The Homes Fit for Habitation bill became Law on 20th March 2018. Landlords must maintain rental properties to decent housing standards, and cannot evict tenants if there are outstanding repairs.
Homes fit for habitation
The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill came into force on March 20, meaning all landlords in England have to make sure their properties are fit for human habitation throughout the course of a tenancy. Basically the HHSRS guidance has now become law.
If landlords fail to comply with standards set out under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, their tenants can take legal action against them even though the tenant may be in arrears. Further, a Landlord cannot evict a tenant if there is a complaint against him for disrepair, so the law is definitely in favour of the tenant and at the landlords expense.
While the bill could mean higher costs for landlords who need to get their properties up to scratch, it has been widely welcomed by trade bodies in the sector for giving renters greater protection against rogue operators.
Shelter has reacted quickly, and is searching for any outstanding repair issue on any of its clients who are facing eviction for rent arrears or on Section 21 possession orders. If they find any, the court will rule in favour of the tenant, and will require the landlord to do any outstanding repairs and get the property up to standard, regardless of the tenant's arrears or a tenant breaking the terms of the tenancy agreement in other ways. We have had a case where Shelter have paid for a surveyor to go into the property and prepare a schedule of repairs needed in order to present this to the court in defence of the tenant.
So the lesson here for Landlords is - Be Aware. Landlords are responsible for keeping rental properties up to standard, regardless of how bad the tenant turns out to be, how they live or what they do.