The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 came into effect on 20th March 2019 and applies to both the social and private rented sectors to ensure that all properties are fit for human habitation throughout any tenancy.
To comply with the legislation, landlords must take the necessary measures to ensure that their properties are free of any hazards that would deem a property unfit for occupancy.
In the case that a landlord fails to meet their obligations to provide a safe and healthy home, their tenant has the right to take legal action for breach of contract. If the court determines that a landlord has not provided a home that is fit for human habitation, a landlord may be told to take the appropriate action to reduce or remove the hazard and/or damages or pay compensation to their tenant.
The landlord is considered responsible for the repairs or maintenance as soon as they have been notified of the hazard by their tenant. The time to deal with the hazard is dependent on the circumstances of the risk, so landlords are given a reasonable amount of time to rectify the issue. However, if it is seen that a landlord has not put measures in place to remedy the hazard, a tenant is entitled to proceed with legal action. It is therefore recommended for landlords to fix any reported hazards, as soon as possible.
The legislation also requires compliance with the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). The HHSRS is a risk based evaluation tool that provides guidance for landlords in relation to the safety of their housing stock, outlining the hazards and disrepair to be avoided.