A Complete Guide to the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018
The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 makes it clear that landlords must ensure that their property, including any common parts of the building, is fit for human habitation at the start of the tenancy and throughout.
The Act will apply to:
- New secure, assured and introductory tenancies (on or after 20 March 2019)
- Tenancies shorter than 7 years that are granted on or after 20 March 2019
- Tenancies renewed for a fixed term (on or after 20 March 2019)
From the 20 March 2020 the Act will apply to all periodic tenancies. This is all tenancies that started before 20 March 2019; in this instance landlords will have 12 months from the commencement date of the Act before the requirement comes into force.
Exceptions to this Act:
The landlord will not be required to remedy unfitness when:
- the problem is caused by tenant behaviour or is caused by the tenants’ own possessions
- the problem is caused by events like fires, storms and floods which are completely beyond the landlord’s control
- the landlord hasn’t been able to get consent e.g. planning permission, permission from freeholders etc. There must be evidence of reasonable efforts to gain permission
What is the criteria for ‘Fitness for Human Habitation’?
These are whether:
- the building has been neglected and is in a bad condition and/or the building is unstable
- there’s a serious problem with damp
- it has an unsafe layout
- there’s not enough natural light and/or there’s not enough ventilation
- there is a problem with the supply of hot and cold water
- there are problems with the drainage or the lavatories
- it’s difficult to prepare and cook food or wash up
Timelines to resolve any issues:
Landlords will have a reasonable amount time to deal with the hazard, which will depend on the circumstances. If the courts find that a property is not fit for human habitation, then they may require one or both of the following:
- compulsory improvement to the condition of the property
- compensation to the tenant
If you would like to find out more information regarding this legislative change, please contact your local office for further information.