Housing Disrepair & Private Tenants

In March 2019, the Homes (Fitness For Human Habitation) Act 2018 came into force and it changed the law in favour of tenants in that it widened the scope of disrepair that landlords had to lawfully deal with.

It is an important tool for use by a tenant to ensure that landlords take their repairing obligations seriously. Prior to the introduction of the Act, a tenant had to put up with various unpleasant and annoying living conditions that had previously not been covered by any contractual obligation or law.

The housing charity Shelter simplifies the effect of the new law by describing it as "a tenant can ask for compensation when the landlord fails to carry out repairs within a reasonable time once they have been reported." If a home has been unfit to live in due to the disrepair, an award of money might be made to compensate for the landlord's failure to keep the property in a decent and fit condition to live in.

It is no secret that housing disrepair is a real problem in the UK for many tenants no matter who the landlord is. This is why this new law could help raise living standards in the rental sector.

Dean Carpenter from KLS Law is experienced in this area of law, so we asked him a few questions about the Act.

  • Why has the law changed in relation to Housing Disrepair?

The Homes (Fitness For Human Habitation) Act 2018 came into force on the 20th March 2019. This means that any tenancies granted after this date can rely on it in order to improve the living conditions in a property. Prior to the act, there was no legal obligation on landlords to put or keep the property in a condition 'fit for habitation'. There were some repairing obligations on the landlord but this Act widens the areas of disrepair to cover things like inadequate safety and poor heating/ventiliation (causing condensation or mould) etc.

  • How do you think this will impact the housing sector as a whole?

Tenants will no longer have to put up with landlords turning a blind eye to poor accommodation. There is no excuse that a landlord can use to avoid dedicating time and money to improving living conditions in their property. I truly believe that tenants will get more justice and landlords will be held accountable for the house they rent.

  • Who has the right to pursue a claim?

Anyone who rents a property from a landlord for the purposes of using it as a home will be able to rely on the Act when raising matters of this nature. If you believe you have a claim, or just wish to discuss whether you might have a claim, contact us immediately and we will try to assist you.

  • Why is it important to pursue a claim if you are a victim of Housing Disrepair?

Regardless of your financial or employment status, your right to a home that is fit to live in is the same. With current pressures on a household's finances, every penny counts. Therefore, if we as tenants are paying for a service with our hard earned money, we want to make sure that we are getting what we pay for. That is, a home that we are happy to live in.

There are so many other instances in life where you would not tolerate a poor or unacceptable product or service, so why should you when it comes to your home.

It will not only be you who benefits from taking action now to improve your living conditions; it will benefit anyone who may rent the property after you. In this way, we can all play a part in improving living conditions for tenants for years to come.

  • How much can you expect to claim for Housing Disrepair?

I understand that one of the concerns for a tenant who is considering taking on their landlord will be the amount of compensation that may be awarded. It is difficult to pinpoint a specific figure as each case is different and we can discuss this with individual tenants as needed. Things like the amount of inconvenience caused by the disrepair, the upset caused and the amount of money spent by the tenant trying to put it right or mask it will be taken into account when considering the correct level of compensation.

Of course, compensation is not the main motivator here, tenants just want to know that repairs are going to be carried out and that they can continue to enjoy their home. We can apply to the Court for an Order that repairs are carried out and, if successful, the Court will specify a time frame in which the landlord must comply.

If your is landlord failing to make essential repairs on your home or you have been living in a home that is in disrepair for a while contact our team now for a free, no obligation consultation on what your rights are.