Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act

20/12/2018 10:14 PM

Today I learned that the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act (FFHH) has received Royal ascent and has passed in to law. It's due to come in to force in about three months time. This is something that has been widely supported by industry bodies such as ARLA, and charities such as Shelter. Presently a tenant has to rely on local authorities to be able to challenge a Landlord about the condition of their rented accommodation.

What does the Act do?

In short it amends the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 and places a legal obligation on to a Landlord to ensure the property is fit for human habitation at the start of, and throughout the term of the tenancy. This means that items that currently fall outside of a Landlords legal repair obligations are being brough in to the new standard. Items such as mould and damp due to poor ventilation, and infestations. The Act incorporates the Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS) as a manner of determining whether a property is 'fit' and adds the hazards enshrined within it to the 9 original hazards.

The Act will give the tenants the ability to take action against their Landlord directly. Tenant's will be able to take their Landlord to court for breach of contract in cases where a property is poorly maintained. Tenant's will be able to apply for an injunction to compel the Landlord to complete work, and/or damages (compensation).

When does the Act come in to force? 

The Act will come in to force three months from today (20/12/2018) for all new tenancies, and tenancy extensions. New and renewed periodic and secure tenancies will be brought under the scope in twelve months time.

What can I do to prepare? 

The good news is that most Landlords wouldn't dream of letting a property that was sub-standard. The vast majority of Landlords may therefore need to take no action at all. However, it's going to be more important than ever to have a thorough photographic inventory & schedule of condition report at the start of the tenancy, photographic mid-term inspection reports, and a photographic end of tenancy report. These items should help a Landlord to defend any claims issued against them as they'll provide a clear history of condition.

Tenants should be encouraged to report maintenance issues in writing, with accompanying photographic evidence (whatsapp or email is fine!).

If you're unsure about your obligations under the new Act, I'd be happy to conduct a free inspection of your property and supply some guidance on any items that may be considered a hazard.

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