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Landlords: new ‘fit for human habitation’ legislation coming into force soon

A new act requiring all property rented out by a landlord to meet a 'fit for human habitation' checklist will become law in March this year.

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 means all social and private landlords (or agents acting on their behalf) must ensure properties are up to scratch when it comes to factors including freedom from damp, repair, stability and ventilation.

If the property is deemed unfit for human habitation, tenants will have a right under the new act - which amends the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 - to take landlords to court.

Aim to improve living conditions

Most landlords should have nothing to worry about in respect of the new act as a reasonably maintained property should not be deemed unfit.

But the new legislation is seen as a massive breakthrough for tenants of bad landlords - and there are currently thought to be more than one million rented homes in the UK which pose a serious threat to the health or safety of those who live in them - and should help lead to an improvement in living conditions.

Previously, if a landlord failed to respond to a tenant's request for repairs, it was up to the council to enforce the law. This entailed awaiting feedback from environmental health offices who checked the property for hazards before going down the prosecution route.

When will the Act come into force?

It is scheduled to come into force on 20 March this year (2019), covering all tenancies less than seven years in length in both the private and social rented sectors.

It will be extended to new and renewed periodic and secure tenancies in 12 months' time, ie 20 March 2020.

Are there any exemptions?

Tenancies that are for more than seven years are not covered by the new act.

Cautionary note

When it comes to sitting tenants and regulated tenancies, it is important that private landlords are aware of the new act's provisions especially where repair and modernisation may have been limited.

For specialist legal help and advice on this area of the law, please contact Wards Solicitors' James Murray.

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