New legislation aiming to improve the standard of domestic rented accommodation came into force on 20 March 2019.
The snappily titled Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 (the Act) applies to social and private rented accommodation in England.
The Act requires landlords to ensure that at the beginning of and throughout a tenancy, the property and any common parts are free from hazards or defects that would render a property unfit for human habitation. The Act also strengthens tenants’ means of redress against landlords who fail in their obligations.
The Act applies to tenancies of less than 7 years granted on or after 20 March 2019, new secure, assured and introductory tenancies on or after 20 March 2019 and tenancies renewed for a fixed term on or after 20 March 2019.
Landlords will not be required to remedy unfitness caused by tenant behaviour or possessions, where the problem is caused by an act of god or where the tenant is not an individual (eg. local authorities, national parks etc).
If a landlord fails to comply with the Act tenants have the right to take court action for breach of contract.
The court may decide that a landlord is in breach of the Act where a property is neglected, unstable, there are problems with damp, not enough light or ventilation or where there are problems with the provision or suitability of sanitation.
If the court decides that the landlord has failed in his obligation it can order the landlord to pay compensation to the tenant or to carry out the necessary works to improve the property.
In addition to the tenant seeking redress through the courts, local authorities have enforcement powers in relation to the Act.
For property advice please contact our team in either Oxford (01865 244 661) or Bicester (01869 252 244).