There have been more expressions of support from industry bodies for the Private Members’ Bill from Labour’s Karen Buck MP which is going for its second reading in the House of Commons tomorrow.
Now two major landlord bodies have expressed support, too, despite the Bill proposing to give tenants the right to take legal action against landlords who leave their rental properties to fall into poor condition.
The Bill ensures that all landlords (both social and private sector) must mak their property fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout; where a landlord fails to do so, the tenant has the right to take legal action in the courts for breach of contract on the grounds that the property is unfit for human habitation. Landlords are exempt where the damage is due to the tenant’s actions.
If passed, the provisions will apply to all new English tenancies granted after its commencement and to all periodic tenancies after a period of 12 months from commencement.
The National Landlords Association backs it with chief executive Richard Lambert saying: “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 under-cut by less reputable landlords who deliberately shirk their responsibilities.
“As the Bill progresses through Parliament the NLA will seek to ensure that proper protections remain in place so that landlords are not faced with vexatious claims, nor face punishment for conditions that result from the tenant’s actions.”
Support has come from the Residential Landlords Association as well.
This body says its support stems from the fact that the Bill does not create new standards of minimum property condition - the existing standard, measured via the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, will prevail.
In addition, the RLA approves that the suggested regulation means a landlord still has to be notified of any disrepair, and have an opportunity to carry work out – and tenants must allow landlords access to homes to inspect them.
“Tenants cannot simply instigate court action, they need hard evidence, and the courts will very quickly deal with vexatious or malicious cases” says the association.