Legal protection for tenants long overdue, says Law Society

By agency reporter
January 17, 2018

A parliamentary bid to improve conditions in rented accommodation has won the support of the Law Society of England and Wales.

Throwing his weight behind a private members bill by Karen Buck MP, Law Society president Joe Egan said it was a long overdue advancement for tenants’ rights.“It is remarkable in the UK in 2018 that tenants do not have an automatic legal right to live in a home fit for human habitation,” he said.

“Almost 3 million people are living in rental homes with category 1 hazards in England alone. These are hazards that have a serious and immediate risk to health and safety. Some of the law in this area has not been updated in more than 30 years and is no longer fit for purpose. It is vital parliament vote to ensure everyone has the right to live in a safe home.”

Joe Egan said finding the right balance between landlord and tenant rights was difficult but necessary. The majority of landlords act responsibly and maintain their properties appropriately,” he said.

“Giving renters greater rights to address concerns directly will improve access to justice in this important area.This Bill will readdress the balance and ensure the rights of both landlords and tenants will be respected.”

  • Up to 3 million people are living in rented homes in England which contain 'Category 1' hazards, which are categorised as posing ‘serious and immediate risk’ to a person’s health and safety.
  • Landlords’ obligations to maintain their property are limited to structures and certain fittings and equipment. They are not responsible for ensuring the likes of fire safety, adequate heating or ventilation, or for the condensation and mould which may follow.
  • Four-fifths of hazardous homes are privately-rented. At present, tenants are reliant on their local authority to serve an enforcement notice under the Housing Act 2004 to force their landlord to make repairs.
  • Some local housing authorities rarely issue enforcement notices. Over half of England’s councils issued only one or no repair directions in the past year, while half of all notices were issued by a single authority.
  • The Bill will give tenants the option of taking legal action directly, instead of being reliant on their local council to issue an enforcement notice.

The government has signalled its intention to support the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill in its Second Reading on Friday19 January 2018.

* The Law Society


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