NLA backs new 'fit for habitation' bill

by Gary Whittaker

A private member's bill that sets out minimum standards for rental accomodation and provides new legal rights of redress for tenants has been backed by the National Landlords' Association.

Sponsored by Westminster North MP Karen Buck, the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill has a strong chance of passing its second reading in the House of Commons after communities secretary Sajid Javid confirmed the government's support for it.

A similar bill by Ms Buck was 'talked out' by backbench Conservative MPs in 2015, but the ministerial intervention should prevent such filibustering this time and get the support of over 100 MPs that it needs. 

Her legislation would ensure landlords in both the social and private sector need to maintain properties as fit for human habitation from the start of a tenancy. Failure to do so will constitute breach of contract. At the same time, the landlord will not be liable if the damage is the tenant's fault. 

The NLA has backed the bill because it believes it will boost the reputation of landlords by forcing standards up. Officials from the body have met Ms Buck to discuss the bill. 

NLA chief executive Richard Lambert said: "The government’s support for this bill is very welcome. Too often, tenants living in sub-standard properties are let down by local authorities being unwilling to make effective use of their extensive enforcement powers.

"This bill will help ensure that the vast majority of good landlords, who are already keeping their properties up to the standards expected, are not undercut by less reputable landlords who deliberately shirk their responsibilities."

He added that the NLA will be working to ensure that the final bill does not provide an opportunity for tenants to make "vexatious" claims against landlords.
Confirming his support for the bill, Mr Javid said that there is plenty of legislation in place that councils can already use to enforce housing standards, but as public safety is a "paramount" concern it is appropriate to back these further steps. 

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16-January-18General Lettings News