New Fit for Habitation Law for Landlords; and Forthcoming Prohibitions on Charges and Deposits on Tenants

There are two important developments landlords need to know about. First, residential landlords must ensure all their properties let for less than seven years are fit for human habitation; and second, the ability of landlords and agents to impose charges on tenants will soon be restricted.

Fit for human habitation

From 20 March, residential landlords of private and social property must comply with the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018. This imposes an implied duty on residential landlords to ensure the properties they let, as well as their common parts (such as in a block of flats), are ‘fit for human habitation’ from the first day of the tenancy and throughout. The parties cannot contract out of the new law so tenants are protected from any attempt by landlords to pressurise them to waive their rights.

The Act applies to most residential tenancies, particularly those from 20 March 2019 for less than seven years. This includes tenancy renewals, and tenancies for more than seven years but with a break clause that can be triggered within seven years.

It also applies to periodic or secure tenancies which existed on 20 March 2019, or are created after 20 March. For example, this could be in circumstances where a shorthold tenancy ends and automatically becomes a statutory periodic tenancy.

In deciding whether a residential dwelling is fit for human habitation, the court will consider various factors including whether there are serious defects in relation to:

  • The stability and state of repair of the premises
  • Any damp
  • The natural light available
  • Ventilation at the premises
  • Water, drainage and sanitary facilities
  • Facilities for preparing and cooking food
  • Waste disposal facilities, and
  • The presence of any ‘prescribed hazards’

In most cases, the landlord will be responsible to ensure the property is fit for habitation (or face a claim), but with any rules there are exceptions. So where the tenant is responsible for the property being unfit for human habitation, the landlord will not be in breach of the new law. Nor does the Act require landlords to carry out works or repairs which, if carried out, would put the landlord in breach of any obligation imposed by other legislation.

Further exceptions include where problems are caused by fire, flood or storm.

Deposits and charges made to tenants

From 1 June 2019, landlords will face tighter rules on the deposits they can request from tenants in the private rented sector, and the money they charge tenants for works and other things. The provisions of the Tenant Fees Act 2019 outlaw unfair administrative fees levied on tenants. This means landlords and agents should be looking now at their procedures relating to taking tenancy deposits and how they charge tenants.

Once in force, the rules will prevent landlords and letting agents from charging security deposits of more than five weeks’ rent or holding deposits of more than a week’s rent. They must not disguise letting fees as something else, and they will only be permitted to charge tenants a fee if it relates to specific things such as:

  • A change or early termination of a tenancy if the tenant so requests (to a maximum charge of £50)
  • Utilities, communication services and council tax
  • Payments arising out of the tenant’s default – but charges must be reasonable

In the case of a breach of the rules, civil penalties could include a fine of up to £5,000 for a first offence, and if it continues or is repeated, a landlord or agent could face a criminal prosecution and a potential fine of up to £30,000.

The Government will be publishing guidance for tenants, landlords and letting agents to help explain how the legislation affects them.

 

 

Back to the SOLICITORS group News

Media Centre

“The Solicitors Group online directory is an established and respected channel for legal professionals, meaning I can talk to my existing and future customers about products and services both quickly and easily.”

Carole Hatton
Marketing Manager
Landmark Information Group

“Reaching our niche market can sometimes be challenging, however we find promoting our legal training courses on www.thesolicitorsgroup.co.uk an excellent way of contacting both existing and new customers. The service we receive from The Solicitors Group is both professional and relevant to our core activities and we would recommend their services to others.”

Euromoney

“I must say that to date we have been very pleased with the referrals we are getting from your site.”

Paul West
Orchid Cellmark

“The Newsdesk feature on www.thesolicitorsgroup.co.uk is ideal for us. Its prominent location on the site provides a great platform to communicate key messages to existing and potential clients.”

Neil Phillips
Marketing Manager
Countrywide Legal Indemnities

"We are very happy with the referrals we are getting from The Solicitors Group web-site."

C.A. Bishop
Technical Director
Wickham Laboratories Ltd

“We received 419 click-throughs to our site from advertising with www.thesolicitorsgroup.co.uk”

Legal Prospects

“Putting myself in my potential client's shoes, I consider www.thesolicitorsgroup.co.uk to offer perhaps the clearest and most user-friendly listing of expert witnesses, especially in its choice of index terms.”

Ivan Vince
ASK Consultants

“The banner ad looks great”

Samantha Dawson
Director
The Bundle Business Limited

“The Solicitors Group has been fantastic in helping us to raise awareness about bowel cancer, which kills 16,000 people every year in the UK. Bowel Cancer UK aims to save lives by raising awareness of bowel cancer, campaigning for best treatment and care and providing practical support and advice. Without the support of organisations such as the Solicitors Group we would be unable to carry out this vital work. We are very grateful to the team at the Solicitors Group for their support and assistance.”

Tamara Matthews
Legacy Officer
Bowel Cancer UK

“As a result of Law London, we have registered 208 new companies/firms to the website, generating £20,797 GWP to date, as well as reinforcing our presence in this very profitable marketplace.”

Aviva

“The event was well put together and executed, and the traffic of potential customers for us was high. We had a number of enquiries regarding our services after the event and we feel our attendance there was important to our overall brand exposure. We feel a Law event of this size without Euromoney Legal Training present could potentially be hurtful to us as a business. We would recommend you to attend and shall ourselves be there again in 2008.”

Euromoney

“Many thanks for the prompt service.”

Martin Gibbs MBE
Director / Investigator
Griffin Forensics Ltd

“A targeted email to key customers is an invaluable method of communication, endorse this with the Solicitors Group branding, relevant editorial content and you have created a winning combination! We look forward to reading the next edition.”

Carole Hatton
Marketing Manager
Landmark Information Group

“Talking directly to Property Lawyers is critical to us as they are key customers or potentially could be for all of our products, The Solicitors Group offer a perfect solution to get our messages right to the right people”

Carole Hatton
Marketing Manager
Landmark Information Group

“Thank you for having a useful and informative site, it is good to see a comprehensive and friendly portal.”

Stefan Fann
UK Probate Services

“Cadogans aims to keep its brand image in front of lawyers who may be looking for engineering experts. A check on Google analytics showed that referrals to our website from The Solicitors Group website were above average.”

Daphne Wassermann
Technical Director
Cadogans