New law to protect tenants against rogue landlords
The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill will soon become law after passing its third reading at the House of Lords and achieving Royal Assent.
The Private Members’ Bill, tabled by Karen Buck MP, will offer both private and social tenants in England the power to take their landlords to court if their home is unsafe.
The new legislation will require all leases to have an implied covenant stating that landlords must ensure their properties are inhabitable at the start of the tenancy and throughout occupation.
Tenants would be able to seek legal redress through the courts, without having to first go through their councils, if landlords fail to do this.
Under the new law, negligent landlords would be required to remove hazards or pay compensation to tenants.
ARLA Propertymark chief executive David Cox said: “We’re pleased the bill has now received Royal Assent after a swift passage through Parliament.
“These new rules will give renters greater protection against criminal operators and is a step in the right direction for the market.
“We congratulate Karen Buck MP on her work and we look forward to continuing to work with her to achieve better enforcement against those who bring the sector into disrepute.”
Karen Buck said: “After three and a half years and three attempts, it is wonderful to finally have got the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act on the statute book.
“There are a million properties - home to some 3 million people - that are unsafe or unfit to occupy and this act will provide those tenants, private and public, with a way to act against bad landlords.”
The new law does not introduce new property standards, but provides tenants with the power to enforce those that already exist.
It will however include issues not covered by landlords’ current legal repair responsibilities, including damp caused by poor design and infestations.
The bill will come into force for new tenancies (and those which become periodic after the end of a fixed term) in three months. It will come into effect for existing tenancies a year after that.