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Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018; Now in Force in England. 20th March 2019

Posted on March 20th, 2019

Introduced to raise the standards of living for tenants.

Landlords have no new obligations as part of this Act, however, landlords must meet existing responsibilities with regards to property standards/safety or risk legal action being taken against them by their tenant.

Any privately rented home must be fit to live in at the start of the tenancy and throughout. This includes common parts of a shared building. The landlord is considered responsible from the point in which a hazard is reported to them by the tenant. However, if the hazard is in the common part of a shared building (eg in a HMO or block of flats), the landlord would be immediately liable. The landlord has a reasonable amount of time to deal with the hazard. If a landlord is aware of a hazard and is not actively attempting to remedy it, the tenant can take their landlord to court.

The rules apply to all new tenancies including renewals from 20th march 2019. Existing tenancies which were periodic before this date will need to comply from 20 March 2020.

There are exceptions. The landlord will not be required to remedy unfitness when:  
– the problem is caused by tenant behaviour
– the problem is caused by events like fires, storms and floods which are completely beyond the landlord’s control (sometimes called ‘acts of God’)
– the problem is caused by the tenants’ own possessions
– the landlord hasn’t been able to get consent e.g. planning permission, permission from freeholders etc. There must be evidence of reasonable efforts made.
– the tenant is not an individual, e.g. local authorities, national parks, housing associations, educational institutions
The Act does not cover people who have ‘licences to occupy’, instead of tenancy agreements. This may include lodgers (people who live with their landlord) some people who live in temporary accommodation, and some, but not all, property guardians.


Who enforces this? The legislation allows for the tenant to bring court action directly without first involving the local authority. A judge will decide whether a property is unfit for human habitation based on evidence. The judge will make their assessment based on repairs, stability, damp, internal arrangement, natural lighting, ventilation, water supply, drainage, facilities for food preparation and hazards (under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System).

It is hoped that this Act will level the playing field for good landlords who maintain homes fit for human habitation by ensuring they are not undercut by landlords who persistently flout their responsibilities.

For further information;



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