Housing associations have been anticipating the full implementation of the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 for some time. Now that it is here, it has been taken over by current COVID-19 events. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that as of 20 March 2020, all relevant tenancies in England are now subject to the Act, via the amendment it makes to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

What does the act say? 

The Act confers an obligation on landlords to ensure that homes are fit for human habitation from the beginning of a tenancy and continuing throughout the life of the tenancy. The key new aspect is that in assessing whether a property is fit for human habitation there is now reference to the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). 

The HHSRS is a “risk-based health and safety evaluation tool” that refers to 29 hazards and guides local authorities in assessing the state of properties. These hazards, notably including damp and mould, are now explicitly made reference to in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. Whilst the local authority has always had the power to intervene and enforce works where these hazards existed, tenants now have individual rights to take action where they believe that their tenancy is unfit for human habitation and a court, in determining if a relevant tenancy is “unfit” will have regard to a number of matters as outlined in Section 10 of the Landlord and Tenant Act, including any prescribed hazard.

What to take away?

The sector has, over the last few years seen an increase in disrepair claims and the impact of this legislation on such claims is yet to be seen. However, given the extra-ordinary circumstance the country finds itself in with the Covid-19 Pandemic with many tenants now correctly following Public Policy guidance on self-isolating and social distancing providers are equally facing challenges to the resources at their disposal.
With repairs contractors withdrawing and staffing levels in-house reducing, meeting repairs requirements is a concern. Accordingly risk-based evaluation processes are being shaped within associations and across the sector generally, to be able to adapt to the changing and challenging landscape.

How can we support you? 

Capsticks is continually providing support and guidance to clients. With the firm’s expertise in health, social care and housing, we are able to support you and your front line staff through these challenging times.

If you have any queries around what's discussed in this article, and the impact on your organisation, please speak to Paul Lloyd to find out more about how Capsticks can help.