Is Your Rental Fit For Human Habitation?
According to the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2019, a rental property must be safe, healthy, and free from things that could cause serious harm in order to be considered fit for human habitation.
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It was passed in order to give tenants more power when renting a property from a landlord that is not meeting the minimum requirements of a safe home.
What happens when a home is not fit for human habitation?
If your home is not fit for human habitation, it can affect your health, put you at risk or prevent you from making full use of your home. Some examples include being unable to heat your home in the winter, as living in a cold home could affect your health. Exposed electrical wires or damaged walls and floors can also potentially lead to you harming yourself. If there is a serious mould problem in one of the rooms, this may make it impossible to use that room.
Landlords are responsible for making sure your property is meeting the basic requirements of being fit for habitation. If your property is unfit, you can take court action, which can result in the court ordering your landlord to either carry out any work needed to make the property safe, or pay you compensation.
What makes a home not fit for human habitation?
Your landlord is responsible for health and safety, and therefore for most of the repairs, in your home, so any problems with gas pipes and boilers, heating and hot water, ventilation, the structure of the building, etc., should be reported and repairs should be requested.
Your home is considered unfit if the conditions make it unsuitable for you to live there. This includes any issues with gas or fire safety, unsafe electrics, lack of heating, damp, rats or other pests, and unsanitary toilets, bathrooms or kitchens. Damp and mould problems should be dealt with promptly, gas safety checks should be arranged yearly, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be installed where needed and it should all be dealt with in a timely manner. The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act goes into detail about what issues specifically can deem a home unfit for habitation.
The role of the tenancy agreement in keeping a home fit for human habitation
Of course, the Homes Act refers to homes unfit for habitation due to lack of care by the landlord and does not protect tenants who have contributed to their home being unfit. You are responsible for fixing any appliances or furniture you have personally purchased, or any damage to the home that was caused by you, your family or your guests. It’s important to read your tenancy agreement, as it may say you are also responsible for carrying out some minor repairs.
If you weren’t keeping your home reasonably clean and carrying out minor maintenance when necessary, your landlord can ask you to pay for repairs that were caused by your lack of care, sometimes charging you a fee in exchange for them fixing the problem.
If you are at all concerned about your home, whether it’s something simple like a draughty window or something that is causing you serious discomfort, always discuss the problem with your landlord. As with any tenancy, there is a possibility of issues cropping up along the way.
Make sure you’ve read your tenancy agreement and discussed problems with your landlord first before making any other decisions. Chances are, they weren’t aware of the severity of the problem. Whatever the situation may be, remember that you have the right to a safe home and don’t be afraid to ask for that right to be honoured.