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Government to allow tenants to sue over poor property conditions

In an unusual move the government has today, Sunday, announced that it wants tenants to have the right to take legal action if their private rental property is in poor condition.

The Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government has taken the highly unorthodox step of announcing that it is helping Labour’s Karen Buck MP to draft a Private Members’ Bill known as the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability of Housing Standards) Bill.

The Bill ensures:


- that all landlords (both social and private sector) must ensure that their property is fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout and;

- where this is not done, the tenant will have the right to take legal action in the courts for breach of contract on the grounds that the property is unfit for human habitation.

Local authority powers to deal with landlords who rent out unsafe of substandard accommodation already exist to some extent with the Housing Health and Safety Rating System - which was introduced by the Housing Act 2004 – which gives councils the right to assess whether a property contains potentially serious risks to the health and safety of the occupants.

Where a property does contain hazards, local authorities have strong powers under the Housing Act 2004 to require that landlords make necessary improvements to a property. Where a property contains potentially serious risks to the health and safety of the occupants, the local authority must take appropriate action requiring the landlord to reduce or remove the risk.

Announcing his support for the Bill this morning, Sajid Javid, the Housing Secretary, said: “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 the 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.”

Buck has previously tried to get the measure through the Commons in recent years, without success.

Poll: Is this a measure letting agents should support?


  • Simon Shinerock

    I think these powers already exist, I can’t see tenants paying for a court case they may lose because their definition of unfit for human habitation is not the legal one. Most of the time a Property becomes unfit because of flood or fire or something that requires the tenant to leave anyway. If this happens to an owner they rent a property while their home is repaired, in the case of a tenant their contract is voided and they rent somewhere else. Giiving them the right to go back to the first Property doesn’t make sense, especially if they are required to do so, a refurbished Property may be worth more money or the owner may want to carry out other changes at the same time. This sounds like politically motivated law making

    Kat Scott

    If there is enough money in it the tenants will go for it.
    You right disrepair already exists in the private and public sector.
    The only thing that this new proposal may do is make it easier for the tenant to claim Alleged disrepair. It’s also more likely to be benefit tenants, so will not help increase the number of landlords willing to Let to them.

  • icon

    This is madness
    I am sure the no win no fee consultants are rubbing their hands with glee.
    There are many unscrupulous tenants who deliberately cause damage and this will open the flood gates.
    People are only just in getting by what a windfall it will be to get a claim in.
    How about protection for landlords when the properties are trashed and left in disgusting states.
    Landlords need third party deductions even when tenants have left.

  • icon

    This won't stop the black market of the few landlords who are under the radar letting out such properties as I suspect the tenants are scared of these type of landlords

  • icon

    This is a totally pointless bill....As if our compensation culture wasn’t already enough of a problem.... what about the tenants who misappropriate housing benefit by not using to make rent payments? Isn’t that fraud? Or theft? And tenants who simply don’t pay and abandoned the property? Or tenants who destroy properties and move on to the next? Shouldn’t landlords have more support in these and many other areas? Pretty soon they’ve got to run out of ways to kick landlords and agents and realise who needs protection and support - it’s certainly not the tenants! Also, Sajid Javid “everyone deserves a safe and decent place to live” I take it that doesn’t apply to our homeless population?! Build more social housing schemes and raise the housing benefit rate for under 35s and stop faffing about passing bills for the sake of looking busy, then everyone might have a chance at a decent place to live!!

  • icon

    ok well help landlords with tax breaks,stop bashing them,we are not rich ! tax free grants should be brought in.

  • James B

    Can’t beat a bit of landlord bashing on a Sunday ! Must be new strategy to impress the tenants

  • icon

    Landlord to tenant, "You have turned this property into a filthy, unsafe dump. I am evicting you"

    Clever lawyer to same tenant, " sit tight and sue the landlord. They will have to put you in alternate lodgings while the damage is being sorted and then you will get the same property back again in good condition and get damages from the landlord.

    Useless tenant to lawyer, "Wow this is great stuff, let's go for it!"

    Lawyer to tenant, "Don't forget you can do this time and time again"


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