Tories vote down law requiring landlords make their homes fit for human habitation

72 of the MPs who voted against the measure are registered as landlords themselves

Conservative MPs have voted to reject a proposed rule that would have required private landlords to make their homes “fit for human habitation”.

The vote, which came on Tuesday night, was on proposed amendment to the Government’s new Housing and Planning Bill – a raft of new laws aimed at reforming housing law.

The Labour-proposed amendment was rejected by 312 votes to 219, however.

According to Parliament’s register of interests, 72 of the MPs who voted against the amendment are themselves landlords who derive an income from a property.

Communities minister Marcus Jones said the Government believed homes should be fit for human habitation but did not want to pass the new law that would explicitly require it.

“Of course we believe that all homes should be of a decent standard and all tenants should have a safe place to live regardless of tenure, but local authorities already have strong and effective powers to deal with poor quality and safe accommodation and we expect them to use them,” he said in a reply.

Teresa Pearce, the shadow housing minister who proposed the amendment, said renters lacked “basic consumer protection” when things went wrong.

“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,” she said. 

“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.

“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.”

But the Government claimed the new law would result in “unnecessary regulation”. 

The proposed amendment reflects the contents of a private members bill blocked by Conservative MPs in October last year.

That bill, proposed by Labour MP Karen Buck, was “talked out” by backbenchers, including Conservative MP Philip Davies, who is himself a landlord.

During that debate he warned that landlords “appear to be an easy target for the Left in this country”. 

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill would have updated a law introduced in the 19th century that requires homes under a certain rent limit to be “fit for human habitation”.

That rent limit has not been updated since 1957, however, and the rule currently applies to all properties with an annual rent of below £80 in London and £52 elsewhere. 

The weekly average weekly rent in London is currently £362 and practically zero properties currently fall under the legislation.

The Government’s housing bill includes provisions for starter homes, the right to buy for housing association tenants, higher rents for higher income social tenants, and some changes to speed up the planning system.

 

According to Parliament’s register of interests, the 72 MPs who are registered as deriving income from property of over £10,000 a year  and who voted against the law are:

Nigel Adams

Stuart Andrew

Victoria Atkins

Jake Berry

James Berry

Bob Blackman

Robert Buckland

Alun Cairns

David Cameron

Alex Chalk

James Cleverley

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Therese Coffey

Geoffrey Cox

Mims Davies

Philip Davies

Richard Drax

James Duddridge

Alan Duncan

Philip Dunne

Jane Ellison

George Eustice

Mike Freer

Richard Fuller

John Glen

Robert Goodwill

Chris Grayling

Dominic Grieve

Chris Heaton-Harris

Peter Heaton-Jones

George Hollingberry

Kevin Hollinrake

Philip Hollobone

Nick Hurd

Stewart Jackson

Margot James

Sajid Javid

Joseph Johnson

Simon Kirby (teller)

Greg Knight

Brandon Lewis

Julian Lewis

Craig Mackinlay

Tania Mathias

Karl McCartney

Anne Marie Morris

Sheryll Murray

Robert Neill

Sarah Newton (teller)

Jesse Norman

David Nuttall

Neil Parish

Owen Paterson

Rebecca Pow

Jeremy Quin

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Laurence Robertson

Julian Smith

Royston Smith

Mark Spencer

John Stevenson

Desmond Swayne

Derek Thomas

Anne-Marie Trevelyan

Andrew Turner

Shailesh Vara

Theresa Villiers

Ben Wallace

David Warburton

Craig Whittaker

John Whittingdale

Nadhim Zahawi

One MP's name was removed from this list after publication as his rental income is derived from a share in a medical practice rather than a residential property

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