Renters in England and Wales to be given right to sue their landlords for cold or mouldy homes
A new law is to give tenants the power to sue their landlords over cold and mouldy homes.
When the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act comes into effect on March 20, if properties in England and Wales don’t meet a certain standard, tenants can take their landlord to court.
According to Shelter, a homeless charity, there are currently almost one million rented homes with hazards that pose a serious risk to health and safety – affecting around 2.5million people.
It is hoped the new regulations will force landlords to carry out repairs or rectify problems.
Shelter said in a blog post that crucially, the bill will help private and social renter’s voices to be heard, by giving them the right to take their landlord to court over unfit and unsafe conditions like these in their home.
The Bill could help to prevent another tragedy like the Grenfell tower fire. This was the starkest reminder of the dangers of unsafe accommodation, it said.
If landlords don’t carry out the work when the act comes into play – those who have a tenancy of less than seven years will be given the right to take them to court. The court then has the power to grant an injunction against the landlord which would force them to carry out the work.
Chief executive of Shelter, Polly Neate said the Fitness for Human Habitation Act will give all types of renters the power they need to tackle bad conditions – which is why Shelter campaigned hard for it to be passed as law.
Polly said, with more and more families renting privately, there is a desperate need for more protections and security for renters. The Act will help enforce best practice for landlords and agents, act as a deterrent for bad behaviour, and provide a legal lever for renters to pull if their landlord isn’t complying.
Minister for housing and homelessness, Heather Wheeler MP, added the new law is a further step to ensure that tenants have the decent homes they deserve.
Landlord associations currently advise that an issue should be resolved within 24-hours if there is ‘significant risk of danger to the health, safety or security of a tenant’. They are then given three working days to rectify the problem and up to 28 days for less urgent repairs.
There are different rules for renters in Scotland and Northern Ireland.