Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 becomes law
On 20th March 2019, the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act came into force in England, a new law that advises landlords on the minimum standards required to rent out properties. The new legislation which amends the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1985 addresses the minority of landlords who let properties which are deemed unfit for human habitation.
Most importantly, the law now provides tenants with a route to redress through the courts and will place a requirement on landlords to maintain their properties at an acceptable standard for the entire duration of the tenancy.
In this article, the Property Management team at Tod Anstee Hancock provides a complete guide on the new regulations, with information on how we can help you maintain your properties to ensure they meet the new requirements.
What is the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018?
According to the official gov.uk website, the Fitness for Human Habitation Act is a detailed guide for landlords that has been introduced for the following reasons.
“It (the Fitness for Human Habitation Act) is designed to ensure that all rented accommodation is fit for human habitation and to strengthen tenants’ means of redress against the minority of landlords who do not fulfil their legal obligations to keep their properties safe.”
Essentially, the new Fitness for Human Habitation Act is an amended version of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985; the legislation requires no new obligations for landlords and still applies to both the social and private sectors.
However, significantly, the Fitness for Human Habitation Act does provide tenants with the power to take landlords to court at any stage of the tenancy if they feel the property that they are renting is not fit for human habitation.
The Act applies to all new tenancies which started on or after 20th March 2019. For tenancies already in place before this date, there is a 12-month grace period until 20th March 2020.
Which criteria will a property be judged against?
Tenants have the power to take a landlord to court for breach of contract, force them to carry out remedial works and claim compensation. If a landlord is taken to court under the Fitness for Human Habitation Act, the judge will assess the case on the following criteria which are also outlined in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985:
- General condition of the building
- Stability of the building
- Major Damp (condensation is not taken into consideration)
- An unsafe internal layout
- Insufficient natural light
- Insufficient ventilation
- Issues with hot and cold water supply
- Problems with drainage and sanitary facilities
- Inadequate facilities for preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water
- Hazards under the Housing Health Safety Rating Systems
Once the above criteria have been reviewed, the court will decide if your property is fit for purpose and will make a final decision on whether you have complied with the Fitness for Human Habitation Act.
What if my property is not deemed fit for human habitation?
If you lose the case, then the court may ask you to undertake compulsory improvements to the condition of your property. Depending on the circumstances, you will be provided with a reasonable time period to rectify any issues, but it is highly advised that issues are resolved as quickly as possible.
Furthermore, landlords may also be asked to financially compensate tenants if their property is judged not to be fit for human habitation and the issues remain unresolved.
The judge of the case will propose a figure based on the following factors:
- Perceived harm that the tenant has endured
- The longevity of any raised problems
- The severity of any raised property issues
Property management services for landlords
Tod Anstee Hancock’s Lettings and Property Management teams are fully conversant with all the legal requirements of landlords and have many years’ experience managing properties in Chichester and throughout West Sussex.
Our different levels of Property Management from a full management service to rent collection and tenant introduction means there is a range of service levels to suit every landlord.
In outsourcing your landlord responsibilities to the experienced Tod Anstee Hancock team, we can handle all the different day-to-day tasks, associated with keeping your property in top condition and your tenants happy.
To explore the range of landlord support packages that we offer at Tod Anstee Hancock, check out our West Sussex property management page today.
Speak to a leading Chichester estate agent
For further advice on the recently introduced Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act, or any of the services for landlords we provide at Tod Anstee Hancock, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of experienced estate agents today.
To talk directly with one of our friendly and helpful Lettings advisors please call us on 01243 531111.
Alternatively, request a call at a more convenient time by completing our quick and simple online enquiry form.