Parliament is currently considering the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill (the Bill) to amend current landlord and tenant legislation to require that residential rented accommodation is provided and maintained in a state of fitness for human habitation.
At present, tenants are not able to bring a claim against their landlord on the basis that the property they are occupying is not safe to live in and are forced to rely on clauses in the lease, such as the repair and insurance clauses, if they wish to bring such a claim.
The recent case of Baillie v Savage  is an example of where a tenant had to rely on the clauses in his lease in bringing a claim against his landlord. In this case, part of the property’s garden wall collapsed blocking the passage to the side of the property and damaging the pipe supplying the heating system. Cracks appeared in the walls of the property as a result and the kitchen floor was bulging. The remainder of the garden wall was bulging and leaning and there was risk of further collapse. A structural engineer’s report concluded that the property was not safe as a habitable dwelling.
The tenant was successful in bringing his claim in this instance, however, a sufficient link had to be established between the damage and the unfitness of the property for occupation and use which could impede other such claims brought by tenants.
Should the aforementioned Bill be passed, a direct ‘not safe to live in’ claim should be available for the tenant to pursue instead of having to rely solely on the lease clauses. The next reading of the Bill is due to take place on the 23rd of November.
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