UNFIT – Fitness For Human Habitation Act 2018

by Property118.com News Team

10:26 AM, 31st December 2018
About 2 weeks ago

UNFIT – Fitness For Human Habitation Act 2018

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UNFIT – Fitness For Human Habitation Act 2018

Lets get straight to the point, as there’s only 5 pages to this Act. Click Here

This was a clever proposition by Karen Buck MP to put to Landlord Associations, in that how could ‘Professional’ landlords oppose a bill to stop rental properties that weren’t ‘ fit for Human Habitation.’

Short answer is they, and no landlord other than a Criminal one could.  However,  that is far, far from what the legislation actually lays down and it would appear, not to have been challenged or raised by ANYONE.

The first page gives some mechanics in that this Act places itself after Section 9 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985; to be known as Section 9A Fitness for Human Habitation of Dwellings in England.

FFHH 2018,  Sec 1 (3) (2) (a) (1)  [ the indexing is a dogs dinner ]  repeats the duty of the lessee to act in a tenant-like manner (of course they all do don’t they – no criminal or Rogue tenants, well not to be found such in court anyway) and  subject to this Act.

The second para 1 (3) (a) repeats similarly in that the lessor’s covenant to keep in repair, is not bound by lessee’s own breach.

Sec 1 (7) repeats the lessors rights to inspect the property with 24 hours notice (we all know that happens too)!

Various other superflous legalese until the last page, 5 where the briefest of mentions are made to –

What actually constitutes a property being ‘Unfit for Human Habitation’  which in my humble, non-legally qualified opinion, is nothing of the sort, and likey to be found in many properties, rental or privately owned!

The actual substance – effect of this 5 page piece of legislation, is to insert at paragraph 10 of the L and T Act 1985 ( innocuously ) after… ‘ facilities for the preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water ‘ ~  ” ANY PRESCRIBED HAZARD ”

FFHH defines Prescribed Hazard, as meaning prescribed by Section 2 of the Housing Act 2004 – which are, wait for it – of such seriousness as to warrant the title ‘Fitness for Human Habitation’  –  Category 1, OR 2  Hazards under HHSRS!

So what is a Cat 1 or 2 hazard – Our ‘friends at that nice alledged charitable organisation, ‘No Shelter’, define common hazards you can complain about as:

  • Damp and Mould growth
  • Excessive cold
  • Overcrowding
  • Risk of falling on stairs, floors or outside paths
  • A faulty gas boiler
  • Fire risks
  • Dangerous electrics

A google search for what is a Category 2 hazard is defined as ‘a hazard that is less serious or urgent’ (hardly something to make a house Unfit for Human habitation).

Damp and mould can be caused by tenants drying clothes and not ventilating a property, but proving it is another thing.

A factor of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System is that every one of the 29 potential hazards, has a heallth implication understandably, hence HHSRS title – hold onto that Health implication for later Legal Aid input below:

Legal Aid is only allowed for Re-possession of a rented home, injunctions relating to harassment in the home, anti-social behaviour cases in the County court (My company is dealing with quite an horrendous example at the moment where his legal aid solicitor has entered a not guilty plea, delaying the injunction past the Section 21 hearing date) and – DISREPAIR but only regarding removal or eradication of serious risk of harm to the health and safety of the occupiers. Claims for Damages are outside the scope of Legal Aid, save as a Counter claim in Possession proceedings!

Legal Action Journal, December 2018 heavily features Legal Aid (as it frequently does) Page 4 is about the All-Party Parliamentary group (APPG ) on Legal Aid chaired by a grinning, none other than Karen Buck MP who commented that a Labour government would review the Legal Aid means test and restore legal aid for ALL housing cases. Labour plans for Law centres to have a major new role (read legally force landlords to house tenants free, regardless).

Another article mentions Legal Aid having a special debate in parliament last month where chair of the justice committee, Bob Neill Conservative MP for Bromley said the pendulum had swung too far in reductions to legal aid. He expressed concerns about legal aid firms finacial viability (wipe the tears from your eyes) citing a Solicitors Regulation Authority survey to which HALF of 2000 firms questioned said they were at risk due to legal aid cuts. This does make you wonder what kind of tax-payers money is being spent on solicitors defending all sorts.

Back to HHSRS – Health implications: It is not rocket science to see how there will be a surge in HHSRS claims for disrepair, given that every one of the 29 hazards, has by definition H ‘Health’ SRS contained therein.

Is it a coincidence that a solicitor offered to write pro-bono, the FFHH legislation, so weakly defining a breach of fitness that seems to equal ‘Unfit for Habitation.’ Surely a patch of mould, spindle missing from stairs, loose stair carpet etc isn’t a House Unfit for Human Habitation!     With Legal aid funding to delay Possession proceedings and claim compensation from landlords to off-set or even Exceed rental default will surely be the result.

I find it inconceivable that Landlords organisations, other landlord websites and in fact virtually everyone has rounded to support the FFHH without scrutiny of its weak means to prevent very strongly stated aims that actually contradict.

It won’t be Criminal landlords that will suffer the consequence of renting out Unfit homes, it will be the landlords of criminal tenants who happen across a No-win No-fee solicitor.  They’re already out there advertising their services for deposit contraventions and it won’t be long before adverts appear for FFHH disrepair cases.

Simply put, the legislation means a Tenant can sue a landlord for any defect that constitutes a Cat 1 OR 2 hazard, and is highly likely to be Legal Aid funded to do so.  Likely a coincidence that the Pro-bono author of the Bill is a legal aid practitioner?

