This Act replaces Section 8 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 in England, with the purpose of improving living standards in the private and social rented sectors.
Under the Housing Act 2004, landlords and agents were not required to ensure their rental properties were free of potentially harmful hazards. Consequently, an offence was only committed where the landlord or agent had failed to comply with an Improvement Notice issued by the local authority.
The tenant could not take their landlord or agent directly to Court and had to rely on the action of the local authority. Consequently, landlords and agents could legally rent out defective properties, and unless this was addressed by the local authority, they had no requirement to rectify any hazards.
Under the Homes Act 2018, landlords and letting agents acting on their behalf must ensure properties, including common parts where they have an estate or interest, are fit for human habitation at the beginning and throughout the duration of a tenancy.
Tenants will now be able to take direct legal action if their agent or landlord does not comply with the Act. Agents should be aware that property checks will no longer be needed by local authority enforcement officers before being taken to Court by a tenant.
The rules have applied to all domestic tenancies granted or renewed on or after 20th March 2019 and all Periodic Tenancies that commenced before 20th March 2019 are subject to the legislation from 20th March 2020. The legislation effects tenancies in England only.
The Act also applies to leases used wholly or mainly for human habitation not exceeding a period of seven years (or longer tenancies that can be cancelled before seven years).
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