Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018
The Homes Act amends the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, with the practical implications of the legislation affecting tenancies in England only. Landlords, and letting agents acting on their behalf, will be required to ensure that a property, and its common parts, are fit for human habitation at the beginning and for the rest of a tenancy.
Tenancies that are entered into or renewed on or after 20 March 2019 will be required to comply with the Act. Existing Fixed-Term Tenancies will fall under the scope when they are renewed or become Periodic. Periodic tenancies that commenced before 20 March 2019 will come under the legislation 12 months after commencement on 19 March 2020.
From the implementation date, tenants will have the right to take their landlord or letting agent directly to Court, if they have not complied with the Act. If decided by the Court, offenders may be required to remedy any hazards and pay compensation to the tenant.
Previously, an offence was only committed where the landlord or agent had failed to comply with an Improvement Notice from the local authority. The consequence of this was that defective properties could be legally rented out unless the local authority was notified.
Landlords and agents need to be fully aware of their responsibilities; start with good inventories, keep comprehensive precise notes as evidence, respond to tenant maintenance requests and do regular visits to assess the properties and to update their records of work which might be required. The Government wants a better standard of landlord and housing in the Private Rented Sector and this is the real start, in their eyes, of redressing the balance between landlords and tenants!