Introduction of the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018

Landlords in England are now subject to even further legislation aimed to improve the standard of rented residential accommodation. The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 came into force on 20 March 2019. The Act amends the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 requiring rented residential accommodation is provided and maintained in a state of “fitness for human habitation”. The consequence of which is it provides tenants an alternative process to request repair and improvement works to be undertaken. Should the landlord, or a landlords managing agent, not undertake the works and the accommodation remains unfit for human habitation it can result in the tenant issuing legal proceedings without needing to contact their local authority first.

The Act uses the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to determine the accommodations fitness. This is done using the 29 hazards identified by the HHSRS which include but are not limited to:

  • – Condensation, damp and mould growth
  • – Excess cold
  • – Excess heat
  • – Asbestos and Manufactured Mineral Fibres (MMF)
  • – Carbon monoxide and fuel combustion products
  • – Electrical hazards
  • – Sanitation and drainage problems
  • – Water supply
  • – Structural collapse and falling element
  • – Crowding and space
  • – Inadequate natural lighting

The accommodation only needs to be defective on one of the 29 hazards to be deemed unfit. The landlord will not be responsible:

  • – For repairs which the tenant is liable:
    • The duty of the tenant to use the premises in a tenant like manner
    • An express covenant of the tenant of substantially the same effect as that duty
  • – Rebuild or reinstate the dwelling in the case of destruction or damage by fire, storm, flood or other inevitable accident
  • – To keep in repair or maintain anything which the tenant is entitled to remove from the dwelling
  • – To repair which, if carried out, would put the landlord in breach of any obligation imposed by any enactment
  • – To carry out the works or repairs requiring the consent of a superior landlord or other-third-party in which consent has not been obtained following reasonable endeavours to obtain it

The act is applicable to all tenancies which provide accommodation unless they have a fixed term of 7 years or more. Periodic tenancies in existence on 20 March 2019 will be covered by the provisions of the Act but benefit from a 12 month grace period restricting tenants from issuing court proceedings until 20 March 2020. A Farm Business Tenancy that is continuing annually (but not under a new agreement) after a 7-year term has expired it will still be exempt.