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Lawyers and MP draft Bill to give more repair powers to tenants

The Law Society Gazette has given more details of a Parliamentary Bill in preparation to give more powers to tenants to legally oblige landlords to fix hazards that pose a serious threat to their health and safety.

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill will have its second reading in the House of Commons in January; it is sponsored by Karen Buck, who is Labour MP for Westminster North and a prominent campaigner on private rental sector housing standards, as well as being chair of the all-party parliamentary group on legal aid.

The Gazette reports that Giles Peaker, a partner at London firm Anthony Gold Solicitors, and Justin Bates, of Arden Chambers in London, have been working with Buck on the Bill.

It suggests that if it becomes law, the Bill will enable tenants to take action against their landlord to fix a 'category one' hazard (such as exposed wiring, overloaded sockets, a leaking roof or badly fitted doors) in their building, not just in their specific apartment.

The new Bill may build on existing provisions in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 which deals with disrepair to the building structure and exterior, and the Environmental Protection Act 1990 which enables tenants to take action where their premises is affected by a 'statutory nuisance'.

However, it is suggested that those two older pieces of legislation are sometimes difficult for tenants to trigger; the new Bill seeks to give greater powers to tenants to force landlords in both the social and private sectors to take action.

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