Homes should not be unfit for human habitation

Beckenham Labour

Part of this article is taken from the Redbrick Housing Blog with addition information supplied by Dermot McKibbin.

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill which Karen Buck MP has introduced as a private member’s Bill has its second reading on 19 January 2018.

Crucially, for the Bill to proceed there must be 100 MPs present on 19 January to guarantee a vote. It’s not as easy as it sounds because private member’s Bills are debated on a Friday when most MPs have returned to their constituencies. So: that’s where everyone interested in progressive housing policies comes in. Please make sure your MP is there to vote for the Bill!

Why the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill is important in Beckenham ?

Currently, landlords have no obligation to their tenants to put or keep the property in a condition fit for habitation. There is an obligation on the landlord to repair the structure of the property, and keep in repair, heating, gas, water and electricity installations, but that only applies where something is broken or damaged. It does not cover things like fire safety, or inadequate heating, or poor ventilation causing condensation and mould growth.

The 2011 census found that 16,500 households in Bromley rented from a housing association and 17,500 households rented from a private landlord.

In the Beckenham constituency the census found that 2,084 households rented from a housing association and 4,965 households rented from a private landlord . The ward with the greatest number of private tenants is Copers Cope with 2,243 households renting from a private landlord. This figure is nearly 30% of all households in Copers Cope Ward. This figure is probably higher as the census information is six years out of date.

Bromley Council has a low level of enforcement action in the private rented sector.

How the Bill Helps

For any tenancy granted for less than 7 years term (including all periodic tenancies), the Bill will add an implied term that

(a) that the dwelling is fit for human habitation at the time of the grant; and,

(b) that the lessor will thereafter keep it fit for human habitation.

What this would mean is that the tenant could take action against the landlord to make them put right any problems or hazards that make the property unfit and could seek compensation when the landlord hasn’t done so.

It is not a replacement for the council’s own powers, but works alongside them, enabling tenants to take action where the council hasn’t, or can’t. For all new tenancies after the Bill comes into force, it will make it a right to have a home fit for living in.

Please support this bill by writing to your MP and encourage others to do the same. For those in the Beckenham Constituency, please get in touch with us and let us know what reply you get from Bob Stewart.