New bill will allow tenants to sue their landlord

Published on Mon, 15th Jan 2018 10:45

Karen Buck MP has tabled a private members bill aimed at improving rental conditions, which now has the full support of the Government, so is likely to become law.

Entitled Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill’ it aims to bolster both the 1985 and the 2004 Housing Acts.

It doesn’t introduce any new obligations on the landlord; they have always been liable to maintain the property(ies) to a good standard, as designated in both those Acts, but rather gives the tenant an ability to directly take the landlord to court if they don’t fulfil those obligations.

Previously it was only possible for a tenant to complain to the Local Authority to hope that they would take action.  Now they can circumvent that.

Note that it also applies to ALL housing tenures - Councils, housing associations, private landlords and build-to-rent will be on an equal footing.  Whereas previously council housing was exempt.

The Bill still requires a landlord to be notified of any disrepair, and have an opportunity to carry work out – and tenants must allow landlords access to homes to inspect them. 

Tenants cannot simply instigate court action, they need hard evidence, and the courts will very quickly deal with vexatious or malicious cases.

The Bill will initially only apply to new or renewed fixed term tenancies after it is implemented.  It will then apply to periodic tenancies 12 months after the bill comes into force, giving landlords time to ensure properties are up to standard. 

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill 2017-19 is expected to have its second reading debate on Friday 19 January 2018. The summary of the Bill states it is 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; to amend the Building Act 1984 to make provision about the liability for works on residential accommodation that do not comply with Building Regulations; and for connected purposes.