Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018
The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 (‘the Act’) comes into force on 20 March 2019. This Act creates a duty on social housing landlords, private residential landlords and letting agents acting on their behalf (by implying a covenant in the tenancy agreement) to ensure that a property is ‘fit for human habitation’ both at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout.
These obligations extend to the dwelling and all parts of the building (including any common or shared areas) which the landlord has an estate or interest.
If a landlord does not comply with these obligations, the tenant can sue the landlord directly for breach of its tenancy agreement.
Whilst this Act extends to England and Wales, its practical changes only affect properties in England.
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.
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.
Landlords and agents acting on their behalf should ensure they have a photographic inventory and schedule of condition at the beginning, throughout the tenancy and on “check-out” at the end of the tenancy.
The Residential Landlord Health and Safety Policy and Residential HMO Landlord Health and Safety Policy now refers to the legislation and add an obligation to the General Principles to ensure that these obligations are met throughout the tenancy.
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.