What is the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act, and what does it mean for landlords?
With regulations changing so often in Wales, as a landlord or managing agent, it is essential to keep on top of your game and keep track of any changes or updates that are being implicated regarding rental properties. This blog entry highlights the updates to the new Fitness For Human Habitation Act 2016 and what you need to know in order to be compliant.
Landlords have an obligation to ensure that a dwelling is fit for human habitation at the start of the contract and throughout the term. This is largely based on the Housing Health and Safety Rating System that is currently in place.
Landlords must keep the structure and exterior of the property in repair and keep installations for the supply of water, gas (if applicable) and electricity for sanitation, heating and hot water in good repair and proper working order.
In depth information regarding the new FFHH Act can be found using the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/homes-fitness-for-human-habitation-act-2018 This determines the 29 'matters and circumstances' that landlords must follow. The guidance indicates the actions that may be taken by a landlord to help ensure that the dwelling is fit for human habitation. This also includes the further specific requirements which landlords must meet to ensure a dwelling is considered fit for purpose, such as carrying out an EICR every 5 years, fitting smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms and all gas regulations. It is also essential for landlords to keep up to date on any changes or new regulations that are brought in and to comply with these.
These specific requirements will apply from the occupation date of a new occupation contract from or after the 1st December 2022. Existing contracts will have a twelve month grace period to undertake the necessary work to meet the requirements. However, this does not apply to the fitting of carbon monoxide alarms, as these will need to be present in the dwelling by the 15th July 2022.
If an existing contract that started before the 1st December 2022 and therefore is a converted occupation contract becomes a periodic contract due to the fix-term contract coming to an end during the twelve month grace period - before the 1st December 2023. The requirements will apply from the date the contract becomes periodic and the remainder of the grace period will not apply.
A landlords repairing obligations will apply for the duration of the contract. However, these obligations (apart from the obligation to ensure that a property is fit for human habitation on the occupation date) will apply only once the landlord becomes aware of the need. The contract-holder has an obligation to notify the landlord of any repairs, defects or damage that are deemed necessary work to be carried out and which they believe is the landlords responsibility. However, the landlord will not be liable for failing to comply with the FFHH obligations if they have been refused access or cannot access a part of the building due to restrictions out of their control to make such repairs, after making reasonable effort to gain access.
There are numerous consequences for non-compliance in relation to the Fit For Human Habitation (FFHH) Act including fines, court orders, revoking of landlord license with Rent Smart Wales, restrictions on property possession. A landlord may also be liable to pay the contract-holder compensation in relation to any personal injury that is caused by failure to not ensure the dwelling is fit for human habitation.
As with any new legislation, a number of points may be changed before they are implicated on 1st December 2022. This blog entry covers our best interpretation of the new legislation as of August 2022. We will update all information with any changes as and when we can - watch this space!