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New disrepair rights for tenants

New disrepair rights for tenants

In December 2018 Parliament passed the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act and it came into force on 20 March 2019.

Under the old law tenants could only take legal action against their Landlord for serious structural defects or for problems with the property that met the legal definition of ‘disrepair’. ‘Disrepair’ would only normally include something which was working at the start of the tenancy but then broke or stopped working as the tenancy went on. This meant that a Landlord didn’t always have to fix something that was already broken when the tenant moved-in.

Tenants have always been able to ask their local Council for help with hazardous or dangerous properties. The Council are able to force a Landlord to fix any hazards which fall within their pre-set categories (known as the ‘HHSRS’) even if they don’t meet the definition of ‘disrepair’. BUT as Councils have had their budgets squeezed they have become slow to act and are reluctant to become involved in all but the most serious cases.

Until now tenants living in homes which were in poor condition or are hazardous to their health could not take their own legal action and had to instead rely on the Council to take action.

Under the new law tenants have the right to sue their Landlord if their home has one or more of the pre-defined hazards if the Landlord has been given notice of the problems but has refused to fix them in a reasonable time. A tenant can apply to Court to ask for an order requiring the Landlord to complete repairs and for compensation for any losses they have suffered as a result.

This new law may also help any tenants who are risking eviction over rent arrears as it can be possible to bring a counterclaim for compensation which can lower the arrears.

However, most tenants won’t benefit from the new law straight away. Only tenants who sign a new tenancy agreement after 20 March 2019 or those who’s fixed term ends after this date and who move onto a periodic ‘rolling’ tenancy; will benefit immediately.

But other tenants don’t have long to wait as the new law will apply to all tenancies regardless of the date they started from 20 March 2020.

Swain & Co advisers are experienced in representing tenants living in hazardous or poor conditions. If the disrepair is causing a serious risk to health & safety or if you are facing an eviction; you may be entitled to Legal Aid meaning your case could be FREE or available at a much reduced rate.

Whatever the issue you are having in your rented property call Swain & Co now and an adviser will be able to tell you whether you have a case and what help with funding could be available.

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