In January MPs passed the The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill to progress to the next stage.
The Bill, put forward by Karen Buck MP, will give tenants the power to take their landlord to court if their homes are deemed not fit for purpose at the start of, and throughout, their tenancy. It will now progress to the Committee stage.
The Bill does not place any new standards or regulatory burdens on landlords which they are not already legally obliged to meet under the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), but will build on the existing Landlord & Tenant Act 1985.
This will apply to privately rented properties, but also to sub-standard properties owned by councils or housing associations. There will be more parity in all rental markets, giving tenants in both the private and social rented sectors the opportunities to hold to account those landlords providing accommodation that is not up to scratch.
This is not a charter for spurious tenant complaints. Tenants would first need to raise their concerns with their landlord and provide sufficient time for the landlord to respond. Only after that could the tenant go to court, and even then the court would need to be satisfied that the concern raised by the tenant was genuine and that it was not related to a problem of their own making.
The Bill seeks to achieve better enforcement of existing laws and regulations against those who currently undermine the good landlords who bring the sector into disrepute. That should be welcomed.