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Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act

Our People - Navin Bundhoo
13 January, 2020

Since the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act came into force on 20 March 2019, rented houses and flats have to be ‘fit for human habitation’. This means from the outset, the landlords must ensure that the rented property is safe, healthy and free from things that could cause serious harm to the tenants.

This legislation, is designed to help tenants make sure irresponsible landlords improve their properties as there are many tenants who currently live in dangerous or unhealthy conditions.

What can tenants do if their home is not ‘fit for human habitation’?

If the property being rented is not ‘fit for human habitation’, the tenants can take their landlords to Court. The Court can then order the landlord to carry out the repairs or put right health and safety problems. The court can also order the landlord to pay compensation to the tenant depending on the severity of the situation.

Can tenants rely on the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act if they signed their tenancy agreement before 20 March 2019? 

No, tenants can only use the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act if they signed their tenancy agreement on or after 20 March 2019, regardless of the date they moved into the new property. 

If the tenants signed their contract before 20 March 2019, then they will have to wait until 20 March 2020 before they can use the Homes Act (unless they sign a new tenancy or their tenancy becomes a monthly rolling contract).

What can tenants do in the meanwhile if their rented property is not ‘fit for human habitation’? 

If the property being rented is not ‘fit for human habitation’ and the tenancy agreement was signed before 20 March 2019, tenants can still approach their local council if they are worried about the conditions of their home. They local council have powers to take action on behalf of the tenants, at no additional costs to the tenants.

Are there any tenants who can’t use the Homes Act?

The Homes Act only applies to tenants with tenancy agreements in England. It does not cover tenants who have ‘licences to occupy’ instead of tenancy agreements, these include lodgers and some tenants who live in temporary accommodation.

Is the landlord always responsible for fixing the issues?

Exceptions where the landlord is not responsible for fixing the problems:

  • Issues caused by the tenant’s behaviour
  • Events like fires, storms and floods which are completely beyond the landlord’s control (sometimes called ‘acts of God’)
  • The landlord will not repair tenants’ possessions or furniture belonging to previous tenants
  • If the landlord hasn’t been able to get permission from certain other people such as the local council if planning permission is needed.

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