If you live in a rented property in England which is rented from the council, from a housing association or rented from a private landlord, then you have the right to live in a home which is safe for you and your family and “fit for human habitation”.
A law came into effect in March 2019, meaning that rented homes, regardless of whether they are houses, or flats, should be free from hazards which could cause serious harm or illness. This law is set out in the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.
The government has set out a list of problems which could affect a property, some of which include damp and mould growth, poor sanitation, dangers from falls (for example out of a window, or on poorly fitted stairs), and many other hazards.
You do have a duty to allow your landlord, or the council to put right any problems with the property and therefore if you are a new tenant, you should be asked to make a list of any problems that you can identify and this must be passed onto to either the landlord, letting agent, housing association or council. You should keep a copy of this list of problems yourself, and make regular efforts to chase up any repairs. If you have lived in the property for some time and a new defect arises, one which could cause a danger to health, then again, it is your responsibility to identify this to whoever is responsible for the property and carrying out those repairs. Emailing or writing is a good idea, as this gives you a paper trail, to refer back to, should your complaints not be resolved and you have to take the matter further. Take good quality photographs of any defects as these will also be helpful.
Once you have notified your landlord, or the council of any problems, you must then allow them to come to inspect the property and arrange for repairs to be carried out. They must usually give you at least 24 hours’ notice to do the inspection, and should arrange for repairs to be carried out with reasonable notice, and at a reasonable time of day. Whilst there are certain restrictions in place with intermittent lockdowns due to covid, if you can show evidence that you are living in a property which could cause a danger to health, then this would be a justifiable reason for asking your landlord etc, to arrange for repairs.
There are lots than can go wrong in a property – from damp conditions causing serious health problems, to broken bannisters, stairs or handrails causing falls, to faulty electrics causing shocks. If you find that you are unfortunately subjected to living in conditions which are making you or a family member ill, or have caused an accident which has led to an injury, then you may be entitled to compensation, and our personal injury claims department has specialists who can help you.
For more information about this act, and your rights, please click the following link: Guide for tenants: Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018