Landlord Legislation 2019 | New Landlord Rules

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7 Mar 2019

The Homes Fitness for Habitation Act has now come into force

Author: Grace Watson

Whilst there is already a number of strict rules for landlords when it comes to gas and electrical safety, the government has recently announced that landlords in England will soon be subject to new legislation aiming to boost the standard of rented homes for the health, safety and welfare of tenants.

The Homes (Fitness for Habitation) Act has now come into force. The Act revives a clause which already exists in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, by inserting an implied covenant requiring all rented homes to be ‘fit for human habitation’ at the start of the tenancy and to remain so throughout. It also applies to communal areas. This means that tenants will have additional rights to request improvements to sub-standard rental homes and will be less reliant on local authorities, whose resource for this type of work is variable.

The clause had become defunct as it only applied to properties let on what have become outdated rent levels (i.e. less than £80/year in London and £52/year elsewhere).

So, what does ‘fit for human habitation’ mean?

The Act uses 29 ‘hazards’ listed in the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to determine whether a house is ‘fit for human habitation’. This rating system was devised so that local authorities could enforce living standards across the private rented sector. The hazards include:

  • Condensation, damp and mould growth
  • Excessive cold or heat
  • Security (or lack, thereof)
  • Fire, gas and electrical safety
  • Natural lighting
  • Water supply
  • Sanitation
  • Facilities for preparing and cooking food
  • Hazards posed by the internal arrangement
  • State of repair

How do I know if my property is deemed to be ‘unfit’?

A property will be ruled to be unfit “If, and only if, it is so far defective in one or more of those matters that it is not reasonably suitable for occupation in that condition.”

If you are a conscientious landlord, the chances of your falling short on delivering suitable rental homes, ‘fit for human habitation’ are minor. However, Romans’ extensive team of Property Managers are able to help maintain your properties, stay on top of changing legislation and ensure that your obligations as a responsible landlord are fulfilled, especially in areas including gas, safety and electrical compliance.

What are the benefits of having my property fully managed?

There is a common misconception amongst landlords that paying for a managing agent reduces the profitability of your portfolio. However, with lettings legislation seemingly constantly under review, the value of a managing agent – particularly for landlords with multiple properties – can be immeasurable.

From arranging gas and electrical safety checks to attending regular property visits and creating condition reports, your property manager is a dedicated contact assigned to your property. With your best interests in mind, not only will they help you to maintain a property that far exceeds the ‘fit for human habitation’ criteria, they can act quickly if issues – large or small – ever do arise.

Want to find out more about the Fitness for Human Habitation Act, or our award-winning Property Management services? Speak to one of your local Romans property experts, or call 01344 985 870.

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