Government Releases Homes Act Guidance
The UK Government has published operating guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities on how to comply with the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.
Guidance has been provided ahead of 20 March 2019, when the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, known as the Homes Act, comes into force.
The Homes Act amends the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, with the practical implications of the legislation affecting tenancies in England only. Landlords, and letting agents acting on their behalf, will be required to ensure that a property, and its common parts, are fit for human habitation at the beginning and for the rest of a tenancy.
Tenancies that are entered into or renewed on or after 20 March will be required to comply with the Act. Existing Fixed-Term Tenancies will fall under the scope when they are renewed or become Periodic. Periodic tenancies that commenced before 20 March 2019 will come under the legislation 12 months after commencement on 20 March 2020.
From the implementation date, tenants will have the right to take their landlord or letting agent directly to Court, if they have not complied with the Act. If decided by the Court, offenders may be required to remedy any hazards and pay compensation to the tenant.
Previously, an offence was only committed where the landlord or agent had failed to comply with an Improvement Notice from the local authority. The consequence of this was that defective properties could be legally rented out unless the local authority was notified. Furthermore, social tenants had even less protection, as local authorities cannot take themselves to Court.
It is advised that property managers are ensuring that homes are meeting the standard of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), and conducting property checks with the tenant’s permission to monitor any required maintenance.