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New Residential Landlord and Tenant legislation: Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018

12 March 2019

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 comes into effect on 20 March 2019. The Act makes amendments to the existing Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. A new s9A(1) implies into any tenancy agreement a covenant by the landlord that the dwelling:

  1. is fit for human habitation at the time the lease is granted or otherwise created or, if later, at the beginning of the term of the lease, and
  2. will remain fit for human habitation during the term of the lease.

This cannot be avoided or contracted out of by the landlord, nor can any contractual penalty be levied on the tenant for relying on the covenant (s.9A(4)).

What is covered by the term unfit for habitation?

Expert evidence is likely to be needed to determine whether a property is unfit for habitation. Regard should be had to the following areas:

  • Repair
  • Stability
  • Freedom from damp
  • Internal arrangements
  • Natural lighting
  • Ventilation
  • Water supply
  • Drainage and sanitary conveniences
  • Facilities for preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water

Is the landlord responsible for all types of unfitness for habitation?

No. There are various exeptions such as:

  • Unfitness caused by a tenant’s failure to act in a tenant-like manner.
  • Unfitness caused by a tenant’s breach of covenant.
  • There is no obligation on the landlord to maintain or repair anything that a tenant is entitled to remove from the dwelling.
  • The landlord is not obliged to rebuild or reinstate the property after it has been destroyed.

Comment

There are a number of Acts that protect tenants in respect of disrepair or breach of health and safety but there are gaps in the protection. This Act protects the tenant where the property is unfit for habitation. This concept is wide reaching and captures aspects such as condensation mould due to poor design, inadequate heating for the room size, lack of heating etc.

What the Property team can do for you

We have a team of property lawyers who are specialists in landlord and tenant law. Whether you are a landlord, tenant or letting agent we can advise you on how this legislation might affect you when it becomes law. For further information please contact Gemma Richards email: gemmarichards@barlowrobbins.com or Simon Fulford email: simonfulford@barlowrobbins.com