Bill allowing tenants to sue landlords passes second reading!
Last week MPs voted in favour of the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill and yesterday the Bill passed its second reading, meaning it is a step closer to becoming law.
The Bill has been introduced by Labour MP Karen Buck who has twice previously tried to introduce a Private Members Bill on the issue without success.
MPs voted unanimously to pass the Bill in the House of Commons meaning it will now move to the Committee stage where it will be examined in detailed.
The Bill seeks to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to require that residential rented accommodation is provided and maintained in a state of fitness for human habitation.
It will provide tenants with the right to sue their landlords if the property is deemed uninhabitable for humans. Many in the industry see this as a positive step forward in holding rogue landlords accountable for the condition that properties are let in, forcing them to raise standards and maintain their portfolios.
All homes should be presented and maintained in a habitable state and the majority of landlords and investors will not be affected if the law is brought in. However it will help force those who are not to comply with the new laws.
The Residential Landlord’s Association (RLA) vice-chairman Alan Ward commented on the matter:
“While the vast majority of landlords provide properties which are safe, legal and secure, there is a minority that brings the sector into disrepute. That is why the RLA is supporting Karen Buck MP’s Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability of Housing Standards) Bill.”
However a leading letting agent has warned that these measures to protect tenants should go much further. Although the proposed bill will ensure that all landlords check that their property is fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout Paul Sloan the operations director at haart said:
“The aim of this bill is to raise standards and push the bad boys out of the market, but, it is just another bit of legislation and I think there is a danger that the bad boys will be driven underground rather than out. If the government is going to regulate, it needs to regulate the industry as a whole – that’s the only way to raise standards across the board, not this piecemeal approach which seems designed more to win votes than to actually change the way that the rental market operates.”
The government has already introduced a range of powers for local authorities that enable them to crack down on the small minority of landlords who rent out unsafe or substandard accommodation these include being able to fine failing landlords up to £30,000 and from April this year councils will also be able to issue banning orders for the worst offenders.