Landlords – Are You Aware of Homes (Fitness For Human Habitation) Act?

4th April 2019 posted in Landlords Tenants

Landlords have a lot of regulations to comply with and consider. We know that staying in touch with these regulations can be a full-time job, and some landlords may have overlooked the introduction of the Homes (Fitness For Human Habitation) Act. This Act came into force on the 20th of March, although there is no requirement for a new licence or immediate action from any landlord.

However, landlords are required to ensure the rental property is fit for human habitation. Homes should be in a suitable condition at the start of the tenancy, and for the duration of the lease.  This new Act gives Tenants more power and a right regarding taking action against a Landlord through the Courts.

The Homes (Fitness For Human Habitation) Act applies to:

·         Fixed-term tenancies which renew from the 20th of March 2019

·         New assured, introductory and secure tenancies, taking effect on or after the 20th of March 2019

·         Leases shorter than seven years, taking effect on or after the 20th of March 2019

As of the 20th of March 2020, the Act applies for all periodic tenancies.

Landlords should recognise there are some exemptions to the Act. If the tenant has caused the damage or problem, or the tenant’s possessions, the landlord isn’t responsible for resolving the issue. If the landlord is unable to obtain consent to make improvements at the property, they will not be held accountable. Also, if an ‘Act of God’ is deemed responsible for the issues, the landlord will not be liable for resolving the problem.

Courts will determine whether a property is fit for human habitation or not

The courts will decide if a property is suitable for human habitation. The court will judge on the contents of Section 10 of the Tenant Act 1985. Issues that may lead to a home being uninhabitable include a lack of ventilation, a lack of natural light, problems with hot and cold water, issues with cooking food, issues with washing up, dampness and where the property is unstable.

Landlords may be ordered to pay compensation

When the courts decide the landlord is responsible, a landlord may be forced to make necessary improvements at the rental accommodation. The landlord may be ordered to provide the tenant with compensation. The amount of compensation the landlord has to pay will depend on:

·         The damage the tenant has suffered

·         The condition of the property

·         How long the property was in poor condition for

The fact that tenants can sue landlords for a breach of contract is a serious matter. While most landlords will not be affected by this Act, it is a sensible idea to review the property of rental accommodation. Rogue landlords will have a lot to worry about, which means tenants will receive a higher level of protection and support. In the long-term, dependable landlords can benefit from this Act, but it is understandable that many landlords look for assurance about their property and the services they offer.

If you are a landlord looking for guidance about your rental property requirements, contact Hunters, and we will be more than happy to assist you.