Student landlords who provide poor living conditions must raise standards or face legal action, according to the universities minister.
Chris Skidmore is hitting out at landlords who are ‘exploiting vulnerable students’ by failing to provide ‘basic standards of living’, saying ‘time is up’ for landlords who are making a profit from shoddy accommodation, reports The Independent.
“I have heard appalling stories of students living in terrible conditions, which can affect their studies and even their mental health,” says Mr Skidmore.
“While there are many landlords who do take their responsibilities seriously, for too long rogue private landlords have been exploiting vulnerable students by failing to provide even basic standards of living.”
New regulations now empower students and other renters to take their landlords to court if they fail to address serious home defects.
The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, which came into force last Wednesday (March 20th) aims to improve rental home standards in the social and private sectors, and allows tenants to hold their landlords to account if their properties pose health and safety risks.
Under the new law, tenants can take action if there are issues with, repair, stability, damp, internal arrangement, natural lighting, ventilation, water supply, drainage and sanitary conveniences, facilities for preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water or hazards under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.
According to housing organisation Shelter, there are currently almost one million rented homes with hazards that pose a serious risk to health and safety in the UK, affecting roughly 2.5 million people, who will all benefit from the landmark change to the law.
A survey by the National Union of Students (NUS) found 40% of privately renting UK students had damp and mould on their walls, 20% had issues with vermin or insect infestations,16% reported electrical safety hazards and 9% had gas safety hazards, with over a third of students (36%) saying poor living conditions made them feel anxious or depressed.
Minister for housing Heather Wheeler said the government had been working tirelessly to make sure all tenants have access to a fairer to the private rental market across the country.
Steps taken include reducing unnecessary costs through the Tenant Fees Act, extending houses in multiple occupation (HMO) regulations to protect more tenants and providing councils funding to tackle rogue landlords.
“Now, these changes are set to have a real impact,” Ms Wheeler added. “Students must use these powers to crack down on poor quality accommodation and opportunistic landlords profiting from tenants’ misery.”