The Human Habitation Act 2018: A Guide for Landlords

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  • The Human Habitation Act 2018: A Guide for Landlords

The Human Habitation Act is a new Act that is in place. In respect of most tenancies but after the 20th of March 2020. It now applies to all periodic tenancies as well.

The Act has wide ranging consequences for landlords. They need to understand and be aware of what their responsibilities are. The most controversial part of the Law allows tenants to take legal action in Court. This will be for breach of contract if the property is in a poor condition.

Properties will be measured by:

State of repair

Stability

Freedom from damp

Internal arrangement

Natural lighting

Ventilation Water supply

Drainage Sanitary conveniences

Facilities for storing, preparing and cooking food

The disposal of water waste

The extension that takes place on the 20th March 2020 incorporates all properties. It will now not be acceptable for landlords not to carry out works.

We now give guidance and advice to landlords of domestic rented properties. About the minimum standards that are required to let property under the terms of this Act. It is designed to ensure properties are fit for habitation. It gives compensation for tenants against landlords who do not fulfil their obligations.

There are no legislation’s under the terms of this Act but they reinforce existing ones. The legislation requires landlords to ensure they are meeting their responsibility. This includes property and safety standards.

Under the current Act of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985. All landlords must ensure that their properties including any common parts are fit for human habitation. Not only at the beginning of the tenancies but throughout. The Act states there is an implied agreement between tenant and landlord. This implication i that the property will be fit for human habitation.

The whole idea of the Act is to support most good landlords. These are ones who maintain their properties. Landlords do not maintain them will have penalties imposed. Landlords who do not maintain safe properties. This is to prevent the operation of a competitive rental market. The Act provides for more means for tenants to seek redress by giving them the power to hold their landlord to account.

The Government expects standards to improve with the provision of this Act. Tenants will be empowered to take action against their landlord. The Government believe this creates a level playing field for most landlords.

What is the overview of the Act?

The Act applies to all private rental sectors as well as social housing. It makes it clear that landlords must ensure their properties are fit for Human habitation. To achieve this landlords will need to make sure that their property is free from hazards. Which are so serious that the dwelling is not suitable for occupation in that condition. Most landlords take their responsibility seriously and will do this, but some do not.

Where a landlord fails to do so the tenant has the right to act at the Courts for breach of contract. This would be on the grounds that the property is unfit for Human Habitation. The remedies available are an order by the court. This may require the landlord to act. Or to remove a hazard. They may give compensation. It depends on whether the property is fit for human habitation.

Who can apply to the courts for such an order? Who will it benefit?

The Act takes into account tenancies shorter than seven years that are granted on or after the 20th March 2019. New secure and assured shortholds and introductory tenancies after the 20th March 2019.

Tenancies renewed for a fixed term on or after the 20th March 2019

From the 20th March 2020 the Act applies to all tenancies that started before the 20th March 2019. This comes into force with every property.

Are there any exceptions?

The landlord is not required to remedy unfit homes when the following occurs:

(a) The problem is caused by the tenant’s behaviour

(b) The problem is caused by events like fire, storm, and floods. These are completely beyond the landlord’s control. They are called acts of god.

(c) The problem is caused by the tenants own possessions.

(d) The landlord hasn’t been able to get consent e.g. planning or permission from the freeholder. You have to provide evidence of all reasonable efforts to gain possession.

(e) The tenant is not an individual i.e. local authority, national park, housing association or educational institution.

(f) The Act does not cover people who have licence to occupy instead of tenancy agreements. This may include lodgers i.e. people who live with their landlord. They also cover people who live in temporary accommodation.

When can tenants start to use the Act?

The Act is already in force and started from the 20th March 2019. It now encompasses all tenancies from the 20th March 2020.

What is the situation with complying with the Act?

If a landlord fails to follow the Act tenants have the right to take court action for breach of contract. The court decides if the landlord has not provided the tenant with a home that is fit for human habitation.

The court can:

  1. Make the landlord pay compensation to their tenant
  2. Make the landlord do all the necessary works to improve the property. If the tenant seeks redress through the courts this does not stop the local authority from using its enforcement powers. Local authorities have enforcement power. They have the power to take illegal practices when landlords aren’t carrying out works.

What is the criteria of “the Fitness for Human Habitation?”

