You will soon be able to sue your landlord if your rented home is damp or mouldy

Thursday, 5th March 2020, 12:20 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th March 2020, 12:20 pm

Tenants will soon be able to sue their landlord if their rented property is unfit for human habitation.

Both private and social renters are covered - provided they don’t have tenancies longer than seven years - and includes the common areas of buildings as well as your rooms.

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act was first introduced last year. However, it only applied to people who had either signed a new tenancy agreement or whose tenancy became a periodic tenancy (a month by month or week by week agreement) on or after 20 March 2019.

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Who is eligible?

As of 20 March 2020, everyone in England who has a secure or assured tenancy, a statutory tenancy, or a private periodic tenancy, can use the Homes Act, regardless of when their tenancy began. However, if you're still on the fixed term of a private tenancy that began before 20 March 2019, then you won't be able to use the act until the end of that fixed term.

As well as getting the work done, you can also get compensation from the landlord under the new rules - and far more than just damp is covered by the Act.

Shelter charity chief executive Polly Neate said, "It's shocking that renters all over the country are forced to live in substandard and unsafe homes so this is an important first step towards giving them the rights they need."

Shelter says private renters had previously had to rely on local authorities to look into poor conditions, while social tenants didn't have an effective way to hold their council to account.

What's covered by the new law?

Under the new rules, your landlord is in breach of the new law if there are serious defects in any of the following areas:

RepairStabilityFreedom from dampInternal arrangementNatural lightingVentilationWater supplyDrainage and sanitary conveniencesFacilities for preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water.

Shelter calculates that there are almost a million rented homes with hazards that pose a serious risk to health and safety at the moment - affecting about 2.5 million people.

The new law does not make landlords responsible if the damage or disrepair is caused by the tenants’ behaviour.

Heather Wheeler, minister for housing and homelessness when the Act came into force, commented, "This new law is a further step to ensure that tenants have the decent homes they deserve."