Government have issued Guidance to help tenants, landlords and local authorities understand the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, which comes into force on 20 March 2019.
The guidance explains the minimum standards required to let domestic property under the Act. It is designed to ensure that all rented accommodation is fit for human habitation and to strengthen tenants’ means of redress against the minority of landlords who do not fulfil their legal obligations to keep their properties safe.
There are no new obligations for landlords under this Act; the legislation requires landlords to ensure that they are meeting their existing responsibilities with regards to property standards and safety.
Under the Act, the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 is amended to require all landlords (private and social) to ensure that their properties, including any common parts of the building, are fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout.
The Act applies to the social and private rented sectors and makes it clear that landlords must ensure that their property, including any common parts of the building, is fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout. To achieve that, landlords will need to make sure that their property is free of hazards which are so serious that the dwelling is not reasonably suitable for occupation in that condition.
Where a landlord fails to do so, the tenant has the right to take action in the courts for breach of contract on the grounds that the property is unfit for human habitation. The remedies available to the tenant are an order by the court requiring the landlord to take action to reduce or remove the hazard, and / or damages to compensate them for having to live in a property which was not fit for human habitation.
The Act will apply to:
- Tenancies shorter than 7 years that are granted on or after 20 March 2019 (tenancies longer than 7 years that can be terminated by the landlord before the expiry of 7 years shall be treated as if the tenancy was for less than 7 years)
- New secure, assured and introductory tenancies (on or after 20 March 2019)
- Tenancies renewed for a fixed term (on or after 20 March 2019)
- From the 20 March 2020 the Act will apply to all periodic tenancies. This is all tenancies that started Before 20 March 2019; in this instance landlords will have 12 months from the commencement date of the Act before the requirement comes into force
In conjunction with Woodstock Property Law, we have produced a free webinar for NALS Firms on the Fitness for Human Habitation Act which can be viewed here (you may need to register to view)