When a tenant has a landlord who refuses to make repairs to the property, the local council should be their next port of call. Unfortunately, local council environmental health teams are woefully under-resourced and many cases of unsafe housing slip through the net - there are an estimated 16% physically unsafe privately rented homes.
Where the council doesn't take action, it is technically possible for the tenant to take their landlord to court - but only if their rent is below £80 - a year. There is a requirement for landlords to ensure that homes are fit for human habitation but it's limited to rent levels last set in 1957.
Karen Buck MP is setting out today to change that.Read more
Just when you thought you'd heard all the horror stories that the housing crisis had to offer, Barking & Dagenham Council raises the stakes. In raids yesterday morning with police, council officers found 55 people living in three houses, including 11 children.
Two of the homes had three bedrooms, but residents were crammed into every space possible, including a loft and a shed at the third property.Read more
Today the government announced a raft of measures that will be in the Housing Bill that being is being prepared for Parliament later this year.
Sadly much of the focus was on the extension of the duty to all landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants. We’ve already expressed our opposition to this policy elsewhere, but it is particularly galling that this is being taken forward when there has been no public analysis of the West Midlands ‘pilot scheme’, and other groups have seen cases of it increasing discrimination in lettings.
Despite this policy dominating the headlines, though, the Department for Communities and Local Government has also announced more welcome plans to improve the systems for tackling rogue landlords.Read more
Environmental Health News (EHN) has done us all a huge service by publishing a list of landlords with convictions for housing offences.
For the first time we know the 2,006 companies and individuals who have been successfully prosecuted, but this figure is dwarfed by the 740,000 private rented households estimated to have hazards dangerous to human health. And the landlords in question get away with fines that hardly make a dent on the income they get from rents.
This has to stop.Read more
Parliament has announced the 20 Private Member's Bills that are being introduced today, and they include three on housing.
Karen Buck, MP for Westminster North, has introduced the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill, which will amend a law from the 1980s to ensure that rented properties meet certain standards. We think this is a huge opportunity to give tenants the protection they need from unscrupulous landlords and agents - and finally bring renting into the 21st century. Karen is a longtime campaigner on housing so we'll work hard to support her as she takes the Bill through Parliament.Read more
I am, among many things, a member of generation rent. With my A levels burning a hole in my back pocket I took the logical step out of my family home on the outskirts of Liverpool and took up residence at university. I moved into a three-storey halls of residence, which was heated by a gas oil burner that made all of my belongings smell of paraffin. "All your clothes stink", my mum would say whenever I came home, "even your laptop smells". I took no notice; all I could smell was freedom.Read more
It was announced this week that the Government was protecting tenants by improving fire safety regulations in the private rented sector. However, at the same time they are making it more difficult for councils to introduce borough-wide landlord licensing that help to protect tenants from rogue landlordsRead more
A new national database, naming private landlords who have been convicted of safety breaches has been created by our friends over at Environmental Health News, the magazine of the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health’s magazine. This follows a ruling by the information commissioner that the Ministry of Justice must release its list of property firm convicted under the Housing Act 2004 – initially the MOJ refused.Read more
More than 50 private renters demonstrated last night against the spate of revenge evictions that are taking place against tenants with the temerity to request safe and healthy living conditions.
Armed with placards, demonstrators descended on Westminster to push MPs to ban eviction of tenants when the House of Commons debates Sarah Teather's Tenancies (Reform) Bill on Friday.
GMB Young London organised the demo, which brought together Renters Rights London, PricedOut, Hackney Digs, Brent Advice for Renters and Generation Rent. MPs Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell took time out from the chamber to give us their support.
Next week in the House of Lords, Peers will debate an amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill that would ensure people have a choice in how they receive their utility bills and bank statements - enabling people to choose paper bills if that's best for them. The amendment, tabled by Conservative Baroness Oppenheim-Barnes, aims to place a duty on suppliers of utilities, including electricity, gas, water, telephone and internet connections.Read more