New law says tenant can sue you over poor property

The thought of more legislation is enough to make any landlord’s blood run cold, especially this early in the year.

However, it seems like that’s what we’re looking at, with a recent announcement about new regulations on the way - this time to allow tenants the right to take landlords to court over poor quality housing. However, this legislation really is aimed at rogue landlords, and should have no impact on the hundreds of thousands of landlords who provide safe, secure properties for their tenants.

The new rules are a positive step forward in the fight against poor quality housing stock, with a view to ensure that tenants have a strong position to put their foot down over properties that are not fit for human habitation – regardless of the type of landlord, social or private.

Whilst the legislation is similar in theory to the regulations which will be introduced in April, which will allow councils to issue significant fines, or even banning orders to landlords who do not comply with safety regulations, the new legislation hands even more power to tenants.

The legislation, which was first instigated in the form of a Private Member’s Bill by Labour MP Karen Buck, has been given the backing of the house, in an about-turn move. When initially promoted in 2015/2016, the bill was voted down by a majority of MPs. Buck then fought to reintroduce her bill in the aftermath of the Grenfell fire disaster, and was supported by Secretary of State for Housing Sajid Javid, who confirmed the Government’s support for the legislation to ensure the safety of rented property.

A second reading of the legislation is due to be heard in the Commons on Friday. If the Government fully support the Bill, it could enter the formal legislative process in the first half of this year.

Everyone deserves a decent and safe place to live. Councils already have wide-ranging powers to crack down on the minority of landlords who rent out unsafe and substandard accommodation. However, public safety is paramount and I am determined to do everything possible to protect tenants. That is why government will support new legislation that requires all landlords to ensure properties are safe and give tenants the right to take legal action if landlords fail in their duties.

Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Housing

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