Lack of Justice in Housing – Fitness for Human Habitation ActMake Text Bigger
Letter to Gareth Johnson Member of Parliament for Dartford:
I refer to the recently enacted Fitness for Human Habitation Act. Raised in parliament by vociferous tenant campaigner, MP Karen Buck, the title of the bill as it initially was, ‘Fitness for Human Habitation’ was a strategic ‘check-mate.
How could anyone, MP from whatever party, or even Landlord Organisations object to a law, which read in reverse, prevents houses that are NOT fit for ‘human’ habitation to be permissible.
There was no such objection, and the reasonably short 5 page Act of parliament was drafted pro-bono by a legal-aid practising solicitor. The first 4 pages of legalise is pretty inconsequential until the last page actually qualifies what will come within the Acts provisions. A residence unfit for human habitation will actually be any defect that qualifies for the less serious HHSRS category 2 hazard.
An example could be condensation, or mildew, which are known as usually being due to occupant lifestyle (drying clothes on radiators, not ventilating after cooking or showering etc.)
The minority of bad tenants will find themselves subject to a lengthy and expensive court eviction process by the landlord. Tenant will then approach a legal aid solicitor who will commence a damages claim against the landlord. The damages claim, legal costs paid by the tax-payer, will take considerably longer that a possession claim and due to such connected legal action, the possession claim will be adjourned until the claim for damages trial takes place.
Faults or repairs required in the property will now be adjudicated upon by expensive court processes and a judge in place of the Local Authority who are experienced in HHSRS and who should be doing such. The process is going to be many times more expensive for the tax -payer, and landlord.
If a landlord is breaching Housing regulations, shouldn’t the already ample Civil Penalties under the Housing Act of up to £30k per breach (with the proceeds going to fund the L.A for their time and further enforcement work) be utilised? Instead, it seems yet a further piece of legislation is enacted that puts civil damages into the tenants pockets for what is a breach of Housing Regulations.
It would follow then that the HHSRS is redundant?
There is already Retaliatory eviction legislation and the Unfitness Act [sic] will create a ‘Retaliatory Defense’ for savvy tenants who ‘play the system’. Buck and the labour party have made no secret of their support for Legal Aid to be available for ALL tenant legal action. I wonder if she is so enthusiastic for her tenant constituents that she’d like to stand as a Guarantor for their tenancies and rent? No perhaps not. Neither will all the other tenant support groups. ‘Money where their mouth is’, comes to mind.
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