Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 – Landlord Guide

by Property 118

0:02 AM, 20th March 2019
About 3 months ago

Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 – Landlord Guide

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Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 – Landlord Guide

Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 comes into force today 20th March 2019

The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government has released its official guide for landlords. Click here to view the full guide.

“The Act applies to the social and private rented sectors and makes it clear that landlords must ensure that their property, including any common parts of the building, is fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout.

To achieve that, landlords will need to make sure that their property is free of hazards which are so serious that the dwelling is not reasonably suitable for occupation in that condition. Most landlords take their responsibility seriously and do this already.

Where a landlord fails to do so, the tenant has the right to take action in the courts for breach of contract on the grounds that the property is unfit for human habitation. The remedies available to the tenant are an order by the court requiring the landlord to take action to reduce or remove the hazard, and or damages to compensate them for having to live in a property which was not fit for human habitation.

Criteria for Fitness for Human Habitation:

The courts will decide whether a property is fit for human habitation by considering the matters set out in section 10 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. These are whether:

  • the building has been neglected and is in a bad condition
  • the building is unstable
  • there’s a serious problem with damp
  • it has an unsafe layout
  • there’s not enough natural light
  • there’s not enough ventilation
  • there is a problem with the supply of hot and cold water
  • there are problems with the drainage or the lavatories
  • it’s difficult to prepare and cook food or wash up
  • or any of the 29 hazards set out in the Housing Health and Safety (England) Regulations 2005

It is for the courts to decide whether the dwelling is fit for human habitation. A Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) assessment is not necessary. However, a landlord might choose to carry out an assessment if they want to establish whether a serious health and safety hazard is present. Landlords of social housing may also have regard to the Decent Homes Standard.

The court may also make a decision on unfitness without expert advice. For example, if there were no plumbed sanitary conveniences in the property an expert opinion would not be necessary as the property would evidently be unfit.”



Comments

Judith Wordsworth

9:36 AM, 13th March 2019
About 3 months ago

So landlords will not be required to remedy unfitness when:  
the problem is caused by tenant behaviour ie mould from condensation/lack of ventilation; keeping the property in a filthy state and attracts mice problem.... interesting

Luke P

10:12 AM, 13th March 2019
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Judith Wordsworth at 13/03/2019 - 09:36
Not according to the legislation, but in reality we all know councils will try and push it on to the easiest target.

Chris Daniel

9:12 AM, 20th March 2019
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Judith Wordsworth at 13/03/2019 - 09:36
Trying to shift the Blame from a Landlord onto a Tenant, is - well... given Landlords experiences of Possession and courts- not easy ( which might be an understatement of the year ! )

Chris Daniel

9:19 AM, 20th March 2019
About 3 months ago

A post on the Legislation, using the term loosley ( just as its been written ) from another article. -
" Possession Friend has been warning of the inherent dangers in this loosely and poorly worded piece of Labour, pro-tenant legislation.
The FFHH reverses the position of renting property that is Unfit, by defining what a premises has to satisfy to be 'Fit' ( If its not, well Fit, the courts have to decide if its Unfit ! )
The author, Giles Peaker is 'confident that Tenants won't be able to abuse any of the 29 hazard categories that might convince a court the defect was of their own making, - i.e lack of ventilation, drying clothes inside. To prove it was of the Tenants making is going to be very hard for a landlord, and I have to say, from Landlords experiences in Possession claims in court - they don't share Mr Peakers optimism.
Looking at some of the HHSRS 29 categories of hazards, because if they exist, how can a property be 'Fit for Habitation.' ( which is totally different to a common-sense view of an Unfit property )
Asbestos ( How many properties have Artex ! )
Water services - Legionella Risk Assessments
Hygene - scratches on a worktop surface.
The legislations' author blames me for suggesting these issues and that it will only serve to 'put them in the minds of Tenants,' - as if they needed any help. .... But swiftly asserts that Tenants won't be able to 'Abuse the system'
Yeah, right - are landlords convinced - reassured ... ?

Frederick Morrow-Ahmed

9:58 AM, 20th March 2019
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris Daniel at 20/03/2019 - 09:19
This is a piece of legislation written by a lawyer for the benefit of lawyers. Since tenants will be able to claim legal aid to take the landlord to court it will be Christmas time for no win no fee lawyers. I wonder if Mr Peaker is a practitioner of this art.

Surely under common law a tenant could have taken a landlord to court anyway, so what was the purpose of this law. Oh wait, MP Karen Buck was looking for more publicity and more soundbite.

Come back Guy Fawkes, all is forgiven!

Luke P

10:23 AM, 20th March 2019
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Frederick Morrow-Ahmed at 20/03/2019 - 09:58Practitioner? Giles was awarded the top prize in the Housing Lawyer category at the most recent (2018) Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards in part for his work on this Bill. The whole legal industry is having a giggle at us at their annual ceremonies, it seems...!

https://www.lapg.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/LALY18-winners-press-release-FINAL.pdf

David Price

10:26 AM, 20th March 2019
About 3 months ago

I like the bit at the end of the guide "If you do win the case in court, your tenant might have to pay some costs.". Only some costs and no question of compensation for the landlord. The palying field continues to become more and more tilted.

Frederick Morrow-Ahmed

10:42 AM, 20th March 2019
About 3 months ago

I have always said that the greatest and most effective sanction that a tenant has against a landlord is the ability to vote with his feet. Take away that sanction and you are taking away the tenant's basic right. And this is what is going to happen when with all these jackass legislation landlords start voting with their feet. Time to get out.

David Price

10:46 AM, 20th March 2019
About 3 months ago

I can envisage a situation where a tenant complains about mould growth (1 in the hazard list), a problem which is entirely the tenant's fault, which the landlord treats with a fungicide. The tenant then takes action against the landlord under hazard 5 Exposure to chemicals used to treat timber and mould growth.
Perhaps Mr Peaker would like to comment?

Chris Daniel

11:36 AM, 20th March 2019
About 3 months ago

Alan Boswel Insurance Advertising today ( very aptly as the launch date of the FFHH legislation, for Legal cover - specifically to protect Landlords against false claims. !
Because a landlord will have to pay a solicitor to defend a spurious claim and so its going to cost landlords whether Tenants wins or losses.
There will, however be one category who will 'always win' -- Solicitors., win or loose.


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