Is your rented property fit for human habitation?

How does the Fitness for Human Habitation law impact you as a tenant? Statista report there were 4.43 million rented homes in England as of 2021.1 With 28.5 million homes in the UK total, the UK Government’s home report states that about 14% of all houses are failing to meet Decent Homes Standards set out by themselves. A large portion of these homes are social housing.2

If your home is suffering due to adverse weather, your landlord has a duty to repair it. If they do not make these repairs or don’t do them quickly enough, you could claim compensation using a housing disrepair solicitor.

What counts as Fit for Habitation?

Your home might not be fit for habitation if any of the following points apply to you:

  • Causes you harm to stay in it
  • Is not structurally safe
  • If you can’t use all or part of it
  • If it is making a health condition worse
  • If there is no sanitation
  • If there is no hot water

Your landlord has an obligation to ensure the home is safe and fit for purpose. You can read exact requirements on the UK government site.

List of Recognised Home Disrepairs

If your home suffers any of the following, your landlord must make the repairs:

  • The building is old and abandoned
  • The home has asbestos containing materials
  • Extremes of temperature
  • There is another toxin such as lead or radiation present
  • It is not structurally sound
  • There are building hazards in the home
  • There are no windows
  • Leaking gas
  • Chemical spills
  • There is no ventilation
  • There is no running water
  • The home is overcrowded
  • There is carbon monoxide leaking
  • The drains don’t work
  • The toilet is broken
  • You cannot cook or wash
  • No lockable doors
  • There are patches of damp, mildew, or mould
  • Pests or hygiene issues
  • There are high levels of mould killing biocides
  • Excessive noise
  • Excessive trip hazards
  • Electrical problems
  • And anything that affects your ability to safely prepare food

If your landlord is guilty of these, calling a housing disrepair solicitor can help you. It will encourage them to make the repairs and you may even win compensation.

Exemptions

The landlord is not duty bound to fix things the tenant broke on purpose. If the damage was caused by an Act of God, such as a flood, the landlord may refuse to make repairs. They may need permission to make the repairs and not get it, and the landlord is also not expected to pay for your personal items.

Which homes are affected by the Habitation Law?

Any home which the occupier rents. This includes council accommodation, private housing, and anyone who has a contracted lease or license agreement. If you live in social housing you can still take your local council or housing association to court over not upholding the Fitness for Habitation Act. If you lodge in a private residence, you may have a license agreement.

How to claim for breach of Fitness for Habitation?

Under this act, your landlord must receive notification from you about the repair, then act to repair the damage within a reasonable time. The first step is always to report to your landlord. The more your report the issue and the more they ignore it, the better your chances of proving it in court. Make sure you put things in writing.

When you have sufficient evidence that your landlord is ignoring you, contact a housing disrepair solicitor for help. Choose one that is no win, no fee, to save yourself the costs of the legal process.

1 Statista, 2022: https://www.statista.com/statistics/286444/england-number-of-private-rented-households/
2 Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, 2022: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/english-housing-survey-2021-to-2022-headline-report

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