Government welcomes landmark law which will improve the safety of tenants

Heather Wheeler MP has welcomed a new law to help boost standards in rented homes

A new law that will help to boost standards in rented homes and give tenants more powers to hold their landlord to account has been welcomed by Housing and Homelessness Minister, Heather Wheeler MP today (20 December 2018).

Under the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act, landlords of both social and privately rented properties must make sure that their properties meet certain standards at the beginning and throughout a tenancy. If they fail to do this, tenants have the right to take legal action – making this a landmark moment for the rented sector.

The Private Members’ Bill, which has received Royal Assent today, supports ongoing government action to protect tenants and drive up standards in rented properties.

Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Heather Wheeler MP said:

"Everyone deserves a safe and decent place to live, regardless of whether you own your home or rent it.

"That’s why government has introduced a range of measures to help ensure that people who are renting have good quality and well-maintained properties to call home.

"This new law is a further step to ensure that tenants have the decent homes they deserve."

The government has introduced a range of powers for local authorities to enable them to crack down on the small minority of rogue landlords and agents who let unfit properties. This includes fixed financial penalties of up to £30,000 and banning orders – possibly for life – for the most serious offenders.

We have also extended mandatory licensing for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) to improve living conditions of tenants in shared homes and tightened up rules on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Private tenants can also apply for a refund of up to twelve months’ rent if their landlord does not deal with health and safety hazards in their home.

We are also banning unfair letting fees and capping tenancy deposits, saving renters around £240 million a year. The Tenant Fees Bill, currently making its way through Parliament, will bring an end to unnecessary, costly fees imposed by landlords or property agents. This will stop tenants being charged unnecessarily and put hard-earned cash back in their pockets.

Other government steps to reform and improve renting include:

• The launch of a national database of rogue landlords and agents to keep track of those that are renting out unsafe and substandard accommodation;

• A comprehensive review of the rating system used by local authorities to assess the presence of serious risks to the health and safety of occupants;

• Mandatory client money protection – by which rental money held by letting agents is safeguarded against theft and fraud – for all agents;

• Requirement for all landlords to belong to a mandatory redress scheme and;

• New, mandatory five yearly electrical installation safety inspections

This is all part of ongoing government activity to make the private rented sector fairer and more transparent – making a housing market that works for everyone.