Thursday 20 December 2018 / 11:47 AM Housing / John Healey

Labour-led ‘homes fit for human habitation’ legislation comes into force

The Housing (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill, sponsored by Labour MP Karen Buck, becomes law today.

The landmark legislation gives private and social tenants new rights to take action against their landlord if their property is unfit to live in because of problems like damp, mould, infestation of vermin or risk of fire.

At present, private tenants have to rely upon over-stretched environmental health officers to deal with unfit housing, while many social tenants do not even have this option because councils cannot enforce standards against themselves.

Almost a million rented properties are currently thought to be unfit for human habitation according to the official English Housing Survey.

The measures in this legislation were backed by Labour in their 2017 manifesto. The Conservatives voted against similar changes when Labour brought them as an amendment to Government legislation in 2016, but the Government has since backed Karen Buck’s backbench Bill.

Karen Buck, Labour MP for Westminster North, who has sponsored the legislation, said:

“Three million people are forced to live in homes which are unsafe or unhealthy, riddled with damp or unbearably cold- and many have, until now, lacked the ability to take any action to deal with this.

“The passage of the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill into law marks another step forward in the fight against the bad housing conditions that blight the lives of millions of tenants in both private and social housing.

“Labour’s 2017 election manifesto pledged to put into law this vital protection for tenants and it is great news that this has finally been achieved. Good landlords have nothing to fear from this new law, but those who let their tenants down and put them at risk now face being called to account for it.”

John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, said:

“Our homes are at the centre of our lives, but at the moment too many renters are forced to put up with unacceptable, unfit and downright dangerous housing.

“This welcome new legislation shows that Labour is winning the argument and making the running on the housing changes the country needs.”