About the plan
We're committed to ensuring that our residents can live in good quality homes that provide safe, warm, and healthy environments and meet acceptable energy efficiency and safety standards.
We recognise that suitable housing is essential for people to live well and thrive. We aim to make sure that homes in the private sector are safe, well managed and well maintained, and that tenants can enjoy their homes free from poor behaviour of others that can negatively impact on their health and wellbeing.
Our Private Sector Housing Plan outlines the council’s approach to regulating and enhancing private sector housing for all our current and future residents to ensure we're doing everything we can to raise and maintain housing standards in Barnsley, irrespective of tenure, location or occupancy. Its purpose is to encourage all key stakeholders to contribute and be accountable for delivering our key priorities, which will support the broader strategic ambitions for Barnsley. It focuses mainly on private rented housing, but also considers owner-occupiers and some registered providers where the council has a duty to regulate housing, environmental or behavioural standards.
Throughout this plan we consider the challenges we face as we begin to recover and set out our ambitions for mitigating the lasting impacts of the pandemic on our tenants, residents and landlords.
Our ambition for Barnsley residents living in the private sector is that homes are safe, warm and sustainable, and people feel invested in and connected to their home and local community.
We'll achieve this by working proactively and collaboratively to regulate standards and discharge our statutory duties, supporting landlords, tenants and letting agents and encouraging fairness and equality across the sector.
This plan supports and builds on the strategic ambitions of the Barnsley 2030 vision - Barnsley, the place of possibilities. It contributes towards the corporate priorities of a healthy, learning, growing and sustainable Barnsley.
National and local considerations
Nationally, the private rented sector is the fastest-growing housing tenure type, having more than doubled in size over the last decade.
- With the gradual decline of social rented stock, this growth means that private renting is increasingly becoming the primary option for addressing housing need across the country.
- One of the critical aspects of our work within the private sector is to ensure that homes are safe places to live. Alongside the sector’s rapid growth, it's important to understand the ever-changing dynamics in our residential areas and acknowledge the different landlord types. This allows the council to respond flexibly to changing demands and pressures.
- When problems causing a health and safety implication are identified in rented properties, the landlord will be required to put things right or otherwise face enforcement action. This action would follow guidance from the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).
Here we set out how we intend to achieve our ambition for private sector housing. We have four key commitments to help us to achieve our private sector housing ambition:
Commitment 1 – Healthy Barnsley
Ensuring that housing standards and living conditions in Barnsley are of good quality and contribute towards better health outcomes for all.
To achieve this we will:
- Raise awareness of hidden harm and vulnerability in owner-occupied and private rented housing by developing strong and supportive community networks to recognise the risk factors relating to poverty, loneliness, isolation or those affected by self-neglect or hoarding.
- Link housing improvement priorities to public health and wider social care agendas across the system to address inequalities leading to poorer health outcomes.
- Work proactively and collaboratively to identify and safeguard our most vulnerable residents, using the right interventions at the right time.
- Deliver a long-term support and monitoring service for residents affected by self-neglect and/or hoarding to increase the chances of sustaining positive changes.
- Provide various ways to make accessing support services easy for professionals and members of the public to report concerns about a person’s home environment, aiming for a single point of access.
- Proactively target resources towards areas with the lowest healthy life expectancy, highest levels of deprivation and least energy-efficient homes.
- Use our duties and powers as the local housing authority to regulate housing conditions, anti-social behaviour and environmental blight, so people are safe and feel safe in their homes.
Commitment 2 – Learning Barnsley
To do all we can to make sure those residents who are hardest to reach or vulnerable know how access support understand how they can contribute and know their rights and responsibilities.
To achieve this we will:
- Operate an accredited landlord scheme, offering training, advice and guidance and incentivising fair and decent landlords to manage well-maintained homes for their tenants.
- Make opportunities to engage with appropriate groups and forums to ensure tenants and landlords know and understand their respective rights and responsibilities, promoting fairness and mutual respect.
- Make every contact count where access is granted to a home. We will do this by ensuring we are considering the health, wellbeing and needs of each member of the household as well as assessing the physical housing standards and the environmental conditions in the locality.
- Work proactively to address the prevention and reversal of neighbourhood decline, targeting the areas with the highest levels of environmental crime and blight and tailoring our approaches to best meet the needs of the area.
- Support our residents to access suitable, timely help (including relevant aids and adaptations), tailored to meet their needs and enabling them to live independently in their homes for longer.
- Adhere to age-friendly principles and make sure our services are accessible, so people get the right help at the right time in their lives.
- Develop educational material in different languages and easy-read formats to support residents with responsible household waste management and increase the take-up of recycling.
Commitment 3 – Growing Barnsley
To value the contribution of the private rented sector in meeting our housing needs, supporting good landlords and dealing robustly with those who act unlawfully.
To achieve this we will:
- Proactively investigate unlicensed HMO to ensure compliance with all health and safety standards and ensure all HMO are strictly regulated and licensed where appropriate, helping to promote cohesive and tolerant communities.
- Develop a charter of standards for registered landlords operating supported housing in the private sector and incentivising those providing a good quality offer to tenants and the wider community.
- Tackle the complex and challenging issues arising from ‘exempt accommodation’, defined as shared accommodation for vulnerable people that isn’t commissioned under council homelessness or social care funding.
- Ensure the relevant services consider the specific dynamics of each neighbourhood and create bespoke delivery plans and approaches to prevent and reverse decline according to neighbourhood need.
- Take consistently robust enforcement action against ‘rogue landlord’ activity. This includes where a landlord (or a person acting on their behalf) operates in an unlawful way to evict tenants, allows or encourages overcrowding or demonstrates a disregard for their tenants’ safety by failing to carry out necessary repairs.
- Make sure that services work together to consider the most suitable housing solutions for children, young people and families in crisis.
- Periodically consider and review the requirement for additional and selective licensing.
Commitment 4 – Sustainable Barnsley
Ensuring all areas, neighbourhoods and streets in Barnsley, irrespective of housing tenure or type, are places where people want to live and are proud to live.
To achieve this we will:
- Regulate energy efficiency standards in private rented housing to ensure tenants can enjoy warm, affordable homes and to reduce fuel poverty and cold-related morbidity and mortality.
- Promote reusable energy efficiency and warm homes schemes to support landlords in meeting their obligations.
- Deliver a liaison service to mediate between tenants and landlords at the earliest signs of a failing tenancy to reduce the risk of homelessness.
- Deliver a tenancy support service to assist tenants and equip them with the skills required to manage and sustain a tenancy successfully.
- Support the retrofitting of our existing properties to make sure they protect residents from the harmful effects of climate change and that carbon emissions are reduced.
- Deal efficiently and effectively with empty homes to bring them back into residential use.
- Implement an article 4 direction requiring planning permission to convert existing residential dwellings into HMOs. This will strengthen our powers to regulate the numbers, sizes and types of HMO in our communities.
Read the full Private Sector Housing Plan