Campaigns Regulation and Enforcement

Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill becomes law

Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill has passed through Parliament and received Royal Assent, making it law.

The Bill, tabled by Karen Buck MP, means that it will be a requirement for all social and private landlords (or agents acting on their behalf) in England to ensure that a property is fit for human habitation at the beginning and throughout the duration of the tenancy.

If a home does not meet the standard of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), tenants will have the right to take legal action in the courts, for breach of contract. The Bill amends the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

The Act comes into force three months after it has been passed, that is on 20 March 2019. It will only apply to tenancies made after that date so any tenancy entered into before 20 March (ie. signed by both parties and executed) will not be covered by the legislation initially even if the actual occupation begins after 20 March. 

The RLA supports the Bill and you can read more about this in a blog post published last year written by our Policy Manager John Stewart here.

Last September, Karen Buck MP spoke about the Bill to delegates at the RLA’s Future Renting conference, and thanked the RLA for supporting the Bill.

Karen Buck says she is pleased to have had the support from the RLA for the Bill she has tabled-the (Homes) Fitness For Human Habitation Bill #FutureRenting18— RLA Landlord News (@RLA_News) September 13, 2018

Commenting on the new law, Heather Wheeler MP, the Minister for Housing said: “Everyone deserves a safe and decent place to live, regardless of whether you own your home or rent it. That’s why government has introduced a range of measures to help ensure that people who are renting have good quality and well-maintained properties to call home. This new law is a further step to ensure that tenants have the decent homes they deserve.”

Learn more

To learn more about the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) you can read the RLA’s guide here.

About the author

Victoria Barker

Victoria Barker

Victoria is the Communications Officer for the RLA.

She is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and media review, and creating social media content. She also contributes to our members magazine, Residential Property Investor.


  • If a property remains unlet which is demonstrably unfit for human habitation, what is (or will be) the position in relation to council tax? Can a council continue to levy council tax on such a property?

  • HI I have been able to offer some homeless people a flat but they have not been able to provide a reference due to them never having their own home before, can they get a reference from a family member orhas it got to be some one official

    • We would always advise that a reference should come from an independent party such as a landlord.
      ​If this isn’t possible it is then a personal decision as to whether you want to take the risk. We would advise getting a third party to act as a guarantor to the event the tenants can’t meet their obligations under the tenancy agreement, whether that is rent payments or keeping the property free of damage etc.

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