Too often, renting is unsafe. Our Fix Renting campaign , launched in January, focuses on three ways to make renting safer:
- Landlords to be legally responsible for doing electrical safety checks
- Letting agents made to better protect renters’ money
- All rented homes to be genuinely ‘fit for human habitation’
And thanks to the work of Shelter and our amazing supporters, the first two of them should now become law, along with strong measures tackling rogue landlords!
Changes to the law in the Housing and Planning Bill will mean that soon:
- Your landlord will have to carry out electrical safety checks. This really is a life-saving amendment. Regular checks should help make sure that the tragic death of Thirza, who sadly died because of unsafe electrics in her home, isn’t repeated.
- Your money will be better protected. There is already a law which says that your deposit has to be protected in a tenancy deposit scheme. Shelter have worked with the Association of Residential Letting Agencies (ARLA) to persuade government to change the law so that any money your letting agent handles on your behalf – like your rent payments – will have to be put into a separate bank account. So if a letting agent goes bust, commits fraud or steals it, you have a better chance of getting your money back.
- You’ll be able to get some rent back if you’ve rented from a rogue landlord. If you’ve had to live in poor conditions, you may be able to claim some of your rent back. Rent repayment orders already exist, but they couldn’t be used in cases of poor conditions until now.
- Your council will be able to fine your rogue landlord up to £30,000. So if you make a complaint to your local council about persistent bad conditions and your landlord still won’t do the repairs, the council will now be able to hit them where it hurts.
- Your council will have the power to ban a rogue landlord from letting properties. If you are unlucky enough to rent from a criminal landlord that repeatedly flouts the law, your council will have the power to ban them. If a banned landlord continues to rent properties out they could face a fine of up to £30,000 or even a prison sentence.
Whilst all great news, we’re hesitant to celebrate just yet – the Housing and Planning Bill still hasn’t passed through parliament. And even when it does, we still have a lot more work to do to fix the private rented sector, including making sure our third call around all rented homes being legally fit for human habitation becomes a reality.
Shockingly, the law that requires rented homes to be fit for human habitation can’t be used by renters to challenge their landlords anymore – even though it’s desperately needed. Frustratingly, just last week the government rejected an amendment that would bring it back to life. But with the help of our supporters, we’ll continue campaigning on this until everyone has a safe and decent place to call home.
If you haven’t already, join our campaign to fix renting, to keep the pressure up on government. We’ve been successful so far, so let’s try and make it a safer renting hat trick!
And a huge thank you to everyone who’s joined us already – the wins we’ve secured wouldn’t have happened without you.