The Homes Act 2018 (fit for human habitation) revisits an original act of law which was passed some 35 years ago, and addresses sections which were considered in need of timely updates. Of course, these amendments mean that tenants have more leverage ensuring rented properties are fit for human habitation. Landlords need to comply with issues raised which potentially affect a tenant’s physical and mental health and wellbeing.
What doesn’t alter though is a tenant’s rights to take a landlord to task, should they negate their duties under these updated and far-ranging legislative measures. Which is where DIYPI and our team of expert panel members can support housing disrepair claims involving personal injuries. We will instruct our solicitors to represent aggrieved tenants in relation to both council and housing association properties which aren’t fit for human habitation. Be it from the outset of a tenancy or throughout the duration.
What Are the Changes the Homes Act 2018 Gives Rise to?
Rather than ushering in sweeping changes to existing legislation, the introduction of the Homes Act 2018 (fit for human habitation) expands on key areas previously covered under sections 8 and 10 of the Landlord and Tenants Act 1985. Becoming law as of the 20th of March 2019, the Homes Act 2018 focuses more intently on certain elements of property maintenance where responsibilities now lie solely with the landlord, which before might have fell within typical grey areas.
As an example of the ramifications of the act, prior to its inception if a tenant reported issues with a rented property’s ventilation system, then as it stood the landlord wasn’t legally liable to resolve the issue. Unless that is it was found to be in a state of disrepair.
However, the Homes Act 2018 has revised this contractual agreement – along with other aspects – to now make such instances an undeniable obligation of the landlord.
What Does ‘Fitness for Human Habitation’ Refer to Exactly?
It might be fair to conclude that the previous LTA 1985 Act failed to comprehensively outline what constitutes as ‘fit for human habitation’ when it comes to rented accommodation. Hence the need to redefine legislation these years later to better clarify for all parties.
The new act concentrates on important topics such as the following areas:
- Does the property require any external or internal structural repair?
- Is there a presence of damp or mould in the property?
- Are the internal arrangements in full working order?
- Is the property ventilated thoroughly?
- Is there a water supply?
- Is the property free from damp?
- Are there adequate drainage and sanitary conveniences?
- Is there adequate natural lighting entering the property?
- Is there a suitable provision of facilities for preparation and cooking of food?
- Are there provisions for the disposal of wastewater?
- Does the property contain a hazard by reference to the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System?
If a property is deemed to be unsuitable for occupation based on any one (or more) of the above-mentioned issues, then a tenant is given a legal mandate to challenge a landlord. It would appear that the phrase ‘disrepair’ has been replaced by ‘defects’ in the new legislation. With repairs equally trumped by improvements. Effectively affording tenants more rights of redress regarding a prescribed hazard, than they could legitimately action before.
Why Landlord as well as Tenants Need to be Aware of the new Homes Act 2018
Previously landlords might have got away with carrying out remedial repairs as opposed to undertaking broader improvements to an aspect of a property that was repeatedly causing issues. Yet with the advent of the Homes Act 2018, the emphasis is very much on the ‘fit for human habitation’ message.
Cutting corners won’t be an option, and rather than simply glossing over certain problems landlords will be duty-bound to correct anything that amounts to a ‘prescribed hazard’ under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) regulations.
From a legal standpoint, tenants’ rights are strengthened by the knowledge that they possess the right to pursue a housing disrepair personal injury claim against a landlord for breach of contract, if the situation isn’t resolved through negotiation and the timely delivery of actions. A landlord’s liability will be triggered once they’re in receipt of a tenant’s complaint which legally acknowledges a breach in the agreement.