The government has welcomed a new law that aims to boost standards in rented homes and give tenants more powers to hold their landlord to account.
It has received Royal Assent and was welcomed by housing and homelessness minister, Heather Wheeler MP.
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.
Wheeler said: “Everyone deserves a safe and decent place to live, regardless of whether you own your home or rent it.
“That’s why 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. 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.
“We are also banning unfair letting fees and capping tenancy deposits, saving renters around £240 million a year.
“The Tenant Fees Bill, currently making its way through Parliament, will bring an end to unnecessary, costly fees imposed by landlords or property agents. This will stop tenants being charged unnecessarily and put hard-earned cash back in their pockets.”
The government is also launching of a national database of rogue landlords and agents to keep track of those that are renting out unsafe and substandard accommodation and is reviewing the rating system used by local authorities to assess the presence of serious risks to the health and safety of occupants.
It is introducing mandatory client money protection – by which rental money held by letting agents is safeguarded against theft and fraud – for all agents.
Other measure include a requirement for all landlords to belong to a mandatory redress scheme and mandatory five yearly electrical installation safety inspections
Wheeler added: “This is all part of ongoing government activity to make the private rented sector fairer and more transparent – making a housing market that works for everyone.”