The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill which was passed on 20 December 2018, comes in to force on 20 March 2019. This piece of legislation will affect all property professionals and residential landlords.
Quite simply “tenants will have the right to take legal action if landlords fail to keep properties in a state that is fit for human habitation.” This comes in to force on 20 March 2019.
There are 29 listed hazards in the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill and only 2 exceptions from being held liable if found to be failing in these areas. “Natural disaster” and “a tenant failing to use a dwelling in a tenant-like manner”.
NUMBER ONE on the list is “Damp & mould growth”
So, if you have a property that is showing signs of mould, fungus, or dust mites then you will need to take some action to sort this as it can lead to a range of health threats such as allergies, asthma and fungal infection toxins.
The duty on ALL residential landlords is by implying a covenant in to a residential tenancy to ensure that the property is fit for human habitation at the BEGINNING of the tenancy AND THROUGHOUT.
The biggest problem is being aware of the potential issues before they arise and keeping on top of property maintenance throughout a tenancy. This ensures that your property is staying up to standard.
It can be very easy to assume that all is well at a property.
You haven’t heard from the tenant for a while, the rent is coming in, so you may fall in to the trap of “best leave alone” or “don’t want to upset the apple cart!” Turning this on its head, if you have these thoughts then your tenants may also have them: “don’t call the landlord out they may increase the rent!”
As an agent we recommend regular inspections.
Whilst it may mean a small maintenance cost in the long run it can save you money and keep your tenant. There is nothing worse than feeling that someone is taking money off you but doesn’t care about your needs. Building a relationship is key, but obviously a professional one with a common-sense approach. This attitude also means that you will hopefully have a more level budgeted maintenance plan rather than waiting to the end of a tenancy and facing large bills to bring a property up to standard.
The inspections also provide an opportunity to educate your tenants.
In the example of condensation, you will often find damp washing on radiators, or extractor fans not being used in bathrooms, poor ventilation is another example. It is very easy to have a friendly chat and explain how to prevent and avoid the condensation and give sensible suggestions of alternatives. A simple idea is providing a clothes airer in a furnished property for example.
In addition, having a conversation with your tenant also enables you to be aware of any possible moves that they may be considering.
You may be able to retain them if they have any issues that can be rectified, for example if you have a particularly good tenant who would like a small pet and has assumed that as your tenancy does not allow pets that they would have to move, you might wish to consider allowing this with the right clauses being put in to the agreement. If they are going to have to move come what may – for example a job move, you will probably be able to get them on side but presenting the property well for viewings, and if you or your agent has done a good job, then they are likely to sing your praises – that goes along way with prospective tenants as they have all seen the nightmare stories promoted on television!
So not only are you avoiding possible penalties for noncompliance, and a breach of contract, but you are also improving your chances of having a smoother tenancy and keeping your investment protected.
“HELP!” You might shout, I have 101 other things that I need to do! Well luckily professional agents will already be looking in to this for you and making sure that your obligations are being exercised in the most efficient and pro-active way.
It is important to remember that we have only mentioned ONE category here! There are a further 28, so having a robust checking system is of paramount importance. Pleading ignorance is no defence, so using an agent who keeps closely up to date with the fast-moving legislative changes, puts measures in to place to ensure compliance and has your interests at heart is a great solution.
Talk to us today, it costs nothing and may save you a lot of hassle and unnecessary expense! Feel free to email us or call us on 0191 478 3456.