New Protection for Tenants From Premises Unfit for Human Habitation
Just before Christmas Parliament passed the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018. The Act, which will come into force on 20th March 2019, aims to improve standards in the private and social rented sectors by putting landlords under an obligation to keep properties in good condition and giving tenants the right to take legal action where their landlord fails to do so.
Some of the detail of the new law is fairly complex. Some key points:
- In general, the law will apply to all tenancies of a dwelling in England let for a term of fewer than seven years. The Act will also apply to assured or public sector tenancies granted for a fixed term of seven years or more.
- The law will imply a promise by the landlord that the dwelling is fit for human habitation at the start of the tenancy and will remain fit for human habitation during the term of the tenancy.
- In deciding whether a dwelling is unfit for human habitation, regard will be had to the following matters, namely: – the state of repair, stability, freedom from damp, internal arrangement, natural lighting, ventilation, water supply, drainage and sanitary conveniences, the facilities for the preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of wastewater and any health and safety hazard specified in regulations.
- There are a number of circumstances where the obligation as to human habitation will not apply. For example, the landlord will not be obliged to carry out works or repairs for which the tenant is liable by virtue of the tenant’s duty of to use the premises in a tenant-like manner. Similarly, the landlord will not have any liability for the dwelling being unfit for human habitation if the unfitness is wholly or mainly attributable to the tenant’s own breach of covenant.
If a landlord fails to comply with the obligation as to human habitation, the tenant will be able to sue the landlord for breach of covenant in the usual way.
If you need more information on how this may affect you please contact
Caroline Wilton from our property team or
Adrian Pook from litigation on