Fitness for Human Habitation Bill: What Can Tenants and Landlords Expect?
Back in January, the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons, meaning that Parliament supports the creation of a new law to govern this aspect of housing. In light of this, what can we expect to happen now?
The idea of a Fitness for Human Habitation Bill goes back to the 1880s but, in practice, the law has not been updated since 1985. At that time, a rent ceiling was set so that only properties with a rental income under a certain level had to comply with the law. Now, the new bill proposes to scrap the rent ceiling altogether so that all landlords have to conform.
The new law will also make escalating problems with rental properties much easier for tenants. At the moment, if a landlord ignores a request for a repair, then the local council has to intervene and assess whether the landlord needs to take action before prosecution can occur.
If and when the new law comes into force, however, tenants will have the right to take their landlords to court themselves if a reasonable living standard is not maintained at the property they live in. So, for example, if a leak occurs and the landlord fails to arrange repairs within a suitable time frame, the tenants will be legally entitled to take further action against the landlord.
This is welcome news for tenants, who, to date, have been little protected by existing property laws. It is thought that housing standards will be rise in general as a result of the law, especially in the private renting sector, which is currently subject to relatively low levels of regulation. The progress with passage of the bill is a real win for tenants in the private and social housing sectors, given that the bill has been thrown out of Parliament in the past. It is thought that, since the Grenfell Tower disaster of last year, MPs have become more supportive of extra legislation regarding housing.
The next stage is the Committee stage, where a group of politicians, in consultation with experts, reads the bill line by line and makes any necessary amendments. After this, reports are made and MPs are asked to vote once more on whether or not they support the bill. So, for now, we will just have to watch this space!
Julie Twist Properties takes rental property standards very seriously. All our managed properties are subject to regular property inspections to ensure that they are fit for habitation. To discuss our range of management packages with a property expert, contact our property management team.
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