On 20 December 2018, the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill was given royal assent. The Act amends the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. It will come into force from March 2019 allowing all tenants, private and social, to take action against their landlord if their home or the building in which it is located contains a hazard that presents a risk to their health or wellbeing.
The Act creates an obligation on landlords to make sure that property is fit for habitation at the start of the tenancy and is kept so throughout. If the landlord fails meet this obligation, then the tenant will be able to bring a claim to force the landlord carry out works and seek compensation. However, it is notable that the Act does not create an obligation for a landlord to carry out works which are the responsibility for the tenant or result from a tenant’s breach of covenant.
Which issues would be covered?
The matters that could now cause a property to be unfit (only if it so defective that it is not reasonably suitable for occupation) will include from 20 March 2019:
Damp and mould growth
Asbestos and MMF
Carbon monoxide and fuel combustion products
Uncombusted fuel gas
Volatile organic compounds
Crowding and space
Entry by intruders
Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse
Food safety (inadequate provisions)
Personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage
Falls (baths, between levels, level surfaces and stairs)
Flames, hot surfaces etc
Collision and entrapment
Position and operability of amenities etc
Structural collapse and falling elements
Further Developments and Clarification
It will be interesting to see how the Courts interpret the point at which a hazard exists and then whether it is so defective that the dwelling is not suitable for occupation. It is hoped that common sense will prevail. However, problems might arise with progressive issues. For example, if there is a leak which is difficult to find and fix, which causes damp, it is not clear at what point that might render the property unfit for occupation.
f you have any questions or queries regarding this subject, please contact Claire-Elaine directly and she will be more than happy to help.
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