The new Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 will be introduced from tomorrow giving tenants the tenants the right to sue landlords who fail to adequately maintain their properties.
The Act, which is actually an update to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, will cover all tenancies of less than seven years in length, which covers the majority.
The new law is designed to prevent tenants having to put up with unsafe or unsanitary conditions, such as damp, poor ventilation, lack of natural light and blocked drains.
So what issues can cause a property to be classed as unfit?
Asbestos & MMF
Overcrowding & Space;
Carbon Monoxide & Combustion products;
Damp & Mould growth;
Drainage & Sanitary issues;
Food Preparation & Hygiene.
Madalena Penny, founder of Penny Joseph letting agents, based in Southport, believes that not all unfit properties are reported to landlords or agents.
She said: “Of course, there are going to be tenants who refuse access for inspections. As a result, some tenants create unhealthy environments for themselves. If they do not ventilate the property properly, or adopt a habit of drying clothes indoors on radiators, condensation and moisture can build up, causing damp walls and create an unfit place to live. Obviously, this is no fault of the landlord or agent and hopefully any court being used for inappropriate litigation on behalf of a tenant will see this.”
But how can a landlord be sure that tenants are upholding their side of the tenancy, and how can a landlord know if damp is created by bad ventilation and not through building problems?
Penny continued: “It’s important that a thorough inspection is undertaken before the tenancy has begun, and that the tenant is present during the inspection and signs the inventory.
“Under the new dampness habitation law, it would be wise for landlords and agents to have a sheet outlining damp preventing tips for tenants. Having tenants sign a declaration stating their responsibility for good ventilation in properties would be wise and could be signed for at the outset of the tenancy along with their ‘How to Rent’ guide.
“I would also advise landlords to keep copies of all letters regarding tenant inspections and correspondence regarding property problems, as they can be used as proof of repair and maintenance in court.”