News

“Fit for human habitation” bill back in parliament

By Emma Martin, 24 January 2018

There have been great strides made in recent years to curb the growing trend of rogue landlords or even ‘slum’ landlords who were, reportedly, renting out crowded and overpriced properties to low income families and immigrants who had no legal framework to support them.

In the heights of the epidemic, which the media in the UK covered extensively, there were stories of overcrowded houses with mould growing, dangerous electrical wiring, freezing conditions and any other number of horrific conditions.

Tenants of these properties were unable to seek redress from their landlords with little legal support, and the landlords often refused to repair damage and even evicted families if they dared to complain. The scourge of rogue landlords wasn’t confined to those on low incomes, either, with students and families complaining of dire conditions which they were unable to afford repairs to, and landlords bullying them with the threat of eviction.

Times have changed, however, with the government having a huge crackdown on the practice in the last two to three years. With letting agents and the prominence of associations such as the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) conditions have improved almost unrecognisably with reputable agents now able to take action against those looking to exploit tenants.

With that in mind, there was an announcement on recently by the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government, saying it was helping Labour’s Karen Buck MP to draft a Private Members’ Bill known as the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability of Housing Standards) Bill.

The bill will ensure that all landlords both public and private must ensure that their properties are ‘fit for human habitation’ before and during the tenancy agreement. If the landlord fails to meet these definitions he or she is liable to legal action by the tenant for breach of contract.

‘Everyone deserves a decent and safe place to live. Councils already have wide ranging powers to crack down on the minority of landlords who rent out unsafe and substandard accommodation,’ said Housing Secretary Sajid Javid.

‘However, public safety is paramount and I am determined to do everything possible to protect tenants. That is why Government will support new legislation that requires all landlords to ensure properties are safe and give tenants the right to take legal action if landlords fail in their duties,’ he added.

The announcement was warmly greeted by the majority in the industry as reputable agents had further cause to ensure that rogue agents and landlords were dealt with appropriately.

Relations have recently improved dramatically with agents registered with ARLA enabling better communication and minimum standards between landlords and tenants, ensuring longer tenancies and prompt resolution of disputes.

The moves should encourage tenants and agents alike as the UK is set to see a surge in demand for rental properties with house prices continuing to increase and the appetite for home ownership dropping.

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