Housing Disrepair: Is your home fit for human habitation? Did you know that up until 2019 there was no requirement for a rental property to be fit for human habitation! Unbelievable, right?……but it’s true.
With more and more people renting, rather than buying you would expect the quality of properties to be exceptional. However, renting in both social and private sectors is generally not fit for purpose, and hasn’t been for over a generation. More and more tenants live in a state of disrepair.
Last night ITV News at 10 included a segment by Daniel Hewitt, Political Correspondent on what was billed as “The Worst I’ve ever seen’: The appalling and ‘unlivable’ council housing conditions some have endured during lockdown”. In the report Daniel met with 2 tenants living at High rise flats in Croydon, South London in appalling housing conditions, plagued by leaks, mould, damp and dangerous electrics. The damage was so bad that Shelter, the UK’s biggest housing charity described the living conditions as the “worst they had ever seen”
Far too many tenants live with Housing disrepair and in unsafe conditions. According to statistics over 1 million private and social tenancies which home about 2.5 to 3 million people, including children have Category 1 hazards “serious and immediate risk to a person’s health and safety” and do not currently meet the government’s ‘decent homes’ standards. These figures have been pretty much static for the last few years.
As a father myself, it was heart-breaking and upsetting to watch the tenants living in these conditions with young children.
A parent always wants the best for their children and to listen to one of the tenants interviewed describe her situation as “hopeless” and her treatment by the local authority making her feel “not even human” was heart wrenching
On 20 December 2018, the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill received royal assent and became an Act which will come into force on 20 March 2019. The Act is much needed legislation requiring homes to be ‘fit for human habitation’ at the start of the tenancy and to remain so throughout.
Where a tenant complains of housing disrepair relating to for example, water ingress, dampness, mould, condensation, draughts, heating or drainage and fire risks and providing that the landlord has failed to take any action to carry out repairs within a reasonable period of time, the tenant can bring a claim to make the landlord carry out works by way of an order for Specific Performance and for damages. Whilst, such rights already exist under the Landlord and Tenant Act, what’s new is that the landlord must now also ensure that the house or dwelling is fit for human habitation.
The Act will also cover infestation such as rodents, insects, bed bugs, not currently covered by a landlord’s legal repair responsibilities.
The obligation to ensure that the house or dwelling is, and stays fit, for human habitation extends even to common parts of the building in which the landlord has an interest so for example this would cover stairwells, shared roofs, communal bin areas etc.
It should be remembered that under the Landlord and Tenant Act there is an implied covenant that the tenant give access to the landlord or to their surveyor for the purposes of viewing and inspecting the condition and the state of repair of the property, providing at least 24 hours’ notice in writing has been given.
Whilst it can seem that there is no light at the end of the tunnel, there is help available through Citizens Advice and other organisations for those affected by Housing Disrepair. Cromptons Solicitors represent clients across the country on No Win No Fee arrangements in a bid to improve access to justice. We have helped hundreds of clients and have had the pleasure of seeing the difference we have made to families. We are passionate about what we do and offer free advice and will stand by you to get you the help you deserve.
If you require any further information, please get in touch with Altaf Patel or our Housing Disrepair team on 01204 589009 or alternatively drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.