Secretary of State for Housing Sajid Javid confirmed that the government will support new legislation to ensure rental properties are safe for tenants.
The legislation, which will also allow tenants to take legal action when faced with rogue landlords, will be enforced by local authorities. They will be given the power to deal with both social and private sector landlords who rent out unsafe or substandard accommodation. I find the term “Rogue Landlord” very interesting, who will define what exactly a Rogue Landlord, is it someone who rents out a one bedroom flat to 30 people, or is it someone who doesn’t answer his phone after eight at night? You might think the answer is obvious, but how can it be? The term “Rogue” covers such a wide spectrum, for example, is a Rogue “a dishonest or unprincipled man?” or is a Rogue “a person whose behaviour one disapproves of but who is nonetheless likeable or attractive“? Both of these are defined in the Dictionary as being Rogues!..
Ok, maybe we’re not so dumb and we can work out what a Rogue Landlord is, but do you get my point? Unless this is thought through, the courts are going to be throwing cases out because someone objects to how they based their assessment of the word Rogue!. And it’s the same for the assessment of what is “fit for human habitation”, who or what exactly is going decide what the bench mark of human habitation? I’ve seen plenty of Students turn a perfectly liveable and habitable property into something you wouldn’t put a rat in, so who’s going to get sued in cases like that? What if the Landlord decides that their tenants have made the property unfit for human habitation, are Landlords allowed to sue their tenants under the same act ?
The new bill ensures that landlords confirm that their property is fit for human habitation at the beginning of each tenancy and throughout the tenancy. Should a landlord fail to do this, the tenant has the right to take legal action in the courts for breach of contract. This will be on the grounds that the home is unsafe for habitation.
I read where the RLA are supporting this legislation, mainly because it brings Local Authorities and Housing Associations into the fold and we agree with that point. But what the RLA failed to do in their press release was to push for supporting good Landlords by asking for equal legislation for Landlords to have a dedicated Housing Court where Landlords can quickly and effectively enforce the terms of a tenancy agreement rather than having to wait months and spending hundreds of pounds in the process.
It’s just one more attack in a long line of recent attacks against Landlords. There are many pieces of legislation already in place to force landlords to maintain their property and to be punished if they don’t and The HHSRS provides the councils with adequate powers to deal with and enforce virtually all aspects.
The old chestnut of tenants causing damage by drying washing indoors causing condensation in one of the biggest problems faced by Landlords on a daily basis but who is taking the side of Landlords to enforce tenants and their behaviour. If legislation is going to be introduced against Landlords, Landlords should no longer accept damage done by Tenants and should take this attack by MP’s as the turning point to sue tenants for causing damage to the landlords property and the cost of remedial works where they do not occupy the property in a good tenant like manner.
Landlords will need to wise up and start suing tenants where at present, they tend to let tenants get away with much more than they should and we can see that the upping the stakes will be inevitable as landlords are victimized by bully legislation.