The courts will decide whether a property is fit for human habitation by considering matters that are set out within the Act. They are:

  1. The building is neglected and is in a bad condition
  2. The building is unstable
  3. There is a serious problem with damp
  4. It has an unsafe layout
  5. If there is not enough natural light
  6. There is not enough ventilation
  7. Also if there is a problem with the supply of hot and cold water
  8. Any problems with the drainage or the lavatory
  9. It is difficult to prepare and cook food or wash up

There are also 29 hazards as set out in the Housing Health and Safety regulations 2005. There is a housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS).

Landlords can carry out an assessment if they wish to establish whether a serious health and safety hazard is present. The court may make decisions on unfit lists without expert evidence.

How long do landlords have to fix a problem?

Landlord are responsible when they know of the hazard by the tenant. Any hazard located in common parts of flats or houses. These are mainly multiple occupation. This would make the landlord immediately liable.

The landlord will have a reasonable amount of time to deal with the hazard.  Once the landlord is actively attempting to remedy the hazard. The tenant will not be able to take their landlord to court. It is for the Court to decide on how long the landlord must deal with this. This is usually a reasonable time. If the tenant tells them about a problem that is in a common part, then you are to bring it to the freeholder’s attention.

What happens if my tenant does not let me in?

In the case of repairing a property to make it fit for Human Habitation states the landlord should give 24 hours’ notice to the tenants. The visit should take place within reasonable hours. This means for most people not too late or too early in the morning.

Landlords can enter the property on a short notice. It will be down to the terms of the tenancy. If the tenant does not give access the landlord should seek legal advice. The courts can grant those rights of entry.

Penalties – what happens if I don’t comply with the Act?

The courts will decide. They then may need the following:

  1. a) Compulsory improvement to the condition of the property
  2. b) Compensation to the tenant
  3. c) Unfortunately, there are no specified limits on the level of compensation. It is at the discretion of the judge.
  4. d) Factors taken into account will be the perceived harm that has been affected on the tenants. The longevity of the issue and the severity of the unfitness. Legal costs
  5. e) Return all the rent that they have received for the property.

What are the local authority’s powers and what happens on retaliatory evictions?

The local authority have the ability to use their enforcement powers if a tenant in private rental sector seeks redress. The landlord cannot serve an eviction notice on an AST unless they have complied with their legal obligations. Click here to refer to our previous article regarding notices.

There are protections against retaliatory eviction. Provided under the De-Regulation Act 2015. Which will still be available to tenants if local authorities have taken certain actions under the Housing Act 2004. There may be circumstances where local authorities deem it necessary to take enforcement under the Housing Act 2004. This will protect the tenants against unfair eviction that they have raised under a legitimate complaint. Landlords must maintain the property. It is thus important that landlords are aware of their obligations in this regard.

Click here for further information.

