The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 – what to expect

This important act came into force on 20 March 2019, and gives renters the right to take action if their property is not fit for habitation.

20 March 2019

Today, Labour MP for Westminster North Karen Buck’s Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act comes into force.

The Federation has supported the Private Members’ Bill as it passed through Parliament and provided technical advice to Karen Buck and her team.

The Act will improve standards for renters across the country and strengthen their voices, introducing the following changes:

  • The Act inserts a new section 9A into the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to imply into residential tenancies (but not long leases) a covenant by the landlord that the property is fit for human habitation at the beginning of, and throughout, the tenancy.
  • The Act also implies into the tenancy a covenant by the tenant to allow the landlord access to the property, at reasonable times and subject to 24 hours’ written notice, for the purpose of viewing the condition of the property and its state of repair.
  • The definition of housing fitness is found in section 10 of the 1985 Act. The 2016 Act amends this definition to include ‘prescribed hazards’ under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System as defined in section 2 of the Housing Act 2004.

The legal mechanism created by the 2018 Act is very similar to the existing repairing covenant in section 11 of the 1985 Act. If landlords are in any doubt about their compliance with the new fitness covenant, they should treat the issue in a similar manner, and with the same urgency, as they would any potential breach of the repairing covenant.

You can read more about the background of the Act here. You can also read our blog on what the Act will mean for housing associations

If you have any questions about what this will mean for your organisation, please get in touch with John Bryant, Policy Leader