Ahead of it's second reading in parliament next week, MP for Westminster North, Karen Buck, explains why the bill is so desperately needed.

Currently around 1 million properties are unfit for human habitation- meaning some 3 million people, including many children, live in rented properties that present a serious risk to their health and safety.

 

Yet at the moment landlords have no obligation to their tenants to put or keep the property in a condition fit for habitation. Some problems are covered if they are caused by disrepair, but that does not include things like fire safety, or inadequate heating, or poor ventilation causing condensation and mould growth.

 

Private tenants could go to their local authority and ask for action to be taken.


But what we know is that local authorities – now increasingly cash-strapped - are only doing this in a minority of cases. Some councils don’t. It is a complete postcode lottery. Council tenants don’t even have this channel open to them.

MPs see people all the time who are living in substandard homes.


The design of the property, or the lack of proper facilities such as heating, means some people are living in unbelievably bad conditions. They are living with walls blackened by water, where the damp makes it hard to breathe. Homes where they fight a constant battle to stay healthy, to stop their clothes and furniture from being destroyed.

I have seen properties where the toilet, or the shower are just cabinets in the kitchen. Steep staircases without rails to stop people falling.

 

We don’t yet know exactly what caused the Grenfell fire to spread as it did - but we do know residents had raised fears about fire safety, yet they had no legal means of pursuing those concerns.

 

My Bill means that a tenant in unfit housing could take action themselves against the landlord to make them put right any hazards that make the property unfit, and seek compensation when the landlord hasn’t done so

 

It is beyond scandalous that in 2018, so very many people – including some of the most vulnerable and powerless - are living in properties that are unfit for human habitation.

Everyone should have the right to a safe and decent home.  This Bill is a step towards making that a reality.