Extension of Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018

February 2020

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 (‘the Act’) came into force on 20 March 2019. This Act created a duty on social housing landlords, private residential landlords and letting agents acting on their behalf (by implying a covenant in new tenancy agreements made on or after the 20 March 2019 for a term of less than seven years) to ensure that a property is ‘fit for human habitation’ both at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout.

Please see the previous newsletter on The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 from February 2019 which can be found here.

From 20 March 2020 the Act will apply to all existing tenancies with terms of less than seven years. This means that existing periodic tenancies will be subject to an implied covenant that the dwelling will be fit for human habitation on 20 March 2020 and will then remain fit for human habitation during the rest of the term.

Landlords may have to make improvements and not just carry out repairs to put and keep the property in a fit state for human habitation. The obligation to ensure that a property is ‘fit for human habitation’ extends to the dwelling and all parts of the building (including any common or shared areas) which the landlord has an estate or interest.

In determining whether a property is fit for human habitation, the Act amends the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 by incorporating the hazards set out in the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to the existing nine hazards listed in the 1985 Act. The courts must decide if the property is so far defective in one or more of these matters that it is not reasonably suitable for occupation.

If a landlord does not comply with these obligations, the tenant can sue the landlord directly for breach of its tenancy agreement. Several exceptions may apply if the property is substandard due to the actions of the tenant, or for a reason outside of the landlord’s control, or reasonable attempts by the landlord to obtain consent from a third party for works were made but not obtained.

Whilst this Act extends to England and Wales, its practical changes only affect properties in England as similar obligations affecting landlords in Wales are dealt with under the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016.

Please see our Guidance Note on the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 for further information.

The property templates were updated to reflect these legislative changes when the Act came into force for all new tenancies made on or after the 20 March 2019. The property templates can therefore be used for all existing tenancies of less than seven years from the 20 March 2020.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

Top