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.
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.
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