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On the 20th December 2018 the Fitness For Human Habitation Bill received Royal Assent and is therefore now enshrined in law.

There was a 3 month lead in period so as of 20th March 2019 this new legislation takes affect.

Some background

The Bill revives a clause which already exists in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, requiring all rented homes to be ‘fit for human habitation’ at the start of the tenancy, and to remain so throughout. In determining whether a house is ‘unfit’, the Bill includes issues that were not covered by a landlord’s legal repair responsibilities, such as damp caused by design defects (lack of ventilation) rather than disrepair, and infestation (rodents, insects, bed bugs) and further adds to legal requirements already pre existing within the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) which was introduced by the Housing Act 2004 (in force since 2006).

Championed by Shelter; they said that the bill will help to improve property conditions for renters in both social housing and the private rented sector, and will give tenants a meaningful route to improve conditions, without relying on patchy local authority resources. This Bill has had cross-party support in both Parliament and by the Residential Landlords Association and National Landlord Association so it was inevitable that the bill would pass through the Parliamentary process with relative ease.

What does this actually mean for landlords?

Under the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act, landlords of both social and privately rented properties must make sure that their properties meet certain standards at the beginning and throughout a tenancy. If they fail to do this, tenants have the right to take legal action which includes fixed financial penalties of up to £30,000 and banning orders – possibly for life – for the most serious offenders so there is a real need to ensure each and every rental property (social or private) is safe.

This means that the 29 hazards will need to be assessed; a risk category assigned (where applicable) and then any remedial action to address those risks are implemented to ensure the safety of the tenant and their visitors.

The risks are:

  • damp and mould growth
  • excess cold
  • excess heat
  • asbestos and MMF
  • presence of biocides
  • carbon monoxide and fuel combustion products
  • presence of lead
  • presence of radiation
  • uncombusted fuel gas
  • volatile organic compounds
  • crowding and space
  • entry by intruders
  • inadequate natural lighting
  • excessive exposure to noise
  • domestic hygiene
  • pests and refuse
  • food safety
  • sanitation and drainage problems
  • water supply
  • falls associated with baths
  • falls on level surfaces
  • falls associated with stairs and ramps
  • falls between levels
  • electrical hazards
  • uncontrolled fire, flames, hot surfaces and materials
  • collision and entrapment
  • explosions
  • poor ergonomics
  • structural collapse and falling elements

The risk categories are:

Risk Category 1 : Hazard is that where the most serious harm outcome is identified, for example, death, permanent paralysis, permanent loss of consciousness, loss of a limb or serious fractures and therefore is best rectified immediately.

Risk Category 2 : Still a hazard needing remedying, although without the need for urgency albeit still needing correction at some time.

Risk Category 3 : Are those people who could be most affected by the hazard, and importantly, they do not have to be occupants of the property, they could also be any visitor exposed to the hazard.

NB: Government’s Operating Guidance document – Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS) HHSRS Guidance.

Please Note: HHSRS is a system used by Councils / Environmental Health Officers to assess risk and although the FFHH template has all the elements of the HHSRS the methodology / formula for assessment is vastly different and as yet it remains unclear as to how the courts will evaluate risk and award any fines / damages.

Based on current information

The InventoryBase assessment template has been designed to mirror all 29 risk categories and comes with an information table in an easy to read format that; explains both the hazard and risk, highlights those persons deemed most vulnerable / at risk, what the potential issues of each risk are, indicates the 3 risk category options, and offers example issues and actions.

By completing the assessment you can provide the landlord with a better understanding of the condition of the property and enable them to take the most appropriate action to either remedy or minimise any risks noted and has been designed to ensure the user has the fields to evaluate any risk using a ‘common sense’ approach.

This is a real opportunity to add this particular risk assessment to your current service provision so take a look at the FREE course.

NB: All templates within the Template Library can be downloaded into your account (subject to type of plan you are on) and can be changed by you to fit your own requirements.