You may have heard of the Homes Act if you are a landlord or a tenant. This is an act that was passed as an amendment to the longer-standing Landlord and Tenants Act. In short, this new act brings previous rules up to date.
The Homes Act updates the law on the state of property tenants can expect to live in and the act is now in full force. Keep reading to find out what this act means for you. Or, if you need more general advice, please take a look at our Advice for Tenants page.
What Does the Homes Act Cover?
The Homes Act is designed to amend the existing Landlord and Tenant Act, as we’ve mentioned.
The old act sets minimum standards for tenant’s properties as a responsibility of their landlords. This new act seeks to update and improve these standards, while also ensuring both social and private landlords keep to them.
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 to live in. With the new Homes Act, their assessment could include checking that your home is:
- Free of damp and mould
- Not too hot or too cold to live in
- Has adequate natural light
- Secure against unauthorised entry
- Clean, sanitary, and hygienic
- Safe to live in without risk of falls
This is not an exhaustive list but should give you an idea of the standards a landlord should be meeting.
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 housing. For those of you who aren’t, the process you go through is still mostly the same it was.
Since 20th March 2020, you can use the Homes Act as the basis for a claim against your landlord. Your claim could be because your landlord isn’t dealing with all of the 29 hazards outlined in the act, some of which we have mentioned already.
What Does this Mean for Landlords?
Largely, responsible landlords will not need to change what they are already doing. The new act helps to ensure landlords are meeting their existing obligations. These obligations should be met at the beginning and throughout the whole tenancy.
Again, as was the case before the Homes Act, 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 are responsible for fixing a problem from when a tenant makes you aware of the problem in the property. Or, if the problem is in a communal 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 Homes 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 if they make a claim.
You can take a look at this government guide for more information.
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.