New Responsibilities for Landlords

Private landlords face new responsibilities toward their tenants, including being forced to refund rent if the property is not maintained in an acceptably liveable condition. Almost a million privately rented properties do not meet the government’s minimum standards for human habitation, with the main problems being damp and cold.

As announced in the Queen’s Speech, the Renters’ Reform Bill will extend social housing standards to private rentals, and a Private Renters’ Ombudsman will be appointed to adjudicate disputes between landlords and tenants over the acceptable standard of a rented property. Charities have welcomed the government’s move, with the chief executive of housing charity Shelter stating, ‘The Renters’ Reform Bill is a game-changer. The Bill cannot come soon enough.’

While this appears to be welcome news for tenants, many landlords are incensed by the latest regulatory burdens they face. The fear is that with tenants gaining new legal rights, landlords will rather sell their properties than rent them, leading to a shortfall of rental property and increased rents. Tenants themselves may reduce a property to an ‘uninhabitable’ state, refuse to pay rent, and receive legal aid to fight a claim against their landlord who, in most circumstances, would have to fund their defence privately.

There is no doubt that millions of tenants live in dilapidated properties across the UK, and that landlords are often reluctant to address maintenance issues promptly or at all. It should therefore be welcomed that tenants have enhanced rights to take action against so-called ‘slum’ landlords, an issue that has plagued the UK since Victorian times and before. However, tenants also have a responsibility not to take advantage of their new legal rights to drive landlords into selling their properties, thereby creating a lose-lose situation for both parties.

We represent tenants who have been injured or made ill at home due to poor living conditions. Find out more:

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