A letting agent who campaigns against rogue landlords says the government has “no idea” how many convictions there have been regarding rental properties allegedly unfit for human habitation.
Freedom of Information enquiries from Ajay Jagota reveal that the Ministry of Justice has not recorded the number of landlords convicted under the Homes (Fitness for Habitation) Act 2018.
He says that the ministry says it “holds all the information you request” but the data is not classified to state the specific legislation that landlords have been prosecuted under.
In any case, Jagota has been told that because specific answers to his questions would take more than 3.5 days to collate, the cost of answering his question “would exceed the appropriate limit”.
The Homes (Fitness for Habitation) Act 2018 came into force in 2019 and requires landlords to ensure their properties are fit for human habitation.
Jagota, who runs the KIS lettings agency and is the founder of online claims management firm Veriwise, says: “It’s startling how many renters don’t know that there is a law which can force their landlord to repair their homes and even pay them compensation – it’s downright alarming that the government doesn’t seem to know either.
“I have literally no idea why you would bring in a new law and then make no effort to see how many times it is actually being used, and the inconsistent nature of the government’s response leads me to speculate that they know a good deal more than they are letting on and are simply embarrassed about the ineffectiveness of this legislation.
“It’s understandable that tenants would not have the legal knowledge or confidence to fight for their rights in the courts – it’s why Veriwise was created – but it’s deeply troubling that the government seems no to know either.
“Up and down the country, there are tenants wondering why their landlord isn’t fixing things, or putting up with damp and condensation, dangerous or broken appliances and even pest infestations – and with the right support it doesn’t have to be like that.”
Under the Act - which applied to all new tenancies created after 20 March 2019 including replacement tenancies, and then applied to all periodic tenancies in existence after 20 March 2020 - a property could be deemed unfit for habitation if there are ‘serious’ problems with a wide range of factors.
This includes repairs; stability; damp; internal arrangement; natural lighting; ventilation; water supply; drainage and toilets; and cooking facilities that result in the property being unfit for human habitation.
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