Taking legal action over an unfit home

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 came into force on 20 March 2019. In brief this law:

  • requires landlords to ensure that their homes are free from serious hazards.
  • gives tenants have the right to take court action if the property is unfit for human habitation.
  • provides the legal powers for a court to force the landlord to reduce or remove the hazard, or award damages.

More broadly, landlords must ensure that their property, including any common parts of the building, is fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout. To achieve that, landlords will need to ensure that their property is free of hazards which are so serious that the dwelling is not reasonably suitable for occupation in that condition. Where a landlord fails to do so, the tenant has the right to take action in the courts for breach of contract on the grounds that the property is unfit for human habitation. The remedies available to the tenant are an order by the court requiring the landlord to take action to reduce or remove the hazard, and / or damages to compensate them for having to live in a property which was not fit for human habitation.

Government guidance on the new act is available for both tenants and landlords. 

For practical advice on this area, you may wish to contact the following local advice agencies:

Citizens Advice Bureau, Derbyshire Law CentreDHA (Direct Help and Advice) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 01332 287850 or contact Shelter's national advice service.