On 20 December 2018, the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill became an Act by being given royal assent. The Act will come into force in March 2019. For the first time, all tenants, private and social, will be able to take action against their landlord if their home or the building if it contains a hazard that present as risk to their health or wellbeing.

The Act creates an obligation on the landlord to make sure that the property is fit for habitation at the start of the tenancy and is kept so throughout. If the landlord fails to do so, the tenant can bring a claim to make the landlord carry out works and for compensation. Tenants can take action against hazards like condensation mould, inadequate or no heating, and fire risks where the council won’t or can’t.

The Act was a private members bill, brought by Karen Buck MP. It is remarkable in being a very rare private members bill by an opposition MP that eventually received government support and became law. Giles Peaker of Anthony Gold and Justin Bates of 4-5 Grays Inn Square worked with Karen Buck from the conception of the Bill though all stages of its successful passage through Parliament. The Bill was first brought in 2015, when its progress was stopped by a conservative MP. Two attempts to add it to the Housing and Planning Act 2016 were voted down by the Government. After the Grenfell disaster, Karen brought the Bill back to parliament in 2017 where it received cross party support.

Giles said “I am very proud to have worked on this Act over the last 3 years and to help Karen in her great achievement in getting it into law. There are about 1 million homes private and social homes in England that contain a serious risk to the health and well being of the people living there. No-one should have to live in such conditions and the Act is an important step in enabling tenants to force their landlord to make their home safe. I very much look forward to putting the Act to use for tenants in 2019.