Update: for Residential Landlords and their agents - Homes and Housing Standards

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill passed its second reading in Parliament recently and is now going to the Committee Stage.

It is intended to amend previous legislation and to provide that, in any residential tenancy for a term of less than 7 years, there will be an implied term that the property is fit for human habitation and will remain so throughout the tenancy.

Furthermore it is likely that there will be a presumption of fault against the landlord.

The question of whether the property is fit for human habitation will be assessed by reference to whether there is any ‘hazard’ prescribed under the Housing and Safety Rating System.

Any dampness and mould resulting from condensation is one of those prescribed hazards without regard to whether the tenant is responsible for creating the cold or damp conditions.

You are also likely to find that moneys will be made available by government to Councils and to the Legal Aid Authority to fund claims, defences and counterclaims on the part of tenants.

This might also be a convenient point at which to remind landlords and their agents of the defences that tenants can use to thwart possession claims based on Section 21 Notices.

Landlords must have provided new tenants with the correct version of the booklet, which is now in its Third Edition, called "How to Rent; the checklist for renting in England" and with an Energy Performance Certificate and any Gas Safety Certificate.

Landlords must safeguard deposits and give the prescribed information to tenants.

Landlords must use the correct form of Section 21 Notice, at the correct time and allowing sufficient time, both for service and for the notice to expire, but may not give notice in respect of property that is an unlicensed house in multiple occupation or in retaliation for an Improvement Notice from the Council.

This update is for guidance only and should not be relied upon as being legal advice. For specific advice on a particular matter please contact Nick Dark today.