This week the Fitness for Human Habitation Act 2018 came into force in England.
The new government legislation means that tenants now have the right to sue their landlords if their property is in such poor condition, that it is considered ‘not fit for human habitation’ – unlike the original Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 where landlords were only liable for things which are in ‘disrepair’ (i.e. damaged or broken).
What is considered ‘Not fit for human habitation’?
A property will be unfit for habitation if there are serious defects in any of the following:
- Freedom from damp
- Internal arrangement
- Natural lighting
- Water supply
- Drainage and sanitary conveniences; and
- Facilities for preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water.
Should Landlords be concerned?
Good landlords will most likely have nothing to worry about but the majority of advice on the subject is suggesting that landlords should be more proactive by carrying out regular checks and inspections so as not to fall fowl of the law by waiting for tenants to complain about something.
Industry bodies recommend keeping detailed records including photographs of inspections to give clear evidence should it be needed. The Landlord Law blog gives an excellent example of how this might work:
“say you receive a complaint from a tenant saying that the property is unfit due to excessive mould and damp. If you are able to prove that the property has been let out to tenants over the past 20 years, none of whom lodged any complaint about damp and mould – then this will go a long way to back up your claim that the damp and mould is down to the tenant’s lifestyle.”
Where can I find more information?
Useful advice and details of the new legislation can be found on the following websites:
How can I be more proactive as a Landlord?
The best way to protect yourself and to provide the best accommodation for your tenants is to employ the services of a professional inventory company to carry out impartial, regular checks.
A good inventory company will be able to provide legally valid reports which will be independent of bias in a court of law and will list all information about the state of the property, not just the fixtures and fittings. This should all be backed up by photographs which will mean that as a Landlord, you will have the law on your side in the case of a dispute. Furthermore, regular Mid-Term checks should help to stop any issues getting to the point of a legal dispute by keeping the property in a permanently habitable state.
At Eclipse Inventories, we can provide detailed and accurate inventory reports, check-in and check-out reports and mid-term checks to protect you and your investment. To speak to an expert about how to protect your property or to book an inspection or check, please get in touch today.