‘Fitness for Human Habitation’ bill reaches committee of the whole house

  • The Human Habitation Bill passed the second reading stage, 2 years since its conception
  • The bill, long campaigned by Karen Buck MP, aims to make it unlawful to let substandard property 
  • It saw cross-party support and admiration in Karen Buck's political campaign work towards it

The ‘Fitness for Human Habitation Bill’ had its second reading on the 23rd November, which was committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

The bill, hoping to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, wants to make it unlawful to let substandard property; making privately rented homes ‘fit for human habitation’ from the start of the tenancy and to be maintained throughout.

There was unanimous support from both sides of the political spectrum, for both the bill and its author Karen Buck MP, who Lord Best described as “indefatigable” in her campaigning and a “heroine”.

“I am delighted that the Bill has cross-party support and, crucially, very strong support from the Government”, said Lord Shipley; “That is a rare event in Parliament and a clear demonstration that this is a problem that needs a solution”.

The Grenfell Tower disaster was addressed in the reading, stating the lack of legislation was a contributing factor toward the tower block fire that killed 71 people, injuring many more.

“The residents of Grenfell Tower raised their concerns about the safety of the building on many occasions, but their voices were not heard” said Lord Best.

Quotes from Karen Buck’s constituents were heard, highlighting the dire situations some people live in due to this lack of legislation.

One family’s mother wrote that her son had been:

“in a coma at St. Mary’s Hospital due to a virus caused by excessive cold. The mould and damp in the house”

Another tenant complains:

“the cold aches my bones and muscles. The damp and mould affects my asthma. As a Type 1 diabetic and asthmatic I am constantly ill living in this flat. I guess the way they are progressing, it will be done the day I am removed from this flat in a coffin”

The living conditions of students were even highlighted: “Even in the student sector, one hears tales of overcrowding and below-standard accommodation” The Lord Bishop of Rochester said, adding: “you deliver your student children to those properties you find in despicable states of repair”.

Passing through the Second Reading stage means there is only one more stage – Committee, in which the bill is scrutinised line-by-line – before the bill becomes law.

Karen Buck tweeted her enthusiasm that her bill has reached this stage.

The date of when the bill with face the Committee of the Whole House is yet to be scheduled.