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Government issues guidance for local authorities on Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government has issued non-statutory guidance and advice to local authorities on the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.

The Act, which will come into force on 20 March 2019, is intended to drive up standards in rented homes in both the social and private sectors.

“It does this by empowering tenants to hold their landlord, including registered providers such as housing associations, to account without having to rely on their local authority to do so,” the Ministry said.

“This is a power for tenants and does not alter any existing local authority powers. However, local authorities may decide that they have a part to play in supporting tenants to seek redress under the Act, so may want to consider how the Act fits in with their existing private rented sector enforcement policy and how this information may inform their strategy.”

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The guidance explains that the Act adds to the existing regulatory framework.

“Under the Act, sections are inserted into the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 requiring all landlords (private and social) to ensure that their properties, including any common parts of the building, are fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout. The Act does so by implying a covenant to this effect in the tenancy agreement,” it says.

The guidance argues that landlords who do not maintain safe properties prevent an effective and competitive rental market where all landlords operate on an equal footing. “There are no new obligations for landlords under this Act; the legislation requires landlords to ensure that they are meeting their existing responsibilities with regards to property safety.”

The guidance for landlords, which can be viewed here, covers:

  • Overview of the Act;
  • How do tenants make use of the powers within the Act?
  • How will this affect local authorities as enforcers?
  • What might local authorities start doing straight away?
  • Local authorities’ existing powers and the Act.

The Ministry has also produced non-statutory guidance for tenants and landlords, which can be viewed here.

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