Law enabling tenants to take landlords to court over low-quality homes get Royal Assent

Legislation sponsored by Labour MP Karen Buck now set to come into force in late March after passing final parliamentary hurdle.

A Private Members Bill that will enable tenants to sue rogue landlords if their homes are not fit for human habitation has received Royal Assent and will become law in three months’ time.

The new legislation has come about through the tireless work of Labour MP for Westminster North Karen Buck supported by Lord Best in the Lords. In a tweet yesterday, she also thanked campaigning groups Shelter and Generation Rent for their support.

The government backed Buck’s bill during its more recent passage through parliament and has described its entry onto the state book as a ‘landmark’ moment for the rented sector.

It has been a long road for the bill, which was initially introduced in 2015 and endured several false starts in parliament until the current government gave reform of the ‘broken’ housing sector high priority.

“Everyone deserves a safe and decent place to live, regardless of whether you own your home or rent it,” says housing minister Heather Wheeler (left).

“This new law is a further step to ensure that tenants have the decent homes they deserve.”

Once in force the legislation will give tenants the right to take legal action in the courts for breach of contract if a property is not fit for human habitation.

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act amends the relevant sections of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, updating the ‘fit for human habitation’ test, but it only applies to England.

The Landlord and Tenancy Act had become hopelessly out of date on many levels and, for example, only applied to homes rented out for £52 or less, and £80 in London.

Fitness for human consumption covers a range of basic standards including repairs, freedom from damp, natural light, ventilation, drainage, and both toilet and cooking facilities.

One Comment

  1. This is great news for renters. We need to ensure that are not just maximising a single metric, like the number of houses, while ignoring whether or not those homes actually provide sufficient habitation for a net positive impact of the lives of the people living in them.

    This piece of legislation allows the individuals the power to act when this is not the case, but also allows the government to gather statistics about the habitability of housing in the PRS.

    Well done to Karen and all the civil servants involved!

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