Jan 19th matters for all of us

January 19th Debate
January 19th Debate

On the 19th January there is a super important debate in Parliament. This debate is about whether or not homes should be fit for human habitation.

This is something that affects us all. However, I doubt the media will give it the appropriate attention, partly because the owners of the newspapers are very much against the bill being proposed.

The official name of the bill is the “Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards.”

The bill would demand that landlords ensure that the homes they rent out are fit for humans to live in, so that there are neither hygiene concerns like dampness nor safety concerns like a major fire hazard.

I once moved into a two-bedroom apartment, which I rented from an estate agent, and after a few days I noticed that there was a cockroach infestation. The reason the landlord was able to get away with renting out an apartment in such a state is that there is no law requiring him to guarantee that the house does not have a cockroach infestation.

However this bill, if passed, would require landlords to maintain the homes that they rent out to a certain minimum standard to avoid such problems.

Crucially, the Bill empowers tenants by giving them the right to take their landlord to court if they fail to take action to resolve an issue. Following the Grenfell Fire this is particularly important as the bill would force tower blocks similar to Grenfell to have sprinkler systsems.

Across Europe there is legislation in countries like Germany and Norway that demands homes be of this standard and as a result people don’t suffer the same housing problems when renting a place as people do in Britain.

I read some articles by people saying that this would be terrible as it would bring in “red-tape” and “regulations”, however, I think that is playing with words. A more appropriate term for the bill would be “protection”. This bill would protect the millions of people who have to rent from a landlord and remove much of the stress that comes with renting.

But also, landlords would benefit. Even though they would have to spend extra to keep the home in a good condition, they would have happier tenants which would make life easier for them.

So much happens in Parliament that seems boring and irrelevant to our lives, and often that is the case. But this bill really does affect us all. Even if we are not renters at the moment, we might be in the future. And, it is very likely that our children will have to rent at some point in the future.

Hence it is essential that we, as voters, pay attention to this debate on the 19th January. As mentioned, the media will not fully report the debate and I would assume the likes of the Daily Mail and the Sun will instead have front pages devoted to either attacking immigrants or praising the Royal Family.

We should pay particular attention to what our own MPs have to say at the debate and whether or not they even show up. My MP is Tulip Siddiq, and if she does not turn up at the debate I will be asking her why. And, secondly, I will ask her for her views on the matter.

All MPs love to boast about how they are on the side of the people. Well, on 19th January, they will be able to prove that.

Shlomo Anker

Shlomo is regular contributor and co-founder at the Pileus. He was previously involved in the Labour-supporting media group, Jewish Voice, and in an ongoing project to revive the Yiddish language. He is a fan of Leyton Orient & Hapoel Tel Aviv and a keen cyclist. It is while cycling that he often does his thinking for what to write in his articles.