Tenants will have power to ‘hold worst landlords to account’ under new measures

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Tenants will have the power to “hold the worst landlords to account” under new measures designed to improve the rented housing sector.

Labour MP Karen Buck warned of numerous constituents who had suffered living in poor housing – including one who had been left “suicidal” – as the Commons considered her Private Members’ Bill.

The Westminster North MP said her Homes (Fitness For Human Habitation and Liability For Housing Standards) Bill will give tenants “new powers to hold the worst landlords to account”, allowing them to take action to require standards are improved.

She said: “Many landlords take their responsibilities seriously but still a million households across the private and social sectors are forced to endure conditions which harm them or pose a serious risk of harm.

“The effect of the Bill is that the tenant will be able to take action against the landlord to make them put right any problems or hazards that make their dwelling unfit and the tenant can seek compensation when the landlord hasn’t done so.”

MPs cheered as the proposed legislation was unanimously approved at third reading. It will undergo further scrutiny in the Lords at a later date.

Shadow housing minister Jim McMahon welcomed the Bill and said if landlords could not provide homes fit for habitation it was time to “exit the game”.

He said: “Many of us would have received representations from private landlords who are screaming about the impact of this on their ability to make profit.

“Let’s be absolutely clear, if you cannot make profit by providing a clean and safe place for people to live, exit the game completely.”

Emma Dent Coad, Labour MP for Kensington, spoke of “Dickensian” social housing, and said: “Poor housing is damaging health and sometimes killing my constituents and they have had until now no legal redress.”

Housing minister Heather Wheeler said there is “still more to do” to ensure tenants are “armed with information” so they know their rights and responsibilities, but said the Bill would help improve standards.

She said: “The Government strongly supports this Bill and it is clear that there is support across the House as well.

“The Bill will empower tenants and help to further improve standards in rented houses and flats.”

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