Landlords to be legally required to keep rented homes habitable thanks to Fitness of Habitation Bill

On 20th December 2018, a private members bill that is looking to address the growing housing crisis in the UK was given royal assent in the House of Lords.

Currently, 4.7 million homes in the UK fail to meet the decent homes standard, and the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill proposed by MP Karen Buck is looking to change that.

How is this act looking to address the housing crisis for tenants?

At the moment, landlords are legally required to carry out basic maintenance on their rented properties. This will include:

  • Ensuring there is access to electricity, gas, hot water and heating
  • Ensuring that the building is well-maintained structurally in the eyes of the law
  • Ensuring that there is adequate access to sinks, toilets and drainage

However, the Landlord and Tenant Act does not state that the landlord has to ensure that their rented property is fit for human habitation. The new act is looking to ensure that all properties are fit for human habitation at the time of letting and kept in that condition throughout the tenancy.

How will the new act determine whether a property is fit for human habitation?

Under the new act, landlords will have to ensure that any properties they are renting out do not suffer from any Category 1 hazard’s as set out in the Housing Health and Safety Rating System. These hazards will include:

  • Exposed wiring
  • Dangerous or broken boilers
  • Excessively cold bedrooms
  • Leaking roof
  • Mould on the walls or ceiling
  • Infestations of pests or vermin
  • Broken steps at the top of stairs
  • Lack of security due to badly fitting doors or problems with locks

With landlords legally required to deal with the above issues as and when they arise, any tenants who find themselves living in squalid and unfit housing conditions will be able to take direct action against their landlord if they find that their rented property is falling into disarray.

The Act comes into force on the 20th March 2019 and will apply to all new tenancies of a term less than 7 years including new periodic tenancies.  It will apply to all periodic tenancies from 20th March 2020.

What can I do if my rented home is falling into repair?

If you have reported problems with your rented home to your landlord, but they have failed to address them within a reasonable amount of time, you may be entitled to compensation. The courts can also order the landlord to carry out the repairs.  To find out the rights you hold as a tenant, or for a free initial assessment of your claim, contact CEL Solicitors today on 0808 281 2660 or email info@celsolicitors.co.uk