Tenants will be able to sue landlords if homes are cold or mouldy under new law

March 06, 2020
mouldy house

Tenants in England will have more powers to hold landlords who rent out substandard properties to account later this month as the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act comes into force.

Under the new law, social and private tenants will now have the right to sue landlords who do not carry out repairs, putting the power into the hands of renters who were previously reliant on councils to enforce repairs.

The Act, an amendment of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, seeks to combat rogue landlords. The government estimates more than a million households across the private and social sectors are forced to endure dangerous conditions which could harm them or pose a serious risk of harm.

The new legislation means the tenant will be able to take action against the landlord to make them put right any problems or hazards that make the property unfit. The tenant can seek compensation if the landlord fails to address issues such as mould, pest infestations, poor ventilation, noise and problems to water supply.

Under the new ruling, there are 29 issues set out under ‘Matters and Circumstances’ of the Housing Health and Safety (England) Regulations 2005 that courts will be able to to use to decide whether a home is suitable and safe to live in. They can then grant an injunction forcing the landlord to carry out repairs or award compensation to the renter.

The regulations will come into force as of March 19, 2020 and apply to new tenancy agreements as well as existing social tenancies after a 12-month period.

Lawful landlords will see little change under the new law. Landlords will not be forced to rebuild a property that has been destroyed or damaged by fire, flood or any other natural occurrence.

The full list of 29 issues:
Damp and mould growth
Pest infestations
Excess cold or heat
Asbestos and MMF
Water supply
Electrical hazards
Food safety
Falling on level surfaces, baths, stairs, between levels
Entry by intruders
Crowding and space
Collision and entrapment
Structural collapse and falling elements
How does it work in practice?