Homes fit for human habitation

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 comes into force on 20th March 2019. It makes amendments to the Housing Act 1985 and provides further rights for tenants where their rented property is deemed unfit for human habitation.


The 1985 Act provided that a home must be fit for human habitation at the start of the tenancy and that the landlord must keep it that way. However , it did not give the tenant the right to take action against the landlord, unless such right was contained in the tenancy agreement.

The new Act means that the requirement of fitness is implied into the tenancy agreement, so even if the agreement does not mention such matters specifically, the tenant can claim that the landlord is in breach.

The tenant can apply to the Court for an order that the landlord carry out the necessary repairs and/or damages to compensate them for the harm caused.

In deciding whether a house is unfit for human habitation, the following are considered:-

  • repair,
  • stability,
  • freedom from damp,
  • internal arrangement,
  • natural lighting,
  • ventilation,
  • water supply,
  • drainage and sanitary conveniences,
  • facilities for preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water;

The landlord is not however required to:-

(a) To carry out works for which the tenant is liable to do themselves

(b) To rebuild or reinstate the dwelling in the case of destruction or damage by fire, storm, flood etc;

(c) To keep in repair or maintain anything which the tenant is entitled to remove from the dwelling;

(d) To carry out works which may put him in breach of other laws.

Nor is the landlord liable if the tenant has caused the problem themselves.

It is hoped that most Landlords already ensure that their properties meet these requirements, but now is a good time to review matters. If you are unsure, contact our dispute resolution lawyer, Suzie Fisher for advice.

Published 20 March 2019

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