Fitness for Human Habitation: Government support for new rights for renters

The government announced its support for the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill, which has its crucial second reading in the House of Commons on 19 January. It is very exciting that the government is putting its weight behind the new measures. They’ll help help to ensure that all rented homes in England are safe, and give tenants the right to take legal action against landlords who fail to fulfil their duties.

Cross-party support

Government support means that the bill now has cross-party support – both sides of the house are coming together to make things better for renters.

And it’s not just politicians who are lining up behind it; pretty much everyone is. Landlord bodies, such as the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), the National Landlords Association (NLA) and the National Housing Federation (NHF) have all given their support to the bill. Other supporters include the recently formed PRS Partnership Board, set up by Nationwide – of which we, the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), Countrywide, the NLA, and the Nationwide Foundation are all part.

A crucial opportunity

Over a million private and social-rented properties – home to between two and a half to three million people, including children – have Category 1 hazards. This means that conditions present a serious risk to the health and safety of people living there.

The bill is a crucial opportunity to ensure that all properties that are let to tenants are fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy, and remain so throughout. The legislation updates and streamlines the existing piece-meal legislation into one set of standards. And it will give tenants more power to use the law to force those landlords who do not keep their properties in good condition to take action.

Take action now

Even with the government’s very welcome support, we still have a long way to go. We still need at least 100 MPs to attend the debate on Friday, to ensure that the bill passes through to the next stage.

Without the magic 100, it is possible for just one MP to derail it and stop it becoming law. But you can help stop this happening. Recent our recent blog for more details on how you can help, and how to see if your MP is planning to attend.

• Get your MP’s attention, before time runs out – tweet your MP now to ask if they’ll attend the second reading