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Housing Law

The Grenfell Tower fire has shone a spotlight on issues of housing safety. Does the law currently strike the right balance between the rights of tenants and landlords?

A judge led inquiry has been set up to establish the facts of the devastating Grenfell Tower fire. The tragedy has shone a spotlight on issues of housing safety. Clive Anderson and guests discuss topical housing law issues. Does the law sufficiently protect the tenure, safety and other legal rights of tenants in both the private and public sectors?

There is consensus in the legal community that housing law is under-resourced, unnecessarily complex and, in many ways, outdated. But what rights should tenants have?

Barrister Liz Davies says a lack of legal aid is preventing tenants from bringing unsafe and unsatisfactory housing to court. Current legislation means a legal claim only arises where the rented property is in "disrepair". A tenant has legal recourse if their boiler is broken, but none if the heating is functioning but inadequate.

The programme discusses concerns that current protections are unevenly applied. Private landlords can be inspected and works required by environmental health officer. But these officers cannot compel their own local authorities to act.

In 2012, the Welsh Assembly announced it would bring into legislation Law Commission recommendations that will dramatically simplify the rental market. Solicitor David Smith, who was involved in drafting the legislation, says the hugely complicated process will take another couple of years. Should England follow suit?

Part-time judge Caroline Hunter is supportive of a greater role for specialist tribunals to increase efficiency and access to justice. Barrister Matt Hutchings QC argues for additional social housing saying that, without more homes, additional laws will only add further complexity.

Producer: Matt Willis
A 7digital production for BBC Radio 4.

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43 minutes

Last on

Sat 16 Sep 2017 22:15

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