Karen Buck MP for Westminster North secured ninth place in the Private Members’ Bill Ballot on 4 June 2015. She subsequently presented the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill on 24 June. The purpose of the Bill is “to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to require that residential rented accommodation is provided and maintained in a state of fitness for human habitation; and for connected purposes.”
The Second Reading debate for the Bill is scheduled to take place on 16 October 2015.
The private rented sector now houses more households in England than the social rented sector but has some of the poorest property standards. The 2013/14 English Housing Survey found that the private rented sector (PRS) had the highest proportion of non-decent homes (30%) in 2013. Dwellings in the PRS were identified as more than twice as likely to fail the decent home standard due to poor thermal comfort and to have a higher rate of disrepair.
There are statutory obligations on most private landlords to keep in repair the structure and exterior of their properties, and to repair installations for the supply of water, heating and sanitation. However, provisions requiring landlords to ensure that their properties are fit for human habitation have ceased to have effect as a result of annual rent limits (£52 or less, or £80 or less in London).
The House of Commons Library has produced a briefing setting out the law in relation to landlords’ obligations to maintain properties at a standard fit for human habitation. It looks at the current rules set out in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, as well as how the Bill seeks to amend these. The briefing also examines additional powers in place for local authorities to enforce property standards.