Everything you need to know about the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018

Published on 26th December 2018 by Laura West

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 will soon become law, and will amend the 1985 Landlord and Tenant Act, which requires that social or private rented property is suitable for human habitation as soon as a tenancy starts, and for its duration.
The Act will come into force on the 20th March 2019, and as the Bill becomes law, it is essential for landlords and letting agents to understand what is now required of them.

The Act will cover all tenancies under seven years in duration in both the private and social rented sectors. The requirements include dwellings let to a tenant, and any communal parts of buildings which the landlord has partial responsibility for. This includes the common areas of a block of flats or an HMO owned by a landlord, and will extend to existing tenancies including legacy regulated and periodic tenancies.

The Act defines what constitutes a property’s unfitness for human habitation. A property is unfit for human habitation if there are any serious defects in:

– Stability
– Internal arrangement
– Ventilation
– Sanitary and drainage conveniences
– Repair
– Damp
– Natural lighting
– Water supply
– Facilities for cooking or preparation of food and disposal of water

The Act also mentions that a property will be classed as unfit for habitation if it’s seriously defective in at least one of these areas. In most circumstances, the landlord is responsible for the property’s fitness for habitation. However, the landlord is not responsible for any disrepair or damage caused by the tenant. If a property is deemed unsuitable for human habitation, the landlord must carry out the necessary works to ensure the issue is resolved, if it is their responsibility. However, a landlord is not obliged to correct any unsuitability caused by a tenant, or to reinstate or rebuild a building which is destroyed, or conduct works which are the responsibility of a third-party that they cannot obtain consent for.

Claims can be brought to court by a tenant, and a landlord may be forced to carry out work or repairs, with damages awarded. Most landlords should not be concerned about the new Act, as a reasonably maintained rental home will not be deemed unfit for purpose. Only landlords with properties containing serious repair issues will be affected, where these problems must be resolved irrespective of this new legislation. However, landlords who may have been limited in renovating or repairing a property due to a sitting tenant must understand the Act’s provisions.

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