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Tenants one step closer to being able to sue landlords over conditions

Tenants are now a step closer to being able to sue landlords if they do not properly maintain their properties.

The Commons has passed a measure requiring homes in the private and social rented sector to be fit for human habitation and enabling tenants to take legal action if basic standards are not met.

Labour MP Karen Buck’s Private Members Bill – the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill – now goes to the House of Lords for debate.

However, as it has government support it is highly likely to become law in 2019.

The Bill seeks to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, and if it becomes law it will ensure that all private and social sector landlords must ensure that their property is fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout.

More controversially, 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.

The Bill will initially apply only to new or renewed fixed term tenancies after it is implemented; 12 months after it becomes law – probably late next year – it will be extended to apply to periodic tenancies.

Buck, Labour MP for Westminster North, told the Commons on Friday: “Living in a cold, damp, or unsafe home is hell. It damages people’s physical and mental well-being,” she said.

“It erodes the income of the poorest households. It impacts on children’s education.

“The most vulnerable tenants are those most at risk of being trapped in sub-standard accommodation and they are often least able to withstand the damage such conditions do.”

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