Tenants granted new powers to hold rogue landlords to account as MPs pass housing bill
Labour politician warns of constituents left 'suicidal' over poor living conditions
Tenants have been granted new powers to take action against rogue landlords.
MPs in the commons cheered after unanimously approving the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill, which gives both private and social tenants the power to take their landlords to court if their home is unsafe.
Labour MP Karen Buck, who proposed the private members’ bill, earlier said a number of her constituents lived in poor housing, including one who was left “suicidal” by terrible conditions.
The Westminster North MP said the government-backed bill would provide “new powers to hold the worst landlords to account”.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
The bill includes a so-called Grenfell clause, which allows tenants to take action over common areas in shared buildings.
Labour MP for Kensington Emma Dent Coad 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.”
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.”
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.”
After passing its third reading on Friday, the bill will head to the Lords, where it will be further scrutinised.