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Private Members’ Bills on housing dominate the Commons

Friday 26 October 2018

MPs were in the Commons on a rare Friday to debate Private Members’ Bills, including the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill endorsed by Labour MP, Karen Buck.

Karen Buck’s Bill received cross-party support and government backing during its Third Reading on 26 October. It will now be moved to the House of Lords for further scrutiny, debate and consideration of amendments.

The Bill is supported by ARLA Propertymark, as we believe that it will serve to better protect renters against those who bring the sector into disrepute, and it seeks to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

If it becomes law, it will ensure:

  • that all landlords (both social and private sector) are required to ensure their property is fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout the duration of the tenancy
  • that if this is not done, the tenant will have the right to take legal action in the courts for breach of contract on the grounds that the property is unfit for human habitation.

The Bill now also has what is being referred to as a 'Grenfell' clause which extends provision of the Bill to cover common areas of a building.

Following the approval of the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill in the Commons, Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP said:

“Everyone has a right to feel safe and secure in their own home.

These reviews will allow us to revisit the current systems for health and safety ratings and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure that both are fit for purpose and meeting the needs of tenants.

By looking again at these rules, we can make sure that they are working as they should to keep people safe and give them peace of mind in their homes.”

The MHCLG has also released guidance on a review into Carbon Monoxide alarm requirements.

The Private Landlords (Registration) Bill was also set for Second Reading, endorsed by Labour MP, Phil Wilson and backed by the Shadow Housing Secretary, John Healey. This Bill would require all landlords in England to hold a mandatory licence.

Also up for debate was the Second Reading of the Creditworthiness Assessment Bill, which started in the House of Lords. If passed, this Bill would allow renters to attain creditworthiness through payment history of Council Tax and rent.

What is a Private Member’s Bill?

A Private Member’s Bill is a Public Bill that can be introduced in either the House of Commons or the House of Lords, providing that the MP or Lord endorsing the Bill isn’t a government minister. The purpose of them is to change the law, but generally a Private Member’s Bill rarely progresses beyond a Second Reading as they are allocated less parliamentary time. However, Private Members’ Bills are known to create a lot of publicity around an issue, and sometimes can impact legislation indirectly.