Conservative MPs have defeated a Labour amendment to the government’s housing and planning bill to require landlords to ensure their properties “are fit for human habitation”.
The amendment to the bill was defeated by 312 votes to 219 on Tuesday, a majority of 93.
Shadow housing minister Teresa Pearce proposed the amendment. She said: “The majority of landlords let property which is and remains in a decent standard. Many landlords go out of their way to ensure that even the slightest safety hazard is sorted quickly and efficiently.
“So it is even more distressing when we see reports of homes which are frankly unfit for human habitation being let, often at obscene prices.”
Pearce said that the condition of some rented accommodation – such as mouldy walls – would not be tolerated in other sectors.
“Where else in modern day life could someone get away with this? It’s a consumer issue. If I purchased a mobile phone or a computer that didn’t work, didn’t do what it said it would or was unsafe I would take it back and get a refund,” she said.
Pearce said that in market where demand outstrips supply, renters lacked the consumer power to bargain for better conditions.
The result of the vote prompted outrage from tenants’ campaign groups on Twitter.
Hackney Renters (@hackney_renters) Tweeted: “Jaw dropping: Even though 16% of rented homes unsafe Tories believe landlord propaganda about basic standards 'pushing up rent'” and said the vote was “Further evidence for just how much the current government is in cahoots with the private landlords”