New powers to hold the worst landlords to account
In all sectors there are the good and the bad. When it comes to landlords, many are angry and frustrated by the damage to the reputation of the industry caused by the actions of a small few. Good landlords work hard to consistently provide a high quality property and management service to their tenants, yet their stories are never highlighted in the press.
Labour MP Karen Buck has been pushing her home Bill - Fitness For Human Habitation and Liability For Housing Standards, which recently had its third reading in the House of Commons. The bill was passed without division and will now move on to the next stage, where it will be scrutinised in the House of Lords.
Buck explained, “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.
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.”
In September, Karen Buck stated that she hopes the Bill would be “In the statute book early next year”. The Bill will be introduced in stages to ensure that landlords have time to bring their properties up to standard. New or renewed fixed-term tenancies will be required to be compliant with the bill when implemented, followed 12 months later by periodic tenancies.
A ‘Grenfell’ clause was added to the second reading of the Bill to cover the communal areas of a building, such as stairs and hallways, as well as dangerous exterior cladding. According to Buck, 750,000 private sector homes have Category One hazards, and 250,000 in the social rented sector.
The Housing Minister, Heather Wheeler, explained that “The Government strongly supports this Bill and it is clear that there is support across the House as well. The Bill will empower tenants and help to further improve standards in rented houses and flats.”
It is time for landlords to ‘exit the game’ should they not be able to provide homes that are fit for habitation, stated Shadow Housing Minister Jim McMahon, who also welcomes the Bill.
As a company with a strong lettings arm to the business, we will be watching how this Bill develops with keen interest. We are always striving to increase the standards of the lettings industry and those landlords that are providing a good service to their tenants have nothing to fear. We hope that the Bill will start to clean up the industry and highlight the fantastic service that our landlords provide their tenants on a daily basis.