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January 14

by Amy Kraven
New health and safety law will make rented homes safer

Buy to let landlords in England will soon face a stricter health and safety regime for private rented homes. The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 was given Royal Assent on December 20 and is effective from March 20, 2019.

The new law demands that rented homes are fit for habitation when a tenant moves in and calls on landlords to ensure they stay in that condition throughout a tenancy. If  standards drop, tenants can take their landlord to court for breach of contract on the grounds that the property is unfit for human habitation.

Health and safety standards for shared homes will determine whether a home is fit for habitation.

These standards look at:

  • Water, gas and electricity – Utilities must be safely and correctly installed
  • Personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage – Covers bathroom and drain installations
  • Food safety – Looks at health and safety in kitchens, including cookers and food storage
  • Ventilation – Makes sure adequate vents and open windows are in working order
  • Heating – Includes water and space heater but not movable heaters belonging to tenants

Minister for Housing and Homelessness Heather Wheeler said: “Everyone deserves a safe and decent place to live, regardless of whether you own your home or rent it.

“That’s why government has introduced a range of measures to help ensure that people who are renting have good quality and well-maintained properties to call home.

“This new law is a further step to ensure that tenants have the decent homes they deserve.”

The law is among several legal changes expected in 2019.

Other bills currently before MPs include the Tenants Fees Bill, which will ban upfront fees demanded from tenants by landlords and letting agents. Additional reviews are under way to upgrade health and safety standards in rented homes, enforce mandatory electrical checks and supply carbon monoxide alarms.

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