Murky Depths

News in London and beyond

Greenwich borough, Housing

Rented homes now need to be fit for human habitation

Yes, you may think this was a given but lax regulation of rentals in the UK means only now are some additional measures in place to ensure homes are fit for human habitation.

A new law introduced on March 20th enables renters the right to take landlords to court free of charge in England if properties do not meet standards such as being insulated or having mould resulting in being unfit for habitation.

Erith and Thamesmead Labour MP Teresa Pearce has been instrumental in pushing this through. Landlords can be fined and compensation awarded to tenants.

The law not only requires standards to be maintained in the property but extends to the maintenance of common areas or retained parts. That is crucial as many buy to lets are in a dire state externally. What were once loved family homes are crumbling.

It also applies to social as well as private tenants. This may be a wake up call to Greenwich Council given some extremely poor conditions on estates despite new builds sprouting up around them bringing much income.

On the flipside, tenants should really maintain homes and gardens to a minimum standard – though of course costly work is unlikely to be carried out by private tenants who could be evicted using Section 21 notices at any time.

Landlords who maintain homes should have nothing to fear whilst the cowboys will be liable to fines.

In addition, local authorities have had extra powers in recent years to levy fines up to £30,000 and also claim back costs by placing a charge on the property as well as taking over rental income.

Those worried of revenge evictions can contact their local authority who can delay the process if they issue notices to landlords. The Government’s advice states:

If your council decides that they are going to take enforcement action against your landlord to make them carry out repairs or works, it can be harder for your landlord to evict you.

You do not have to wait for your local council to take action. If you think there is a serious health and safety problem at your rented house or flat, you can tell your council at the same time as taking your landlord to court yourself.

If you’re worried about being evicted, you should contact Citizens Advice, Shelter, your local council or a tenants’ rights group.

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. Charles Calthrop

    Most welcome. One of my younger colleagues spent months trying to get the landlord to put in secondary glazing (she had rented out the flat during summer and had no idea how truly cold the apartment was in winter). In the end it took a GP letter testifying the effect it was having on her infant children and the council to intervene. The landlord tried to get away with a sheet of perspex before being forced to upgrade. The eviction notice came not long after.

  2. Graham

    Charles, that is typical of some private landlords who do not regularly maintain their properties, Dare to complain to them and they evict you at the earliest opportunity. Pleased this also applies to social housing (Council and Housing Association Homes).

    They have many homes which are older but not on the larger housing estates of blocks of flats that require maintenance and upgrading (Some external refurbishment work) which tenants are not allowed to do themselves.

  3. anonymous201486

    Section 21 should be barred as a means of ‘revenge evictions’, but don’t hold out any hope that this government is going to interfere in ‘the operation of the market’.

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