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The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act is now law!

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act is now law!

Karen Buck MP introduced a Private Members Bill on housing fitness and it received Royal Assent on the 20th December 2018 following agreement by both houses. The Bill is now an Act of Parliament which makes it law.

The act uses the 29 hazards listed in the HHSRS created in 2006 to help define the categories that determine whether a house is “fit for human habitation”.

The list was originally created to help local authorities enforce conditions in the private rented sector. It’s now a list that lettings agents, property managers and landlords also need to be aware of far as the safety and fitness for human habitation of their properties are concerned.

Hazards are assessed separately and can be classed as Category 1 or Category 2. Category 1 is a serious and immediate risk to a person’s health and safety. A less serious or urgent hazard is classed as Category 2.

The below HHSRS Checklist is for Landlords and agents to use when they need to ensure a property is fit for human habitation:

  1. Damp and mould Growth
  2. Excess cold
  3. Excess heat
  4. Asbestos & MMF
  5. Biocides
  6. Carbon monoxide and fuel combustion products
  7. Lead
  8. Radiation
  9. Uncombusted fuel gas
  10. Volatile organic compounds
  11. Crowding and space
  12. Entry by intruders
  13. Lighting
  14. Noise
  15. Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse
  16. Food safety
  17. Sanitation and drainage problems
  18. Water supply
  19. Falls associated with baths
  20. Falls on level surfaces
  21. Falls associated with stairs and ramps
  22. Falls between level
  23. Electrical hazrads
  24. Fire
  25. Flames, hot surfaces and materials
  26. Collision and entrapment
  27. Explosions
  28. Ergonomics
  29. Structural collapse and falling elements

Why is it needed?

The 2016/17 English Housing Survey (EHS) found that 38% of private renters lived in poor housing. This was defined as a house that has serious damp or mould, a Category 1 HHSRS hazard, is non-decent or has substantial disrepair.

The Statutory obligations to keep properties in repair were outdated and had ceased to have effect as a result of annual rent limits. The Act applies to all residential properties thereby bringing an end to this outdated issue and giving back a civil remedy to tenants.

What does it mean?

The Act creates a new duty for all residential landlords by implying a covenant into a residential tenancy to ensure the property is fit for human habitation at the beginning and throughout.

“Tenants will have the right to take legal action if landlords fail to keep properties in a fit state for human habitation”

What are the relevant matters?

A property is regarded as unfit for human habitation if it is “so far defective in one or more those matters that is not reasonably suitable for occupation in that condition.” The bill will add to the below list of matters as defined by section 2 of the housing act 2014

The relevant matters are:

  • Repair
  • Stability
  • Freedom from damp
  • Internal arrangement
  • Natural lighting
  • Facilities for preparation and cooking of food
  • Water supply
  • Drainage and sanitary conveniences
  • Ventilation
  • Facilities for the disposal of waste water

If you have any questions regarding this or for general letting advice get in touch with Philip Ellis Estate Agents Manchester!


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