New bill set to protect tenants from uninhabitable homes

By Emma Martin, 18 December 2018

It’s hard to believe that with the scope of the Private Rented Sector (PRS) the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill 2017-19 doesn’t yet exist. The bill, which is expected to pass through Parliament tomorrow after its third reading in the House of Lords before its Royal Assent in early 2019, contains legislation which will better protect tenants living in homes that do not meet standard requirements.

In today’s age it is shocking that approximately 750,000 homes in the PRS and 250,000 in the social rented sector have category one hazards; these are hazards which pose a serious threat to health or safety, and include things like broken boilers, leaking roofs, rats or vermin and mould.

Under the new bill all leases for rented properties will include a covenant which makes clear that all homes must be fit for human habitation when a tenant first moves in and throughout their contract. If this is not observed tenants would then have the right to seek a fix in court from their landlord and even win compensation.

MP for Westminster North, Karen Buck, said: “Living in a cold, damp, or unsafe home is hell. It damages people’s physical and mental well-being. It erodes the income of the poorest households. It impacts on children’s education.” She added: “The most vulnerable tenants are those most at risk of being trapped in sub-standard accommodation and they are often least able to withstand the damage such conditions do.”

We certainly see this as a step in the right direction for tenant rights, with many news stories recently highlighting cases where rogue landlords have been capitalising on the lucrative buy to let market without proper care being taken to provide habitable homes.

Once such case as reported by Landlord Today is of a landlord in Luton being fined after renting out a poorly converted garage despite being ordered to stop. Hazards with the property include no gas safety certificate, live cables close to a water source, a rodent infestation and mould, just to name a few. Said landlord has been ordered to pay £8,510 by Luton Magistrates Court.

With the New Year fast approaching we hope that 2019 will see more improvements to tenant rights, advancing the busy PRS for everyone involved.

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