The requirement includes the property let to a tenant and all parts of any building in which the landlord owns. For example the common parts of a block of flats owned by the landlord.

What does fit for human habitation mean?

A property will be unfit for habitation if there are serious defects in any of the following:

  • Repair
  • Stability
  • Freedom from damp 
  • Internal arrangement
  • Natural lighting    
  • Ventilation
  • Water supply
  • Drainage and sanitary conveniences; and
  • Facilities for preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water.

“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 issue 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

Should I have any concerns about the new Act?

Most landlords should have nothing to worry about in respect of the new act. A reasonably maintained property should not be deemed unfit. Only landlords of properties suffering serious disrepair issues should be affected, and these should be resolved irrespective of new legislation.

However, private landlords responsible for regulated tenancies where repair and modernisation may have been limited by a sitting tenant need be aware of the Act’s provisions.

As with any new regulations time will tell exactly how it is interpreted by the courts, and whether there are unintended consequences.

Please contact us if you have any further questions about the act and we would be more than happy to advise you.


Patricia Shepherd Letting & Management