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Cat Westmacott
Cat Westmacott
17:57 10 Jun 24
Generally helpful for Lettings. As with any company, sometimes need a push for a response, but often easier to speak on the phone than email. Feeling hopeful for the next year’s contract with Harringtons🤞.
Kirsty Turner
Kirsty Turner
20:50 04 Jun 24
Great experience. Everyone is so lovely and helpful over the phone at Harringtons! The best experience we have had with a letting agent in Brighton, none of the other agents in Brighton have been bothered to keep in touch and help us find a property as much as these guys. A special shoutout to the lovely lady who showed me around the flat (Georgie I believe -sorry if I got that wrong), great at answering all my questions and been very lucky in securing the first property we viewed with her (an amazing spacious flat that has everything we need - including nice storage space for our paddleboards!) Looking forward to moving into our seaside home. Thank you!
Shadan B
Shadan B
23:31 30 May 24
Great experience, very helpful staff and friendly. I wish you all the success. Thanks for your care. 💐😊
Rachel Roberts
Rachel Roberts
21:13 30 May 24
Best experience I've had with a letting agent!
Charley Besant
Charley Besant
10:25 30 May 24
So far the process with Harringtons has been amazing. We viewed 3 properties with Georgie and each time she was so informative and kind, she gave us the time we needed in each property to look around, take videos and ask questions about everything. The whole process has been easy so far and I can now happily say we found our property thanks to Georgie and the team at Harringtons.
Ainhoa Negro
Ainhoa Negro
09:15 30 May 24
Georgie at Harringtons Lettings in Brighton has been exceptional throughout my rental process. From the very beginning, her professionalism and friendliness stood out. She provided clear and prompt communication, ensuring all my questions were answered thoroughly. Georgie made the entire experience seamless, from viewing properties to finalizing the paperwork. Her attention to detail and genuine care for my needs made me feel confident and supported. I highly recommend Georgie and Harringtons Lettings to anyone looking for a top-notch rental experience in Brighton.
PRBL1
PRBL1
09:11 30 May 24
Joel Starcross
Joel Starcross
15:22 29 May 24
Beth has been an excellent agent, great communicator and enthusiastic member of the team. Highly recommended!
Jess Pond
Jess Pond
13:16 29 May 24
Had an absolutely awful experience with this company. Told me one thing on the phone and then told me another thing on email. Very mixed messages. Left 7 students homeless by putting the house back on the market with only 24 hour notice. Will never use them again. AVOID!
Roisin Lilley
Roisin Lilley
11:42 24 May 24
I recently had some problems with my previous agent and came to Beth for help! She took over the correspondence for me and sorted everything out for me! I can’t thank her enough for her patience and help!! I’d highly recommend her to other landlords that need help!
Chris Lilley
Chris Lilley
11:26 24 May 24
I’ve been a tenant with Harringtons Lettings for a while, they are great, they always sort out any issues I have quickly and efficiently, Beth in particular is really helpful and I’ll be going to her for my next rental property when I look to move in September!
Georgina Palzeaird
Georgina Palzeaird
11:21 24 May 24
Beth Roberts was a huge help when I needed to switch to a new letting agency. She was friendly and efficient and I’ve always felt I’m in safe hands.
Eliya Halim
Eliya Halim
10:26 24 May 24
Top service
Maryana Atiya
Maryana Atiya
10:20 24 May 24
Rees Harper
Rees Harper
17:53 21 May 24
Lauryn Keller
Lauryn Keller
15:20 03 May 24
Georgie was great on our viewing - super lovely, informative and honest. Thank you!
Sammi Richmond
Sammi Richmond
09:16 24 Apr 24
Well, they just contacted me via email asking for a review for money... so here, I guess.Does 3 stars get me that tenner? Probably not. Nothing terrible to say, but never had any issues with the property really. Don't enjoy that they were willing to pay for reviews though, seems sketchy.UPDATE: As the business has finally replied to my review 6 years later, I thought I would mention that I indeed have the email still as proof. Offer of £10 for a review, and to mention Rachel Erridge in the review. Also a prize of £200 to one lucky winner. The email was sent from the Harrington's admin email address. I can email the proof to whoever requests it.
Jayden Charles-Frempong
Jayden Charles-Frempong
01:20 18 Apr 24
Every interaction I've had so far with Harrington has been positive with workers responding to calls very quickly and addressing any queries efficiently.
severin severinov
severin severinov
10:05 11 Apr 24
It is very good that they do their job professionally and take care of the customers.
kate quick
kate quick
13:15 09 Apr 24
I am very happy and extremely grateful to have found Harringtons lettings and the beautiful flat that I am now living in. Not only is the flat perfect for me, ticks all the boxes and is in a great location; the whole communication/admin process was so fast and efficient. I spoke to many of the team, but the two main contacts initially were Georgie and Beth. Great personalities, friendly and fast at replying to emails and phone calls. It was all turned around very quickly and everyone at Harringtons seems to appear to really be happy in their jobs. Great letting agent and I would recommend them to others looking for a new home.
Michael Hollamby
Michael Hollamby
12:32 09 Apr 24
Having worked with many many lettings it has been refreshing to deal with such a dynamic and energetic team. From start to finish the team have outstanding. Special mention to Beth who has been fantastic. I can thoroughly recommend using Harringtons.
Celyn James