Chris

Courtesy of – Possession Friend.uk



Comments

Steve B

10:11 AM, 6th January 2019
About A week ago

As an aside, I noticed the very first section of this amendment states:
(1)The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 is amended in accordance with subsections (2) to (5).

So if it's just (2) to (5), where does subsection (6) stand in all this? ...

(6)In section 302 of the Housing Act 1985 (management and repair of houses acquired under section 300 or retained under section 301), in paragraph (c)—
(a)for “section 8” substitute “sections 8 and 9A”, and
(b)for “does” substitute “do”.

Without wishing to appear pedantic or foolish then it seems to me that IF this is an error in print and subsequent proof reading prior to publication, then it is of an oversight of such a magnitude to be beyond belief. I'm not sure if there are any legal implications etc. but IF this is indeed an error (and not simply my misunderstanding/misreading) then how on Earth are we mere LLs expected to understand such documents that 'experts' cannot even write correctly?

Perhaps Giles could explain it more clearly? I am happy to be corrected (and enlightened).

Giles Peaker

11:16 AM, 6th January 2019
About A week ago

Reply to the comment left by Steve B at 06/01/2019 - 10:11
As it says, subsections (2) to (5) amend Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. Subsection (6) amends Housing Act 1985. So they amend different Acts. No error.

Steve B

11:25 AM, 6th January 2019
About A week ago

Thank you Giles, suitably enlightened!

Giles Peaker

11:37 AM, 6th January 2019
About A week ago

Reply to the comment left by Steve B at 06/01/2019 - 11:25
The HA 1985 amends aren’t relevant for private landlords. What people should be looking at is what the amended Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 will be. I’ve put a short explainer on the Act and a pdf of what sections 8 to 10 LTA 1985 will read as on Nearly Legal - here https://nearlylegal.co.uk/2018/12/fitness-for-habitation-a-thumbnail-guide/

Winsome P

8:53 AM, 7th January 2019
About A week ago

Reply to the comment left by Giles Peaker at 04/01/2019 - 21:40
That sounds nice but I have had six tenants wishing to exit a student 12 month tenancy early because they signed up for a cheaper rental BUT that started 1.5months earlier than mine.
So how do I prove that they deliberately damaged the property in all and I mean ALL areas that are solely the Landlords responsibility????
After having paid for over six plumbers call outs I was there myself when a chance comment revealed an insight into the tenant that was not normal.
“you need a bigger wrench for that”
Q1 How would a tenant who has not looked behind the back of a kitchen sink have any idea of the size of the wrench required?
Q2 To know that my tools are not big enough he must of tried with other similar tools
Q3 What is a tenant doing looking at such items unless a) they broke it climbing in through the ground floor from the garden
b) have enough knowledge of what a landlord is responsible for and has to pay the cost of. Well I know they know what I am liable for because 3 weeks into the tenancy a stone most likely was thrown up and broke a large double glazed window 1.5m wide by 90cm tall. “it came from a passing bus” (missing all the parked cars along the roadside, travelling another 15meters and then going up to the first floor. If this was the case the entire terrace should look like it’s been hit by machine gun fire and every window kept needing repair. Anyway I mistakenly took the view that it was the tenants guests that were responsible and so they were liable for the cost of its replacement - but because it was from the outside I later found out it was my cost.
Up shot is they must of found a list of everything I am responsible and damaged every part of that list.
I realised this on checkout as they were static electric plugs that had been broken fracktured- how does that happen? How does a plug for an underlight get brown and black burns on the outside? how does the inside plastic rod for a cistern valve get snapped off making the replacement of the entire cistern become required, how does a 1 cm wide 1 cm deep dent appear in a downstairs central heating pipe happen breaking through 17 years of paint layers? How come every I repeat every sink gains a leak from the tap, tbc

Winsome P

9:17 AM, 7th January 2019
About A week ago

Reply to the comment left by MartinO at 05/01/2019 - 09:41
Same with a court list of convicted bad landlords but nothing for convicted bad tenants!!!!
Equality and fairness.
This is legislation implemented without or maybe with the practical reality implications.
So now I myself have paid out hundreds of pounds and numerous visits to workmen to fix why they have undone. The problem is I cannot prove that a join was loosened. I cannot prove how the electric plug broke, I cannot prove they affected the taps, the lights, the gas supply to the hob nor both toilet cisterns. It’s also difficult to prove that they used the back of the wooden front door as a dart board as who checks such a thing. They also didn’t pay the final two months rent some 6k.
They also tried the mould charge with the council requiring me to clean the tiles and repaint. I put a single cloth and made diagonal stripes across the blackened tiles to show they had never cleaned the bathroom. They said that the orange staining at places that had shower water or a persons soap coming off was all over the shower curtain, ceramic bath, tiles and grout was the water rather than a boy washing off his orange spray body tan.

This is a charter for extra costs on Landlords for visits and those costs will ramp up legal aid and landlords expenses.

Stupid lawmakers led by the nose by avaricious self serving lawyers who have never been practical landlords to the poor.

This legislation should of had a sunset clause to end it in three years unless it is renewed.

Seething Landlord

9:45 AM, 7th January 2019
About A week ago

Reply to the comment left by Winsome P at 07/01/2019 - 09:17
What has any of this to do with the new legislation?

Sami Houmrani

22:00 PM, 7th January 2019
About A week ago

Nobody holds a gun to any Tenants head and makes them live in a hole. Dodgy Landlords wouldn't exist if tenants didnt move into these holes in the first place.

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