Property Investors Blog

Fitness for Human Habitation bill becomes law

Fitness for Human Habitation bill becomes law

2018 ends with more protection for tenants

On 20th December 2018, Karen Buck’s Private Member’s Bill gained Royal Assent and is now the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act.

The new law, which makes changes to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, requires both private and social landlords to provide tenants with residential properties that are fit for human habitation.

This slim, two-page statute comes into force on 20 March 2019 and only applies to tenancies made after that date. This includes renewals or tenancies moving from fixed terms to periodic (so-called ‘rolling contracts’).

The legislation doesn’t cover tenancies that have been signed and executed before this date, even if the tenants occupy the property after 20th March.

Meanwhile, periodic tenancies signed before 20th March 2019 will be covered from 20th March 2020.

Longer fixed term tenancies, i.e. 18- or 24-month contracts, that started before 20th March 2018 will not be affected until they become periodic or are renewed.

Landlord obligations

The new law’s definition of fit for human habitation adopts the 29 hazard profiles used by the current The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSR).

If a landlord doesn’t meet these standards, tenants have the right to take legal action against them for a breach of contract.

Landlord groups have been roundly in favour of the law, as it uses existing standards.

It also protects landlords by ensuring they are not liable for any actions taken by the tenants that make the property uninhabitable.

Landlord protections

Anyone worried that tenants might head straight for the courts can stand easy. The law still requires tenants to notify landlords of any disrepairs and that landlords or their agents have an opportunity to carry out work to fix issues. It also states that tenants must allow access to the property for inspections.

Tenants will need hard evidence that the landlord has failed to effect repairs, before going to court.

The day-to-day reality of the new law is that as long as you continue to regularly inspect the property and fix maintenance reports raised by tenants, there is no reason to behave any differently than normal. Purple Frog’s managed clients will of course know that we have a large team of property managers and contractors who will keep on top of this for you.

While the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act will use the provisions ready supplied by HHSR, they are not the same thing.

While HHSR assesses notional risk in a property, Fitness for Human Habitation looks at the property in terms of the person actually living there.

This means that the law will use the 29 hazard profiles in a different way to the existing rating system. The Government has said that it will bring out guidance for local authorities before the 20th March.

Below you will find the 29 hazard profiles currently defined by HHSR.

29 HHSRS hazard profiles

Hygrothermal Conditions

1 Damp and mould growth

2 Excess cold

3 Excess heat

Pollutants (non-microbial)

4 Asbestos (and MMF)

5 Biocides

6 Carbon Monoxide and fuel combustion products

7 Lead

8 Radiation

9 Uncombusted fuel gas

10 Volatile Organic Compounds

Space, Security, Light and Noise

11 Crowding and space

12 Entry by intruders

13 Lighting

14 Noise

Hygiene, Sanitation and Water Supply

15 Domestic hygiene, Pests and Refuse

16 Food safety

17 Personal hygiene, Sanitation and Drainage

18 Water supply


19 Falls associated with baths

20 Falling on level surfaces etc.

21 Falling on stairs

22 Falling between levels

Electric Shocks, Fires, Burns and Scalds

23 Electrical hazards

24 Fire

25 Flames, hot surfaces etc.

Collisions, Cuts and Strains

26 Collision and entrapment

27 Explosions

28 Position and operability of amenities etc.

29 Structural collapse and falling elements

If you’re a landlord with student property and would like to speak to someone about how Purple Frog can help you keep up-to-date with changes in legislation and regulations, please fill in the form on our landlords page, here: https://www.purplefrogproperty.com/landlords/. One of our account managers will call to speak to you.

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