Tenants will have more powers to hold landlords to account who rent out properties “unfit for human habitation”.
MPs reportedly cheered as they passed the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill on Friday, allowing private and social tenants in England to force landlords to carry out repairs. Tenants will also now have the right to sue landlords who do not carry out the work.
The bill seeks to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and will put power into the hands of tenants who were previously reliant on councils to enforce repairs. As the law stands currently, landlords only commit an offence if they fail to carry out a local authority enforcement notice - which councils appear reluctant to administer.
Freedom of information requests by backbencher Karen Buck, who introduced the bill, found that councils only bring enforcement action in cases relating to just 1% of the most serious hazards found in rented homes.
Ms Buck said a number of her constituents lived in poor housing, including one who was left “suicidal” by the terrible conditions they were forced to endure.
The Labour MP said the bill, which has received cross-party support, would provide “new powers to hold the worst landlords to account”.
“Many landlords take their responsibilities seriously but still a million households across the private and social sectors are forced to endure conditions which harm them or pose a serious risk of harm,” Ms Buck said.
“The effect of the bill is that the tenant will be able to take action against the landlord to make them put right any problems or hazards that make their dwelling unfit and the tenant can seek compensation when the landlord hasn’t done so.”
The bill now passes to the House of Lords and is expected to become law in the early part of 2019. It will apply to new tenancy agreements as well as existing social tenancies after a 12-month period.