Everything you need to know about the Fitness for Habitation Act
At the end of 2018, the Homes (Fitness for Habitation) Act was passed into law after cross-party and Government backing. This Act, for the first time, defines the phrase 'fit for human habitation'. In the context of lettings and property, the word 'unfit' covers issues that are potentially damaging and hazardous to the health of the occupiers such as fire safety, heating, ventilation, condensation.
From the 20 March 2020 the Act will apply to all periodic tenancies. The Act is designed to ensure that all rented accommodation is fit for human habitation and to strengthen tenants’ means of redress against the minority of landlords who do not fulfill their legal obligations to keep their properties safe.
There are no new obligations for landlords under this Act; the legislation requires landlords to ensure that they are meeting their existing responsibilities with regards to property standards and safety.
Under the Act, the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 as amended requires all landlords (private and social) to ensure that their properties, including any common parts of the building, are fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout. The clause to cover common areas of the building comes after the tragedy of London's Grenfell Tower.
The Act will mean that landlords can be legally forced to take action in order to resolve any unsafe issues in the property if it isn’t up to the standard of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). This will also affect lettings agents who fully manage properties which do not meet the new standards. Lettings agents and landlords will not be liable where any ‘unfitness’ in the property is caused by the tenants.
Once a property has been confirmed as ‘fit for human habitation’ and there is nothing that is potentially dangerous to the health of people living there, a photograph based inventory check should be done before the tenant moves in. If a repair is required, the issue should be reported by the tenant, ideally in writing and with photos that are time and date stamped. Once the issue has been safely resolved, evidence of being ‘fit for human habitation’ should be confirmed. This should happen every time there is a repair needed on the property. There should also be a photograph based mid-term inspection and at the end of the tenancy, another photograph based inventory should take place.
Tim MacIntosh, our Network Estate Agency Support Manager for The Nottingham says; “Our tenants are provided with an online reporting system allowing any issues to be reported 24 hours a day. There is an option to upload photographs which give a clear trail should any problems arise.”
If you would like any further information relating to the Act and how this may affect you, please don’t hesitate to contact your dedicated property manager. For more information visit GOV.uk.
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