Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill: The Factsheet
Karen Buck MP has introduced a Private Mem-bers Bill on housing fitness which is set to return to the House of Commons for its Report Stage on 26th October 2018. The Bill is seeking to amend the relevant sections of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. It seeks to modernise the fitness for habitation test and has cross-party support.
What does it say?
The Bill proposes to create a new duty on all residential landlords by implying a covenant into a residential tenancy to ensure that the property is fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout.Tenants will have the right to take legal action if landlords fail to keep properties in a state that is fit for human habitation.The term “fitness for human habitation” is defined in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. It states that a property is to be regarded as unfit for human habitation if it is “so far defective in one or more of those matters (set out below) that it is not reasonably suitable for occupation in that condition.”
“Tenants will have the right to take legal action if landlords fail to keep properties in a state that is fit for human habitation.”
The relevant matters are:
- Freedom from damp
- Interanal Arrangement
- Natural Lighting
- Facilities for preparation and cooking of Food
- Water Supply
- Drainage and Sanitary Conveniences
- Facilities for the disposal of waste water
The Bill will add to this list of matters “any prescribed hazard” as defined by section 2 of the Housing Act 2004. “Hazard” is defined as “any risk of harm to the health or safety of an actual occupier of a dwelling or HMO which arises from a deficiency in the dwelling or HMO”
“any risk of harm to the health or safety of an actual occupier of a dwelling or HMO which arises from a deficiency in the dwelling or HMO”
Why is it needed?
There have been longstanding concerns about property standards. The 2016/17 English Housing Survey (EHS) found that 38% of private renters lived in poor housing (defined as a home that has serious damp or mould, a Category 1 HHSRS hazard, is non-decent, or has substan-tial disrepair).
The current statutory obligations to keep properties in repair are outdated and have ceased to have eect as a result of annual rent limits (£52 or less, and £80 or less in London). The Bill will apply to all residential properties thereby bringing to an end this outdated anomale and giving back to tenants a civil remedy.
Are there any exceptions?There are some exceptions from the implied covenant to keep properties in a suitable state. Landlords will not be held liable for unfitness in certain circumstances. These include unfitness arising from:• A natural disaster• a tenant’s failure to use the dwelling in a tenant-like manner.Landlords are also not obliged to maintain property belonging to a tenant. The implied cove-nant will also only apply to leases for a term of less than 7 years or a secure, assured or intro
“The 2016/17 English Housing Survey (EHS) found that 38% of private renters lived in poor housing”