New laws mean landlords can be sued by tenants for cold or damp houses

Landlords can be sued by their tenants for cold or damp homes under new laws that come into force next month.
If a landlord or property investor does not carry out necessary repairs or maintenance, the occupant will be able take them to court where a judge can issue an injunction forcing the work to be carried out.

Around one million rented homes, housing 2.5 million people in the UK are not fit for human habitation, according to housing charity Shelter.

Tenants have been left with substandard and often unsafe accommodation due to a 1985 law making it the responsibility of local authorities to investigate conditions.

With many local councils overstretched due to massive budget cuts, standards have often been poorly or sporadically enforced, allowing some unscrupulous landlords to skimp on the costs of upkeep and repair, leaving tenants to deal with the consequences.

But from 20 March, the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act will amend the 1985 legislation and make landlords more accountable for conditions in their homes.

Landlords will have to make sure their properties meet certain standards at the beginning and throughout a tenancy. For the first time this will include problems caused by defective design – such as lack of ventilation or infestations of vermin and insects – rather than disrepair.

The new rules also include a so-called Grenfell clause, which allows tenants to take action over common areas in shared buildings such as flats and HMOs.

Tenants can raise issues such as the following:

  • Repair
  • Stability
  • Damp
  • Internal arrangement
  • Natural lighting
  • Ventilation
  • Water supply
  • Drainage and sanitary conveniences
  • Facilities for preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water
  • Hazards under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System

As part of Abode’s regular property inspections and communication with tenants, landlords and investors need not worry about cold or damp as we can spot it and act upon it swiftly and cost effectively.

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