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Fitness for Human Habitation 2018

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April 8, 2019

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You may have heard of the Fitness for Human Habitation Act if you are a landlord or a tenant. This is an act that was passed in 2018 as an amendment to the longer-standing Landlord and Tenants Act. In short, this new act brings previous rules up to date. It updates the law on the state of property tenants are entitled to. In March 2019 it started to take effect and will be fully enforceable by March 2020. Keep reading to find out what this act means for you.

What Does the New Law Cover?

The Fitness for Human Habitation Act is designed to amend the existing Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. The 1985 act sets minimum standards for tenant’s properties as a responsibility of their landlords. This new act seeks to update and improve these standards and ensures landlords keep to them. Both social and privately rented properties are covered under the new act.

Most properties rented out by landlords are safe and secure. Yet, some landlords neglect that, so some tenants live in dangerous conditions. With the new law, those neglected tenants will be able to take their irresponsible landlords to court. So, they could get the courts to order them to improve their properties.

The courts can decide whether a property is ‘fit for human habitation’. As per the 1985 act, their assessment could include: courts can decide whether a property is ‘fit for human habitation’. As per the 1985 act, their assessment could include:

  • If the building is unstable or unsafe
  • If there’s a serious damp problem
  • If there’s a lack of ventilation
  • If there’s a lack of natural light
  • If there are problems with the water supply or drainage

This is not an exhaustive list but should give you an idea of the standards a landlord should be meeting. 

natural light fit for home habitation legal act 2018 tenant landlord

What Does this Mean for Tenants?

Your landlord must make sure your home is safe, healthy, and that its condition could not seriously harm you. Most tenants are in acceptable, safe, healthy housing. But, for those that are not the process you go through is still mostly the same it was.

Although, there are a couple of restrictions on how the new act can be used. If you signed your tenancy agreement on or after 20 March 2019, you can take action against your landlord. And, that action could utilise this new Homes Act. But, if you signed your tenancy agreement before that date, it’s slightly different. Instead, you will have to wait until 20 March 2020 before you can use the Fitness for Human Habitation Act against your landlord.

But, your local council does still have powers to deal with substandard properties, even if you cannot. They can take action on your behalf if you live in poor conditions.

There are a few restrictions to the tenancies this can apply to. To find out whether it applies to you, contact a solicitor for advice. Or, you can look at this government guide for more information.

What Does this Mean for Landlords?

Largely, responsible landlords will not need to change what they are already doing. The new act will help to ensure landlords are meeting their existing obligations. These obligations, as they have been previously, should be met at the beginning and throughout the whole tenancy.

Again, as was the case before, there are exceptions to landlord responsibilities. These exceptions are something a landlord is not required to resolve. They include:

  • Problems cause by tenant behaviour
  • Problems caused by events out of the landlord’s control
  • A problem caused by a tenant’s possessions, or by something the tenant has the right to remove from the property

You will be responsible for resolving a problem from when a tenant makes you aware of the problem. Or, if the problem is in a common area, you would be immediately responsible. You are allowed a reasonable amount of time to deal with the problem. But, it is in your best interest to make sure you get on top of any problem as soon possible.

If as a landlord you fail to follow the Fitness for Human Habitation Act, your tenants may have the right to take you to court over breach of contract. Also, your local authorities have powers to enforce the new law and ensure you meet your obligations. You may also need to pay compensation, or damages, to your tenants who have been affected.

You can take a look at this government guide for more information.

Call now fitness for human habitation

How Can Chris Rudd Solicitors Help?

We can offer 15 minutes free legal advice to clarify what this means for you. If you are unsure of action you should take, as a tenant or a landlord, we can point you in the right direction.

If you are a tenant and wish to take legal action against your landlord, we can help you. Chris Rudd Solicitors can walk you through making a claim from start to finish. We can instigate your claim for you and progress it to make sure your landlord gets needed repairs done. And, we will get you the compensation you deserve.

So, if you’d like to discuss this further, get in touch today. You can call us, email us, or send us a message through the website.