Bid to protect tenants is supported by landlords and agents
Friday 26 October 2018
A Government bill to protect tenants has won the support of trade bodies ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) and the RLA (Residential Landlords Association).
Labour MP Karen Buck’s Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill received cross-party support and government backing during its Third Reading, last Friday, and will now be moved to the House of Lords for further scrutiny.
The RLA supports the Bill because it doesn’t introduce any new obligations, as “the standard is already in place via the housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS).”
A spokesperson said: “It will extend to all housing tenures. This means that councils, housing associations, private landlords and build-to-rent will be on an equal footing.
“It will give council tenants a route to enforcement that is currently unavailable. Councils cannot take enforcement action against themselves, and are often reluctant to act against social housing.
“If the Bill is passed social housing tenants will be able to access direct enforcement of housing standards. It also provides an alternative route to enforcement.
“Local authorities have cut back in areas like environmental health spending in recent years, leaving little capacity to prosecute criminal landlords.
“Now tenants, with suitable backing and proper evidence, will be able to take direct action to raise standards and help force the worst elements out of our sector.”
ARLA Propertymark believes it will “serve to better protect renters against those who bring the sector into disrepute.”
If it becomes law, all landlords (both social and private sector) must ensure their property is fit for human habitation at the beginning, and throughout the duration, of a tenancy.
If this is not done, the tenant will have the right to take legal action in the courts for breach of contract on the grounds that the property is unfit for human habitation.
The Bill now also has what is being referred to as a 'Grenfell' clause which extends provision to cover common areas of a building.
The Private Landlords (Registration) Bill was also set for a Second Reading, endorsed by Labour MP, Phil Wilson and backed by the Shadow Housing Secretary, John Healey. This Bill would require all landlords in England to hold a mandatory licence.
Also up for debate was the Second Reading of the Creditworthiness Assessment Bill, which started in the House of Lords.
If passed, this Bill would allow renters to attain creditworthiness through payment history of Council Tax and rent.
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