Today MP Karen Buck’s Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act has come into force. This new Act, making amendments to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and the Building Act 1984, has been put in place to change the state of safety in rented accommodation for tenants.
Having gained Government support, Buck has finally managed to win her fight to bring in the Bill, after two previous failed attempts. News Editor for Housing Management & Maintenance magazine Patrick Mooney has pointed out in a recent article that these past efforts had been “talked out largely by Conservative MPs, who also happened to be private landlords themselves.”
We are not going to see any new additions to laws concerning housing standards in the UK, but this Act will provide more power to tenants, in regards to enforcing the standards that are already in place.
Buck stated: “There are a million properties, home to some three million people, that are unsafe or unfit to occupy, and this Act will provide those tenants, private and public, with a way to act against bad landlords.”
The Act currently affects any new tenancy granted from now on, with the amendments also affecting renewed tenancies from next year.
As with any change in legislation that will affect landlords, there is a worry that some may sell up and pull out of the market. However, despite these concerns, there is support for the Act from housing associations.
David Cox, Chief Executive of ARLA Propertymark, has commented: “These rules give renters greater protection against criminal operators and it is a step in the right direction for the market. We congratulate Karen Buck and we look forward to continuing to work with her to achieve better enforcing against those who bring the sector into disrepute.”
This new law makes it easier for tenants to take a landlord to court, if the accommodation they provide does not meet legal standards. Properties need to be fit for habitation at the beginning of a tenancy, which is the responsibility of any social or private rental sector (PRS) landlord, or the agent managing the property on their behalf.
The good landlords out there need not worry, as they should not find themselves in a situation affected by this act. It is the individuals who believe that they can get away with taking rent payments from tenants for accommodation that is not fit to live in, who will hopefully be more successfully held accountable for their actions (or lack of).
Will the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act have the desired affect on the PRS? As with any new law passed, only time will tell, but we hope that it does help to increase the amount of safe and reliable housing in the UK.