Celyn James
17:08 27 Mar 24
Great experience, Georgie was so knowledgeable and kind with any enquiries I had. Really put me at ease while house hunting, amazing service thank you so much!!
Madison Harris
Madison Harris
14:29 27 Mar 24
Georgie was so helpful and really kind very appreciative x
Amber-Rose Cook
Amber-Rose Cook
08:58 22 Mar 24
easy to use and navigate as a first time user
Buffy Vaughn
Buffy Vaughn
18:06 21 Mar 24
Harringtons have been so helpful so far. Everyone we’ve spoken to on the phone including Georgie have been so warm and receptive and easy to communicate with. As a couple renting together for first time me & Danny couldn’t have found better people to help us out, they’re clear and concise. We discovered them through Rightmove and would highly recommend anyone to use their services to rent with.Thanks guys!Buffy & Danny
Sajan Raja
Sajan Raja
01:48 21 Mar 24
Kerryn Johnson
Kerryn Johnson
16:58 18 Mar 24
Georgie was absolutely amazing! Very helpful, easy to talk to and all in all an absolute sweetheart. Made the process of renting and finding a property less stressful. Always happy to help and lovely to chat to!Thank you again for everything!
Julia Reinstein
Julia Reinstein
11:22 18 Mar 24
5/5 - Everyone I’ve spoken to on the phone has been so friendly and patient with our move in documents. We found Harringtons through Rightmove, and have been really happy with our interactions. The team respond to queries efficiently and are happy to answer any and all questions.
Andrew Brown
Andrew Brown
07:09 15 Mar 24
A really excellent agency, who are very easy and friendly to deal with. Highly recommended.
Rob Rainbird
Rob Rainbird
18:04 13 Mar 24
Lovely staff and all round positive experience - Georgie is an absolute diamond and a credit to the team!
Tori Tor
Tori Tor
11:15 08 Mar 24
Harringtons have been really helpful and very swift with their responses. Georgie was very proffesional and really friendly when she did the viewings with me and Beth on the phone was again really helpful and gave me hope when I was explaining my eagerness to find somewhere new to live. Thanks Harringtons!
christos papanicolaou
christos papanicolaou
09:33 07 Mar 24
Staff were brilliant. Very helpful
Yasmin Bright
Yasmin Bright
20:54 01 Mar 24
I'm in a difficult situation at the moment with my landlord wanting to sell the flat that myself and my 3 children have been living in for 7 years. I came across Harringtons Viewings by applying to view some properties outside of my area.Unfortunately I haven't been able to sort anything with Harringtons, however I wanted to write this to say that they have been nothing but kind, warm and very understanding of my situation. I've been really impressed by their customer service (namely Georgie & Beth) and hope that they are able to find me something eventually!Thanks so much.Yasmin
Tegan
Tegan
17:30 22 Feb 24
Have been very accommodating and helpful when calling agents. They have been very helpful in being able to secure a house for students.
TheFlyingCrocodile
TheFlyingCrocodile
16:42 21 Feb 24
Went above and beyond to get things sorted for me
Brittany Stace
Brittany Stace
11:18 24 Jan 24
Harringtons have been incredibly helpful and supportive of us as new renters and they have been super efficient in getting all of the documents sent through and signed in such a short period of time. Thank you!
Georgie Prebble
Georgie Prebble
20:36 05 Jan 24
Jade Innes
Jade Innes
10:24 04 Jan 24
So far the service has been good. The staff are very friendly and quick to respond to any questions and requests.
Polly Smith
Polly Smith
11:17 28 Dec 23
we chose this letting agents as they chose a good bills company that is much cheaper than other agents. When viewing houses the staff were very friendly and have been very helpful in answering our questions and making the process as easy as possible.
Emma Howe
Emma Howe
16:06 14 Nov 23
I would rate Harringtons Lettings a 5/5. Very lovely on the phone and very quick and easy to communicate with via email. Any problems have been resolved in no time at all. So far so good!I found Harringtons via Rightmove.
Akwisitions Feedback
Akwisitions Feedback
16:25 30 Oct 23
Very responsive and super helpful throughout the process. Highly recommended!
Chloe Ballard
Chloe Ballard
17:28 02 Oct 23
Although I have only been renting with Harringtons for a short period of time, I have had nothing but a positive experience. From viewing to admin updates. The admin team especially are very polite and quick to respond and I have no doubt that the rest of my tenancy will run smoothly. I would recommend to anyone considering renting in brighton.
Matthew Ball
Matthew Ball
11:46 19 Sep 23
Professional communication with tenant although entirely impersonal. There was a bigger disconnect in their communication with the landlord in most cases, which seemed to be either slow or non-existent (discovered after contacting the landlord directly).Property was full of spider webs on day 1 despite apparently being professionally cleaned. Took a day off of work to clean it on move out day, leaving it cleaner than when it received but still had to pay part of the deposit for professional cleaning.It has been a while since I have rented, but I'll avoid letting agencies completely now if this is anything close to the average renting experience.
Ronan SK
Ronan SK
12:38 12 Sep 23
Great professionalism/communciation from the start up until the end of my tenancy. Definitely set the standards for what agencies should be like. Highly recommend to those within Brighton.
Daniel Sutton
Daniel Sutton
10:29 24 Aug 23
I have rented with Harringtons Lettings before and have always found the agents to be quick, efficient, friendly and helpful. I loved their service so much I have chosen to rent with Harringtons again. Faultless 😊
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