation of the private rented sector (PRS), and the subsequent Public Accounts Committee report set out several recommendations to improve the PRS, including a number concerning landlords, to which the department has responded. We are also currently assessing the recommendations from the 2019 Independent Review into the effectiveness of selective licensing and will respond in due course. We will work with local authorities to gather more information about their selective licensing schemes to ensure they are continuing to deliver the intended outcomes and to help share best practice. There are additional regulatory standards for HMOs than other privately rented accommodation. Duties for the landlords of HMOs are set out in HMO management regulations. We reformed HMO licensing in 2018, requiring that HMOs with five or more tenants must be licensed.