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Tenants to gain powers as Buck’s homes bill becomes law

Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 has passed into legislation
10 January 2019 , Katie Coyne

Standards of residential accommodation should be boosted as the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 has passed into legislation. However, its effectiveness will depend on how the new powers are put into practice, CIEH has said.

Karen Buck, Labour MP for Westminster North, sponsored the bill, which requires that residential rental property is maintained properly and gives residents powers to sue landlords for damages for breaches.

The legislation applies to tenants in all sectors, including social housing. Buck has said previously that this bill could have applied to Grenfell residents had it been in place then. The act gained royal assent on 20 December and will come into force three months from this date.

CIEH policy manager Tamara Sandoul said: ‘We have supported this act from the very beginning and are delighted that it is now three months away from coming into force. It should help to shift the balance of power towards private and social tenants and give them another avenue to take action against rogue or negligent landlords.

‘There are still, however, big questions around how this act will work in practice and how tenants will be supported and encouraged to use the new powers. We would like to work closely with Government as the guidance to support this act is developed so that possible loopholes are closed.’

Buck, for example, called for legal aid to be reinstated for housing issues relating to fitness for human habitation and to strengthen powers available to tackle retaliatory evictions. It’s not clear whether this will happen, although Communities secretary James Brokenshire MP has said he wants to create a separate court to deal with housing issues and make the housing market fairer.

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