New standards now in place for rented homes in the UK
A landmark law that will help to boost standards in rented homes in the UK and give tenants more powers to hold their landlord to account is now in place.
Under the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act, landlords of both social and privately rented properties must make sure that their properties meet certain standards at the beginning and throughout a tenancy.
If they fail to do this, tenants have the right to take legal action under the Private Members’ Bill which has received Royal Assent.
Housing Minister Heather Wheeler described it as a ‘landmark’ and said it will support ongoing government action to protect tenants and drive up standards in rented properties.
‘Everyone deserves a safe and decent place to live, regardless of whether you own your home or rent it. That’s why the Government has introduced a range of measures to help ensure that people who are renting have good quality and well-maintained properties to call home,’ she said.
‘This new law is a further step to ensure that tenants have the decent homes they deserve.
The government has introduced a range of powers for local authorities to enable them to crack down on the small minority of rogue landlords and agents who let unfit properties. This includes fixed financial penalties of up to £30,000 and banning orders, possibly for life, for the most serious offenders,’ she explained.
She also pointed out that the Government has extended mandatory licensing for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) to improve living conditions of tenants in shared homes and tightened up rules on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Private rented sector tenants can also apply for a refund of up to twelve months’ rent if their landlord does not deal with health and safety hazards in their home.
Alongside all of this the Tenant Fees Bill, which will ban unfair letting fees and cap tenancy deposits, saving renters around £240 million a year, is currently making its way through Parliament.
Wheeler said that the bill will bring an end to unnecessary, costly fees imposed by landlords or property agents and this will stop tenants being charged unnecessarily.
Other Government steps to reform and improve renting include the launch of a national database of rogue landlords and agents to keep track of those that are renting out unsafe and substandard accommodation.
There will also be a review of the rating system used by local authorities to assess the presence of serious risks to the health and safety of occupants and the introduction of mandatory client money protection by which rental money held by letting agents is safeguarded against theft and fraud for all agents.
Also coming up is a requirement for all landlords to belong to a mandatory redress scheme and new, mandatory five yearly electrical installation safety inspections.