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Fitness For Human Habitation Act Explained

29 May 2019

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In 2018, Parliament passed the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act. Rather than being an entirely new law, it’s an extension of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, and was created to improve the quality of rented property in the UK from a health and safety perspective.

With the new law coming into place a couple of months ago, many Landlords feel uncertain about how, if at all, the law affects them.

In this blog post, we’re taking a look at the detail of the Act, how it impacts Landlords and how our Fully Managed Service will make sure that, you’re never stung with a fine.

What is the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018?

Passed in 2018, but enforced from 20th March 2019, it focuses on ensuring that rented houses and apartments are “fit for human habitation.” The law was implemented in an effort to make all rented homes in the UK safe, healthy and free from things that could lead to serious harm.

Delving further into the detail, the new Act adopts the 29 hazards which were set out in the Housing Health and Safety (England) Regulations 2005 making them legal definitions for .

Landlords should note that there are no completely new obligations under the act and most will already be in line with the below points; it’s designed to make it easier for Tenants to take action if their Landlord isn’t meeting the necessary standards.

The criteria include:

    Damp and mould growth

    Excess cold

    Excess heat

    Asbestos and manufactured metal fibres

    Biocides (chemicals that treat mould)

    Carbon monoxide

    Lead

    Radiation (from radon gas, which is airborne or in water)

    Uncombusted fuel gas (leaks in gas appliances)

    Volatile organic compounds (chemicals which are gases at room temperature)

    Crowding and space

    Entry by intruders (such as not having a lock on your front door)

    Lighting

    Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse (including inadequate provision for disposal of wastewater and household waste)

    Noise

    Food safety

    Personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage

    Water supply

    Falls associated with bath or shower

    Falls associated with stairs and steps

    Falls on the level (danger of falling on a flat surface)

    Falls between levels (danger of falling from one level to another, for example, falls out of windows)

    Electrical hazards

    Fire and fire safety

    Hot surfaces and materials

    Collision and entrapment

    Explosions

    Physical strain associated with operating amenities (i.e. very heavy doors)

    Structural collapse and falling elements

Who will it apply to?

The Act will apply to the vast majority of Landlords, including:

·         Tenancies that are shorter than 7 years old.

·         New assured and introductory tenancies,

·         Tenancies renewed for a fixed term and all periodic tenancies.

 

Why is the Law Necessary?

Although the government conceded that most Landlords are already providing the necessary health and safety standards, a small percentage of Landlords don’t, and it was felt that the Law was previously weighted in their favour, rather than the Tenants.

It’s because of this small group of Landlords that the Act was deemed necessary, and although that may seem unfair, responsible Landlords who work with a reputable Property Management Company won’t have to make any dramatic changes and should be covered.

Manning Stainton clients who use our Fully Managed Service can rest assured that our Property Management team have received extensive training in the new law, so you’ll never have to worry about being affected by the new law.

What are the consequences if a Landlord doesn’t comply?

The Act makes it much easier for local authorities to punish “Rogue Landlords” who don’t adhere to the new clearly defined standards. As a result, fines of up to £30,000 can be handed out, without having to go through extensive legal channels. What’s more, Tenants living in subpar conditions could be eligible for rent reimbursements of up to 12 months.

Although the new law has only been in place for a month, fines are being issued frequently. Recently, local authorities in the UK have issued fines in excess of £20,000. Consequently, it’s important that your property is in line with the 29 points. If you’re not sure, make sure to ask your Property Manager, or inspect your property thoroughly yourself.

What exceptions are there?

There are a number of exceptions to the Act, which have been included to avoid unfair judgements against responsible Landlords. For example, the problem was caused by Tenant behaviour, their own possessions or the issue can be deemed an “act of God” beyond the Landlords control (fires, floods etc.)

What do Landlords need to do to make sure they comply?

If you’re a Landlord and are concerned about the new law, the first step is to make sure that your property is in line with the 29 points. If you use our Fully Managed Service, don’t worry, these points are standard parts of our regular checks. What’s more, if we do find any potential breaches, we’ll take steps to bring your property inline quickly and efficiently, so that you’ll never have to worry about facing legal action.

Find out more about our Fully Managed Service.

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