On the 13th of January 2020 the existing Pre-Action Protocol for Housing Disrepair was replaced by the Pre-Action Protocol for Housing Conditions (England). The original protocol for Disrepair is still in force throughout Wales for the time being.
The new Protocol addresses the changes that were introduced by the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, which was introduced in March 2019 and amended the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
The new Protocol introduces some minor changes, which include:
- References to ‘housing disrepair’ are replaced by ‘housing conditions’ throughout.
- References to ‘repairs’ are replaced by ‘works’.
- Amendments to the Letter of Claim
Since March 2019, all landlords (or agents acting on their behalf) in England have had to ensure their rental properties are fit for human habitation at the beginning of and throughout the tenancy.
If they are not, the Act gives tenants powers to take landlords to court for breach of contract, force them to carry out improvement works and also to claim compensation. Landlords can potentially be sued for damages for the entire length of the contract.
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 section 10 (as amended) provides a list of 10 issues that should be used to assess whether a property is fit for habitation. These include:
- Internal arrangement
- Natural lighting
- Water supply
- Drainage and sanitary conveniences
- Facilities for preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water
- Any prescribed hazard (dwellings in England only)