The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 (“the Act”) amends the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to require any property let by any landlord is fit for human habitation when a tenancy is granted and throughout its duration.

The Act already applies to all tenancies made after 20 March 2019.  From 20 March 2020 it will apply to all existing tenancies with terms of less than 7 years and considerably changes landlord’s obligations to tenants.

The Act applies to the property let to a tenant and all parts of the building it forms a part of, in which the landlord has an interest.  For example, it will include the common parts of a house of multiple occupancy or a block of flats owned by a landlord.

The Act outlines fitness for habitation by virtue of what constitutes a property unfit for human habitation.  A property will be unfit for habitation if there are serious defects in any of the following:

  • Repair,
  • Stability,
  • Freedom from damp,
  • Natural lighting,
  • Ventilation,
  • Water supply,
  • Drainage and sanitary conveniences,
  • Facilities for preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water.

The landlord in most circumstances will be responsible for fitness for habitation.  However, the Act does not make a landlord responsible for damage or disrepair caused by the tenant’s behaviour.

Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018

The Act puts an obligation on the landlord to carry out works to put any issue right, although, there are some exemptions.  The landlord is not obliged to:

  • Rebuild or reinstate a destroyed building;
  • Put right unfitness the tenant is responsible for causing;
  • Carry out works which are the responsibility of the superior landlord, or where third-party consent cannot be obtained.

Claims may be brought before the court, where a landlord may be ordered to carry out works.  Damages may be awarded.

Generally, most landlords should not have any concerns regarding the new act, as a property that is reasonably maintained it should not be deemed unfit. 

Where landlords have regulated tenancies where repair and modernisation may have been limited by a sitting tenant, the landlord must be aware of the provisions of the Act. 

If you are a landlord of residential properties in England and require further information in relation to this then please do not hesitate to contact our specialist real estate litigation team on 0161 941 4000 or via email.

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