WE PROVIDE FULLY COMPLIANT FITNESS FOR HUMAN HABITATION FFHH REPORTS & ASSESSMENTS
FITNESS FOR HUMAN HABITATION BILL (FFHH)
The Landlord and Tenant Act (1985) stipulates that any property rented out must be fit for human habitation from commencement of the tenancy and it is the landlord’s responsibility to maintain the property throughout the tenancy.
If the landlord wishes to enter the property for inspection or to carry out remedial work then this must be at a reasonable time of day and you must give the tenant reasonable notice of at least 24 hours.
The responsibility lies with the landlord for keeping both exterior and interior aspects of the property in good repair whilst the tenant is responsible for their own possessions. Examples of landlord’s covered responsibilities range from gas and electrical appliances, to ventilation systems, to ensuring that furniture meets current fire legislation. In most cases these works should be carries out by certified persons and details passed to the tenant within 28 days.
As tenants nowadays are much more informed on their rights, landlords must be aware to fulfil their legal obligations otherwise a county can find that they will be named and shamed on social media and not be tolerated.
Dont forget – the more agreeable the property is to prospective tenants, the more likely you are to achieve higher rents!
FITNESS FOR HUMAN HABITATION ACT 2018 (FFHH)
Who and what are covered by the act?
The Act covers all tenancies less than seven years in length in both the social and private rented sectors.
The requirement includes the dwelling let to a tenant and all parts of any building it forms a part of, in which the landlord has an interest. For example the common parts of an HMO or block of flats owned by the landlord.
It will extend to all existing tenancies which meet this criteria, including periodic tenancies and legacy regulated tenancies.
What does fit for Human Habitation Mean?
The Act, or rather the Landlord and Tenant Act (1985) which it amends, outlines fitness for habitation by virtue of what constitutes a property unfit for human habitation.
A property will be unfit for habitation if there are serious defects in any of the following:
- Freedom from damp
- Internal arrangement
- Natural lighting
- Water supply
- Drainage and sanitary conveniences
- Facilities for preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waster water
The Act goes on to say: “the house shall be regarded as unfit for human habitation if, and only if, it is so far defective in one or more of those matters that it is not reasonably suitable in that condition”
Who is responsible for Fitness for Habitation?
In most circumstances the landlord. However, the Act does not make landlords responsible for damage or disrepair caused by the tenants’ behaviour.
What happens if a property is unfit for human habitation?
Provided it is their responsibility, the landlord should carry out such works to put the issues right, although there are some exemptions. The landlord is not obliged to:
- Rebuild or reinstate a destroyed building
- Put right unfitness the tenant is responsible for causing
- Carry out works which are the responsibility of a superior landlord, or for which they cannot obtain third-party consent
Claims may be brought before the court, where a landlord may be ordered to carry out works, and damages awarded.
WHAT DOES THE BILL DO?
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 incorporates the hazards enshrined in the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) and adds them to the 9 original fitness categories.
The updated ‘fitness standard’ includes issues not currently 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).
The Bill gives tenants a way to take effective action themselves if they rent a property in poor condition and the landlord fails to do the necessary maintenance.
FFHH IS NOT THE HHSRS
The FFHH is not the HHSRS for tenants. The standard of fitness is to be assessed by the court using the 29 hazard profiles provided for by the HHSRS but not in the same way or to the same standard as the HHSRS. The HHSRS is a means of assessing risk in a property by improving it. The FFHH is a means of assessing fitness for a specific occupier. So FFHH is not assessed by considering whether there are category 1 or 2 hazards in a property (as the HHSRS is) and the FFHH is assessed based on the person actually occupying the property (as opposed to the HHSRS which is based on notional occupiers from high risk groups). That is not to say that an HHSRS assessment for a property will not also be relevant to its fitness. Clearly, a property with a large number of serious HHSRS hazards is unlikely to be fit. However, a property which has HHSRS hazards which are specific to the risk groups used for an HHSRS assessment may in fact be fit for the specific occupier in the property if they do not fall into one of those risk groups.
HOUSING HEALTH AND SAFETY RATING SYSTEM (HHSRS)
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is a risk assessment tool used to assess potential risks to the health and safety of occupants and their visitors in residential properties focusing on the hazards that are present in housing. Tackling these hazards will make housing healthier and safer to live in.
WHO DOES IT AFFECT?
All owners and landlords, including social landlords.
Unfortunately, the private sector contains some of the worst housing conditions and owners and landlords should be aware that any future inspections of their property will be made using HHSRS.
Private landlords and managing agents are advised to assess their property to determine whether there are serious hazards that may cause a health and safety risk to tenants. They should then carry out improvements to reduce the risks.
WHAT IS THE HHSRS?
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System is used to assess if your rented home has hazards that could put your health at risk.
The HHSRS assessment identifies who’s responsible for doing any work that’s needed.
The council can take action against your landlord if the assessment shows your home isn’t safe.
In some cases, the council can do the work and recover the cost from the landlord.
HOW HAZARDS ARE ASSESSED
Hazards are rated according to how serious they are and how likely they are to affect someone badly. A category 1 hazard is the most serious.
The HHSRS takes into account any extra risk to young children or older people.
CATEGORY 1 HAZARDS
A category 1 hazard is a hazard that poses a serious threat to the health and safety of people living in or visiting your home
- Exposed wiring or overloaded electrical sockets
- Dangerous or broken boiler
- Bedrooms that are very cold
- Leaking roof
- Mould on the wall or ceiling
- Rats or other pest or vermin infestation
- Broken steps at the top of the stairs
- Lack of security due to badly-fitting external doors or problems with locks
The council must take action if its assessment shows that there is a category 1 hazard in your home.
ACTION THE COUNCIL CAN TAKE
The council decides what action to take against your landlord if repairs or essential works are needed to improve health and safety in your home
They can serve your landlord with a notice or order that sets out what your landlord should do. You should be given a copy.
The council can only serve one type of notice or order at any time.
- Hazard awareness notice
- Improvement notice
- Emergency Remedial Action
- Prohibition order
- Demolition order
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