Government proposal to give extra rights to tenants to sue landlords if accommodation is not fit for human habitation

United Kingdom

The Government is considering introducing legislation to give tenants the right to sue their landlord if their home is not fit for human habitation.

A new bill is being drafted with the support of the Housing Secretary, Sajid Javid, entitled: The Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards Bill.

Councils already have powers to take action against landlords who rent out unsafe accommodation to private sector or housing authority tenants under the Housing Health & Safety Rating System and Housing Act 2004. However, the rates of inspection notices and enforcement by councils varies hugely, and council tenants cannot enforce against their council landlords. This legislation would fill in the gaps in the existing rights of tenants.

For any tenancy granted for less than 7 years term (including all periodic tenancies), the bill will add an implied term that:

(a) the dwelling is fit for human habitation at the time of the grant;
and,

(b) the lessor will keep it fit for human habitation.

If the property is a flat, the obligation extends to all parts of the building in which the
landlord has an interest, e.g. common parts and the outside of a block of flats. It would allow tenants to require landlords to put defects right or seek compensation if they failed to do so.