Tenants will soon be able to take court action for unfit habitation

By 13th March 2020 Disputes No Comments

As of 20th March 2020, tenants – both private and social – will be able to sue their landlord if their property is unsafe. The Fitness for Human Habitation Act will be extended to apply to existing statutory periodic tenancies in England.

The act was introduced in March 2019 and the new legislation will amend the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to make sure properties are fit for human habitation from the start of the tenancy and throughout the time the tenant lives in the property.

Landlords will not be held responsible for unsafe conditions caused by the tenant’s actions, but they will have to ensure the property is free of serious hazards which could suggest that the accommodation is not suitable for occupation.

Section 10 was amended to add:

In determining for the purposes of this Act whether a house or dwelling is unfit for human habitation, regard shall be had to its condition in respect of the following matters:

  • Natural lighting
  • Ventilation
  • Internal arrangements
  • Water supply
  • Repairs
  • Stability
  • Damp
  • Drainage and sanitary conveniences
  • Facilities for preparation and cooking food
  • Facilities for the disposal of waste water
  • Hazards under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.

If landlords fail to provide a safe home, the Act allows tenants to take court action for breach of contract directly, without involving the council. Informal letters from the council can still be used by a tenant but they are not required before court action can be taken

Bringing court actions directly without involving the council, allows the judge to decide if the property is unfit for human habitation based on the tenant’s evidence. The court can require the landlord to pay compensation to the tenant, pay the tenant’s costs or do the necessary repairs.

Find more details about the Fitness for Human Habitation Act here.

Read the 29 problems that could make your house unfit to live in here.

Speak to our Landlord & Tenant Disputes team for personalised advice.