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Labour Will Attempt To Extend Rules Forcing Landlords To Deal With Mould To Private Sector

(Alamy)

3 min read

Labour are set to attempt to extend rules that force landlords in social housing to deal with mould issues within a certain timeframe to the private rented sector.

Labour have proposed a new clause to the Renters' Reform Bill that would extend Awaab's Law "to the private rented sector" if it makes its way into the legislation. Awaab’s Law was introduced to the statute books earlier this year with the Social Housing (Regulation Act). 

It was named after Awaab Ishak, a two-year-old boy who died in December 2020 after being exposed to mould in his home in Rochdale. 

The law now requires social housing providers to take action on damp and mould within set time limits. 

Shadow housing minister Matthew Pennycook has now said that "there is no justification whatsoever for restricting ‘Awaab’s law’ purely to social housing".

The Renter's Reform bill will be discussed at its committee stage in the House of Commons this week, having received its second reading in October. According to the amendment paper, Labour's “new clause would require private landlords to deal with hazards affecting their properties”. PoliticsHome understands it is expected to be raised on Tuesday afternoon.  

Pennycook told PoliticsHome: “The government were right to introduce Awaab’s Law in the social housing sector, but the problem of debilitating damp and mould and landlords who fail to investigate such hazards and make necessary repairs is not confined to social rented homes.

“The private rented sector has widespread problems with damp, mould and cold, driven by the poor energy efficiency of privately rented homes." 

He added: “In the face of such a pervasive problem, there is no justification whatsoever for restricting ‘Awaab’s law’ purely to social housing."

Labour have also laid proposed new clauses that if accepted could restrict competitive bidding for rents. 

The two clauses, if they end up in the bill, would require landlords to state the proposed rent in adverts for their properties, and block landlords from encouraging bids above the amount stated in advertisements.  

The committee stage is where MPs get the opportunity to look at a Bill in more detail, and bill committee members get the chance to vote on amendments that are selected by the chair of the committee. 

Among the other measures introduced by the government in the Renters Reform Bill is a controversial plan to remove section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, which would prevent landlords from evicting tenants for no reason. 

This part of the legislation is facing resistance from certain Conservative MPs, but levelling up secretary Michael Gove has defended the plans, and told the Commons that removing it would mean "unscrupulous landlords" can no longer "use it" as a weapon.  

Introducing the Bill to the Commons for its second reading last month, Gove told MPs that a “healthy private rented sector is in all our interests.” 

“Making sure that both landlords and tenants have a new deal and a fair deal is critical,” he added. 

“Given the number of people in the private rented sector, it is absolutely vital that we ensure that tenants have the rights they deserve, while also recognising the importance of the private rental sector to our economy and the fact that the overwhelming number of private landlords provide an excellent service.” 

The Labour Party have contacted for comment. 

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