The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 (HFHHA) comes into force on March 20 and will amend the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
It will require all landlords to ensure that the homes they let are fit for human habitation.
The HFHHA introduces an obligation into tenancy agreements that the property is both fit for human habitation and will remain fit for human habitation for the duration of the tenancy.
It will apply to all tenancies granted after March 20, 2019, as long as they are under seven years fixed term. That will include renewals of existing tenancies and where a fixed term tenancy become periodic after March 20. It will apply to both social and private landlords. However it will not apply to secure tenancies, or tenancies which are currently periodic, until March 20, 2020.
The new legislation means tenants will have greater protection in relation to disrepair.
A property will be unfit for habitation if there are serious defects in any of the following: Stability: freedom from damp; internal arrangement; natural lighting; ventilation; water supply; drainage and sanitary conveniences; facilities for the preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water.
In relation to a dwelling in England, any prescribed hazard.
The house will be regarded as unfit for human habitation if, and only if, it is so defective in one or more of those matters that it is not reasonably suitable for occupation in that condition.
Where a property is unfit then the landlord must carry out the works necessary to make the property fit for human habitation (although there are exemptions, for example where the defect is as a result of something the tenant has done in breach of covenant and in addition the landlord is also not required to rebuild or reinstate a destroyed building.
If the landlord fails to carry out the required works then the tenant can make an application to the county court for an order that they do, and/or for payment of damages.
Legal aid will be available on the same basis as for disrepair claims currently. That means it will be limited to claims to remedy issues causing a serious risk to health and/or the safety of the occupiers. Legal aid will not extend to a standalone damages claim or for assistance in remedying lesser issues.
Ben Hoare Bell LLP has specialist housing solicitors who can advise you on matters such as this. To speak to a solicitor phone 0191 565 3112 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for further information.