The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 received Royal Assent on 20 December.

The new law is intended to boost standards in the rented accommodation sector by amending the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

Under the new regulations, landlords of both social and privately rented properties will be required to ensure that their properties meet certain standards at the beginning and throughout a tenancy. Where a landlord fails to meet the standards, a tenant has the right under the regulations to take legal action for breach of contract on the grounds that the property is unfit for human habitation. Where a landlord is found to be in breach of the law courts can order them to make the appropriate improvements or repairs.

Fixed financial penalties of up to £30,000 and banning orders, possibly for life, are available to the courts for the most serious offenders who continue to let unfit properties.

Referring to the new law, Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Heather Wheeler MP said:

“Everyone deserves a safe and decent place to live, regardless of whether you own your home or rent it.

“That’s why Government has introduced a range of measures to help ensure that people who are renting have good quality and well-maintained properties to call home.

“This new law is a further step to ensure that tenants have the decent homes they deserve.”

There are exceptions to the implied covenant on a landlord to keep a premises fit for human habitation. For instance, it does not apply if the lack of fitness is wholly or mainly attributable to the tenant’s own breach of the covenant.

A landlord has the right, under the law, to enter the premises for the purpose of viewing its condition and state of repair. This must be done at a “reasonable” time of day and only if at least 24 hours’ notice in writing has been given.

The Act applies to new tenancies of less than seven years, including renewals of existing tenancies. It comes into force in both England and Wales on 20 March 2019.

Last reviewed 11 January 2019