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:
- Damp and mould Growth
- Excess cold
- Excess heat
- Asbestos & MMF
- Carbon monoxide and fuel combustion products
- Uncombusted fuel gas
- Volatile organic compounds
- Crowding and space
- Entry by intruders
- Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse
- Food safety
- Sanitation and drainage problems
- Water supply
- Falls associated with baths
- Falls on level surfaces
- Falls associated with stairs and ramps
- Falls between level
- Electrical hazrads
- Flames, hot surfaces and materials
- Collision and entrapment
- 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The Statutory obligations to keep properties in repair were outdated and had ceased to have effect as a result of annual rent limits. The Act applies to all residential properties thereby bringing an end to this outdated issue and giving back a civil remedy to tenants.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:
- Freedom from damp
- Internal arrangement
- Natural lighting
- Facilities for preparation and cooking of food
- Water supply
- Drainage and sanitary conveniences
- 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!