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The new tenant legislation ‘needs to go much further’, says leading agent

A leading letting agent has warned that new measures to protect tenants do not go far enough.

The government announced earlier this week that it would be supporting legislation to give tenants the right to take legal action against landlords who rent out unsafe or substandard accommodation.

The proposed bill will ensure that “all landlords (both social and private sector) must ensure that their property is fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout”.

Where a landlord fails to do so, the tenant has the right to take legal action in the courts for breach of contract, on the grounds that the property is unfit for human habitation.

But Paul Sloan, operations director at haart, is keen to stress that landlords could always be sued if their accommodation did not meet certain standards even though previously the power had been more geared towards the local authorities.

He explained: “This legislation is not new - tenants have always been able to take legal action against landlords, but this particular bill – which was originally brought forward two years ago - gives more rights to the tenants themselves. It failed to get enough votes in 2015, but was brought forward again in the summer in the wake of the Grenfell tower disaster, and has now got the government backing it needs.”

In the main, Sloan has described the new measures to improve the safety of tenants as “a positive move”, but he is urging the government to go further.

He added: “The aim of this bill is to raise standards and push the bad boys out of the market, but, it is just another bit of legislation and I think there is a danger that the bad boys will be driven underground rather than out.

“If the government is going to regulate, it needs to regulate the industry as a whole – that’s the only way to raise standards across the board, not this piecemeal approach which seems designed more to win votes than to actually change the way that the rental market operates.”

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