Fitness For Human Habitation

Fitness For Human Habitation Act 2019

The Act came into force on 20 March 2019. 

It 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.

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Essential Reading  for  Landlords and Agents

"This Act Gives All Tenants The

Power To Sue Their Landlords!"

There are no new obligations for landlords under this Act!

Contrary to popular opinion, this legislation doesn't require landlords to comply with any new health and safety requirements! It merely requires them to ensure that they are meeting their existing responsibilities with regards to property standards and safety!

In effect, the Fitness For Human Habitation Act, amends the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 so as to require all landlords (private and social) to ensure that their properties, including any common parts of the building, are fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout. 

The Act states that there is an "implied agreement" between the tenant and landlord at the beginning of the tenancy that the property will be fit for human habitation. 

Landlords who do not maintain safe properties prevent the operation of an effective and competitive rental market where all landlords operate on an equal footing. The government wants to support the majority of good landlords who provide decent and well-maintained homes. And so:

This Act provides an additional means for tenants to seek redress by giving them the power to hold their landlord to account without having to rely on their local authority to do so. 

The government expects standards to improve as tenants will be empowered to take action against their landlord where they fail to adequately maintain their property. This will level the playing field for the vast majority of good landlords who are already maintaining homes fit for human habitation without serious hazards, by ensuring that they are not undercut by landlords who knowingly and persistently flout their responsibilities.  

What are the criteria for ‘Fitness for Human Habitation’?

The courts will decide whether a property is fit for human habitation by considering the matters set out in section 10 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

These are whether: 

  • the building has been neglected and is in a bad condition
  • the building is unstable
  • there’s a serious problem with damp
  • it has an unsafe layout
  • there’s not enough natural light
  • 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
  • or any of the 29 hazards set out in the Housing Health and Safety (England) Regulations 2005
  • It is for the courts to decide whether the dwelling is fit for human habitation.

    A Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) assessment by the Council is not necessary. However, a landlord should to carry out a private HHSRS assessment if they want to mount a defence or establish whether a serious health and safety hazard is present.

    The court may also make a decision on unfitness without expert advice. For example, if there were no plumbed sanitary conveniences in the property an expert opinion would not be necessary as the property would evidently be unfit.

    Get Help ASAP

    If you’ve received notice of court action by your tenants under the Fitness for Human Habitation Act you need specialist help and you need it fast!

    Not only are you looking at civil action in the courts, once your coincil discovers that you have a Fitness for Human Habitation found agaisnt you, you will find the is Council declaring you a Not Fit and Proper Person to be a Landlord and refusing or withdrawing licenses in a way that can destroy your business. We can find solutions for you that will save your business from ruin.

    Engage immediate help from experts in Housing Act Legislation and Regulation like ourselves at Landlord Licensing and Defence.

    Don’t expect that you will be able to get the action dropped. There is a very low chance of that. 

    However, what can be done – and we achieve this on a weekly basis – is for us, as your representative, to negotiate an out of court settlement. We can do this because we know the legislation and we know from experience HOW to negotiate.

    And remember, our discussions with the tenants representative do not incriminate you. If you think you can negotiate with them yourself you are totally wrong. Because everything you say can and will be used against you in evidence.

    Don’t delay – contact us immediately for the help you need.  Time is absolutely of the essence.

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