Following a critical vote by MPs, tenants are to be granted more powers to combat rogue landlords who rent out properties unfit for human habitation.
The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill will give both social and private tenants the ability to force landlords to remedy any problems or hazards that make their home unfit; while also enabling them to take their landlords to court to seek compensation if the work is not completed.
Karen Buck, the Labour MP who proposed the bill, commented that “living in a cold, damp or unsafe home is hell. It damages people’s physical and mental wellbeing, erodes the income of the poorest households and impacts on children’s education.”
Currently, a landlord only commits an offence where they fail to fulfil a local authority enforcement notice, and therefore cannot be held responsible for inhabitable conditions unless forced to carry out the repairs by a council.
The bill itself, which received cross-party support, will enable tenants to bypass council enforcement teams; many of which have extremely poor records of taking action against rogue landlords. It will also provide council tenants with an avenue of redress, as local authorities are unable to bring cases against themselves.
The bill also includes a “Grenfell clause”, allowing tenants to take action over common areas in shared buildings.