Is your rented accommodation fit for purpose?
What is the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018?
The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 came into force on 20th March 2019, however the full force of the Act does not apply until 20th March 2020. With the full implementation looming, we take a look at what the Act does and who it will impact.
The full Act can be found on the Government website, however the key takeaways are as follows:
What does the Act aim to do?
Dealing with sub-standard rented accommodation
The Act has been introduced to improve the living conditions for tenants in rented accommodation in England. The legislation requires landlords to ensure that they are meeting their responsibilities with regards to property standards and safety.
It requires all landlords to ensure that their rental properties, including any common parts of the building, are fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout the rental period (including both the fixed term and the periodic rolling term).
Who will the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act apply to and when does it start?
The Act has been in force since 20th March 2019 for new tenancies since that date. However, the Act will apply to ALL tenancies from 20th March 2020 (including historical tenancies before 20th March 2019) that fall into the following bracket:
- Tenancies shorter than 7 years that are granted on or after 20th March 2019;
- New secure, assured and introductory tenancies on or after 20th March 2019;
- Tenancies renewed for a fixed term on or after 20th March 2019;
- From the 20th March 2020 the Act will apply to all periodic tenancies (including periodic tenancies that started before 20th March 2019).
The Act will apply to both the social and private rental sectors. It is clear from the above list that this will impact the vast majority of the rental sector in England in just a matter of weeks!
What are the criteria for ‘Fitness for Human Habitation’ and what constitutes a breach?
The Court will decide whether a property is fit for human habitation by considering the matters set out in section 10 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. These include the state of the building structure, serious damp issues, insufficient light or ventilation, issues with heating and water supply, as well as a number of other possible hazards and issues.
Landlords and Fitness for Human Habitation
The landlord is considered responsible from when he or she is made aware of the hazard/issue by the tenant. However, any hazard located in the common parts of a block of flats or an HMO would make the landlord immediately liable.
The landlord will be permitted a reasonable amount of time upon being notified of an issue by the tenant to rectify the breach (the time will depend on the circumstances on a case to case basis). Once the landlord has been made aware of a hazard, and is not actively attempting to solve the hazard, the tenant would be able to take their landlord to Court.
What are the consequences of a landlord breaching the terms of the Act?
If the Court decides that the property is not fit for any of the above reasons, the Court may Order any of the following:
- Compulsory improvement to the condition of the property;
- Compensation (and potentially the legal costs in bring a claim) to the tenant.
Compensation limits have not currently been imposed, and therefore it will be assessed on a case by case basis at the discretion of the Judge.
Landlord and tenant solicitors in Bournemouth, Christchurch & Ringwood
If you are a tenant who believes that your landlord is in breach of the Act and you wish to claim compensation against them for failing to rectify the notified breach, please contact us to set up an initial appointment.
If you are a landlord who wants help with the requirements and advice or representation in defending a claim brought under the Act please contact us to set up an initial appointment. Will Bartley, in our Dispute Resolution team here at Frettens, will be happy to assist you with your enquiry.
Free initial appointment for all new clients
We offer a free initial consultation with one of our bright and approachable lawyers to all new clients. This can take place over a tea or coffee at either our Christchurch or Ringwood offices, or over the phone.
If you'd like to speak with someone, either call us on 01202 499 255 or fill in the form on this page, and someone will be in touch.