On 20 March this year, the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act came into force, and it is aimed at ensuring all rented accommodation is seen as fit for human habitation and providing redress for tenants where landlords do not keep their properties safe.
Details of the legislation covering domestic properties subject to a lease can be found at the government’s website.
Although there are no new requirements placed on landlords, the legislation requires them to meet existing responsibilities on safety and standards relating to the property. However, the new law gives tenants the right to sue when legal requirements are not met by the landlord.
The Act updates the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and applies to tenancies of less than seven years in length. This means most tenancies, such as Shorthold Assured Tenancies, will be covered by the legislation.
Several issues are identified, such as the presence of asbestos or lead, along with environmental issues including noise and lighting. Space and overcrowding in the premises may also lead to legitimate complaints from the tenant.
Utility supplies, including gas checks for carbon monoxide emissions, are mentioned, as are drainage and instability in the structure. Food preparation areas could also mean the landlord falls foul of the requirements in the rented accommodation.
Landlords may wish to consider property inventory software to avoid any issues. If you’re wondering what is property inventory software, you’ll find great information online. This will help landlords ensure that any issue that affects the property has been identified during the length of the tenancy. Tenants may not always report faults before they become major issues, which means the property owner cannot take appropriate action.
The tenant may be responsible for the faults in the structure that result in the property falling foul of the legislation – for example, by failing to properly ventilate the property resulting in damp issues.,
Ensuring an accurate inventory has been taken prior to the signing of the lease will help to avoid any issues later in the tenancy.
Most responsible landlords will be aware of the need to retain documentation during the tenancy, which will be useful if litigation occurs. The Act is designed to protect both tenants and landlords and offers protection against rogue landlords, benefiting both tenants and responsible property owners.