UNFIT – Fitness For Human Habitation Act 2018

by Property118.com News Team

10:26 AM, 31st December 2018
About 2 years 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


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Comments

Mick Roberts

7:47 AM, 7th July 2019
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Fuming Landlord at 07/07/2019 - 02:06Yes we can't solve the Council not building houses.
But if they stopped chucking all these Draconian laws and taxes on Landlords and let virtually anyone rent a house out (As long as it's legal), let them leave it with a recognised licensed Agent, u would get all sorts of wealthy people, even people with 100k in the bank getting zilch interest, they'd put their money in houses, they'd get a return, tenants would have a choice, they'd say Ooh your house is no good, I'm going down the road to that better cheaper one, we'd solve the homeless.
The first Landlord would have to improve his house or he wun't rent it out.
As it is now, no lower end HB tenant can move as no one will take them and no houses to go to

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