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Letting agents join growing army of supporters for tenants' right to sue

The Association of Residential Letting Agents is the latest industry body to throw its weight behind the Private Members’ Bill that gives tenants the right to sue their landlords over the poor condition of rental properties.

Labour’s Karen Buck - whose Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability of Housing Standards) Bill has the backing of the government - secured a second reading for the measure on Friday; it now moves to the committee stage for detailed consideration in the House of Commons in the spring.

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.

ARLA supports the measure and over the weekend David Cox, the association’s chief executive, issued a statement saying: “We’re pleased the Bill has passed in Parliament after two failed attempts. It will give renters greater protection against criminal operators, is a step in the right direction for the market, and as Karen Buck MP said, we look forward to working with her to achieve better enforcement against those who bring the sector into disrepute.”

Poll: This measure is unnecessary - there's already enough legislation over standards

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    Hopefully this Bill will help to root out rogue, bad landlords. It may not work well however unless there is a strong, well manned government body behind it - a body that will take up a case when a tenant reports poor living conditions and follow through. If the tenant has to take action himself it may not work as generally speaking people are frightened of taking someone to court, especially a landlord. This has been the case with deposit legislation. It would carry so much more weight if there was a body to act on behalf of the tenant. Tenants will be frightened of losing their home if they take action themselves even though we now have new legislation to cover this. Who is monitoring these rogue landlords? Nobody I fear - local authorities simply do not have the funds or the man power to follow up complaints - if they did all this good legislation could be properly implemented and would have 'teeth'. Yet again it is down to money.

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