Front cover of the Homes Fitness for Human Habitation Act 2018

Fitness For Human Habitation Act

1 April 2019

The Fitness for Human Habitation (Home Act 2018) came into play in March 2019, but do you know how it affects you? As a landlord, there are a lot of really important regulations that you need to be aware of.

What is the Fitness for Human Habitation Act?

The Fitness for Human Habitation Act amends the current regulations of fitness for human habitation that can be found in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. The Act extends to England and Wales. However, the practical changes are only for landlords with properties in England as Wales has its own fitness consultation.

What will the Fitness for Human Habitation Act affect?

The Fitness for Human Habitation Act came into place on 29th March 2019. It applies to all new tenancies that are less than 7 years. It also applies to the tenancy renewals in properties from that date. The Fitness for Human Habitation Act is also applicable to tenancies that have a fixed term tenancy and it will become periodic for these tenancies on or after 20th March 2019.

It is important to note that the Fitness for Human Habitation Act applies to any lease under which the property is let wholly or mainly for human habitation, in tenancy for 7 years or less. It also covers some secure tenancies.

What happens if my property does not meet Fitness for Human Habitation Act requirements?

The new act gives tenants the power to take landlords to court for breach of contract. This means that a tenant can force a landlord, or agent acting on behalf of the landlord, to carry out improvement works. The tenancy can even claim compensation from the landlord.

It is possible that under the new Fitness for Human Habitation Act a landlord can be sued for damage for the entire length of the tenancy contract in some cases!

What does ‘Fit for Human Habitation’ actually mean?

There are a number of issues that will be considered when deciding if a rented property meets criteria or not. These include the following issues, and they will be considered before a final decision is made by the judge;

  • Repair
  • Stability
  • Damp
  • Internal Arrangement
  • Natural Lighting
  • Ventilation
  • Water Supply
  • Drainage & Sanitary Conveniences
  • Facilities for Preparation / Cooking Food
  • Disposal of Waste Water
  • Hazards Under the Housing Health & Safety Rating System

If it is decided that the rented property is significantly defective in one or more of the areas as listed above, then it will be decided that the house is not fit for human habitation. This will be a facts-based assessment, but the decision is at the discretion of the judge.

What can a landlord do to ensure their home meets Fitness for Human Habitation Act regulations?

If you are a responsible landlord that regularly checks and maintains your rented property then you won’t need to do anything.

However, you will still need to be vigilant. While the Fitness for Human Habitation Act does not state that the tenant must notify you it is expected that this Act will work in the same way as the current repairing obligations for landlords.

For HMO properties or properties where the accommodation is rented out on a per room basis, the obligation of the landlord begins when the defect occurs. This is even the case if the tenant has no awareness of the issue or did not report the issue to you.

As a landlord, if you fail to complete repairs on time, then you could be taken to court by your tenant. While a broken boiler may not be seen as an emergency in the warmer months, it is classed as an emergency during winter months for example.

If you have any concerns about your rented property, it is strongly advised that repairs are completed now, or as soon as possible. You need to address any issues that fall within the criteria now before it is too late!

How can Timberwise help you adhere to Fitness for Human Habitation Act regulations?

If you have damp in your rented property this needs to be dealt with sooner, rather than later. Not only does damp fall under the issues covered in the Fitness for Human Habitation Act criteria, but it can also cause further damage if it isn’t dealt with quickly. This can then lead to black marks for you in other areas of the Fitness for Human Habitation Act criteria. This can include repair issues, stability issues, facility for food preparation and cooking issues as well as issues related to hazards under the housing health and safety rating system.

If you have noticed damp in your property then let us know and we can take a look at your damp issues and recommend ways to resolve them. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for when it comes to damp in your property then get in touch with our damp specialists. We can tell you what key damp things to look out for, and what we can do to resolve them before they become a much more serious issue.