Tory ministers have U-turned over a bill to give three million people a chance to live in a decent home.
The Government has decided to take action after the Sunday Mirror and Labour teamed up last week to expose the plight of millions in unsafe homes.
Despite twice voting against a law to give tenants the legal right to challenge landlords, they have finally caved in.
Secretary of State for Housing Sajid Javid said: “Government will support new legislation that requires all landlords to ensure properties are safe and give tenants the right to take legal action if landlords fail in their duties.”
‘There is mould and damp everywhere but no-one wants to know’
Louisa Martin, 27, has been waiting for help for eight months at her cold, damp, mouldy one-bed flat where she has lived for three years.
She said: “The black mould in the bedroom is so bad we have to sleep in the living room. There are holes in the kitchen ceiling after a leak.
“And we don’t have any heating in the flat.
“There is mould and damp everywhere and air bubbles in the walls.”
Louisa says she has had problems on and off since moving in to the home in Orpington, Kent. And nothing has been done in the eight months.
She added: “It’s not good for my health and it’s been making me feel down and depressed.
“I’ve got furniture in the bedroom that has been ruined. And we’ve had to throw clothes out because they’ve got in such a mess.”
Louisa’s dad Gary got in touch after the Sunday Mirror launched our campaign.
He said: “I have been trying to get help with the state of her flat but no one wants to know.”
Clarion Housing Group said it was unable to comment without the tenant’s permission.
His pledge is a testament to Labour’s Karen Buck who has been fighting for tenants for years and tried to get the measures passed in 2015 and 2016.
She said: “I’m genuinely delighted that the Government have agreed to back this important measure to protect tenants.
“We know there are close to three million people in substandard housing. And this will let them hold their landlord to account.”
Last week, the Sunday Mirror pledged to back the bill, which Mrs Buck will present before Parliament on Friday.
We revealed a million homes – 750,000 private and 250,000 in social housing – have a “Category 1 Hazard”.
This includes cold, damp and fire risk.
In 2015 the bill was “talked out” meaning Parliament had no time to vote on it. The next year, 309 Tories voted against the measures.
Labour will keep up the pressure to force this change – John Healey MP
After years of blocking Labour’s plans to give renters living in dangerous homes proper legal protections, Tory Ministers have finally been forced to back down.
So the Government support for Karen Buck’s backbench bill is welcome.]
It’s more proof that Labour is winning the arguments and making Ministers change government policy.
When Sajid Javid and other Tories voted down this Labour proposal in Parliament two years ago they described it as ‘unnecessary regulation’ which ‘will deter investment and put up rents’.
But the writing was on the wall even before the tragedy at Grenfell Tower after private landlord bodies backed Labour’s plan, exposing the Tory opposition as evidence-free, ideological nonsense.
So now they’ve admitted private renters need such basic consumer rights, the Government should rethink its hard-line refusal to help renters in other areas too.
They should starting by backing Labour’s plans for longer tenancies and controls on rents, so that private renters don’t find ever-rising rents dash any hope of saving for a deposit on a first home.
And after the Tories have cut to the bone investment in new housing association and council housebuilding, and axed Labour’s Decent Homes programme to make all homes meet good modern standards, Ministers must finally treat social housing tenants with the respect they deserve.
After eight years of Tory housing failure, all those struggling with the high cost or poor state of their homes will hope this climb-down is the first step in a much bigger change in government policy.
And Labour will keep up the pressure to force this change.
John Healey MP is Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister