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MPs in the House of Commons have backed a new plan enabling tenants to sue their landlord if their rental property is not up to scratch.
A new rights bill that requires homes in the private and social rented sector to be fit for human habitation, has been passed by the House of Commons.
From next year tenants in England will be able to sue their landlord to force them to remedy problems or hazards that make their home ‘unfit for habitation’ – and will also be able to seek compensation if work is not done – after cross-party support ensured that the private member’s bill introduced by the Labour backbencher Karen Buck passes to the House of Lords.
The bill will allow tenants to bypass council enforcement teams and take action themselves. It will also give council tenants an avenue for redress, as local authorities cannot bring cases against themselves.
Currently, a landlord only commits an offence when they fail to comply with a local authority enforcement notice, so they cannot be held responsible for poor conditions unless they have been told to carry out repairs by a council. But from next year the tenant will be able take action themselves and sue their landlord.
Karen Buck Said: ‘Living in a cold, damp or unsafe home is hell. It damages people’s physical and mental wellbeing. It erodes the income of the poorest households. It impacts on children’s education. The most vulnerable tenants are most at risk of being trapped in substandard accommodation.’
The government is supporting the bill and announced a review of the safety standards expected of rental housing
Heather Wheeler, minister for housing and homelessness: said: ‘The bill is an important part of our work to raise awareness of this vital issue – that of standards in rented properties.’
The new bill is expected to become law in the early part of 2019 and will apply to new tenancy agreements as well as existing social tenancies after a 12-month period.