This week the advice team were able to help a member to understand the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.
This piece of legislation will apply to all tenancies in England from March 20th 2020, and we have recently received more calls relating to this legislation as this date approaches.
One of our members contacted us to seek advice relating to this act and what his obligations were, and if he needed to do anything to prepare.
The fitness act places an obligation on landlords to make sure that they provide their properties, and maintain them, in a standard fit for human habitation.
This takes into account the tenant in the property and if it is fit for them to live in. It doesn’t mean that there is any defect or issue present whatsoever, but that if an issue is present and makes the property unfit for the occupier, that occupier could have a claim.
The act doesn’t introduce any ‘new’ responsibilities on landlords as such, as landlords should already have been providing properties that are in a good condition and keeping up with repairs to the property under existing legislation. What this act allows is for the tenant to make their own claim directly against the landlord, rather than having to rely on the council to enforce against a rogue landlord.
Our member mentioned they had recently had an issue crop up with the boiler at one of their properties. They made it a priority to get the issue fixed promptly, especially due to the cold weather. There are two reasons that this member did not have to worry about a claim being made against them.
Firstly- it goes without saying that all properties must be fit to live in for tenants, but this legislation did not apply to this tenancy as it began before 20th March 2019, and has not been renewed since.
Secondly, as the repairs were carried out regardless, the tenant is not likely to have a successful claim that the property was not fit for them to live in. The landlord still has a ‘reasonable time’ to get the works done, based upon how severe the issue is. Fixing the boiler within a few days when the weather is cold is what is expected of a landlord, and that is what they have done. Even if this situation had arisen after March 20th 2020, the landlord should still be fine.
Maria Sheldon, Advice Team Leader, said “This legislation will not have much of an impact upon many of our members who are good landlords who rent out properties that are fit for human habitation and are of a good standard. That being said, the advice team are still there to assist members if they need it.”
- Want to to learn more about the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018? Read our guide for landlords.