A new para-legal industry to help tenants chase down errant landlords is gathering pace ahead of the act’s full introduction next month when all tenancies will be covered.

Thousands of tenants around the country could be poised to take on errant landlords with no-win no-fee claims for compensation, when the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 kicks in fully next month.

From March, all tenants will be covered by the act which makes landlords legally obliged to ensure their properties are safe, healthy and free from hazards – that’s anything posing a serious threat to the health of the occupants, including damp, a lack of natural lighting, or poor ventilation.

Solicitors such as CEL in Liverpool are already fielding an increase in calls. Says director Mark Montaldo: “With such a major shake-up in the law, we would’ve expected to see a reduction in claims, but it has been the complete opposite, pointing to a severe lack of awareness and understanding.

“The act gives tenants a voice and chance to hold their landlords to account if they are living in, and paying for, sub-standard accommodation.”

The Residential Landlords Association has been calling for tougher enforcement against criminal landlords and is backing the new law as it seeks to do just that.

Says policy manager John Stewart, says: “It makes it easier for tenants to take action against bad landlords. This should be welcome news to most landlords who do the right thing and have nothing to fear.” Tenants will be able to apply directly to the court for an injunction to compel a landlord to carry out maintenance and repair work, or for compensation for the landlord’s failure to keep the property safe to live in.

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