News and Events

Why Law Change Means Tenants Can Fight Back At Landlords

A change in the law which took effect last week is good news for people renting a house, as Tilly Bailey & Irvine Law Firm’s specialist solicitors explain….

Most landlords are reasonable and keep their properties in good condition, but for those who do not, the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act, which came into effect on 20th March, will ensure that tenants have legal recourse. 

The Act imposes duties on landlords in relation to the condition of their properties, and is intended to ensure that houses and flats are “fit for human habitation”, which means that they have to be safe, healthy and free from things that could cause serious harm.

Common problems that are encountered are things like mould and damp, and broken boilers, but the Act has a list of 29 things which must be properly maintained, which cover almost every eventuality.

Needless to say, tenants who live in poorly maintained properties are more likely to suffer injuries, such as trips and falls, injury from falling objects or electrical hazards. There are also increased risks of illnesses such as chest problems from damp or mould, especially in the elderly or other vulnerable tenants.

However, you do not need to have suffered injury in order to bring court proceedings against a landlord who fails to make reasonable repairs.

If you have problems with disrepair you should firstly contact your landlord and ask him to rectify the problem. Repairs should be carried out within a reasonable period of time. If the landlord fails to do so, you can then take legal action. You may at this stage also contact your Local Authority’s Environmental Health Department, as they will inspect the property and make a report which could be used in evidence. You should also keep copies of any communication with the landlord.

The matter will be listed for a short hearing before a Judge who will order the landlord to effect whatever repairs are deemed necessary, and may also order the landlord to pay compensation to the tenant. There is no fixed limit on such compensation, but it will be determined taking into account how bad the problem is and what effect if any it has had on the tenant’s health.

If you require assistance in bringing a claim against your landlord, contact our specialist team of Teesside solicitors at Tilly Bailey & Irvine Law Firm on 0333 444 4422. We have offices in Hartlepool, Stockton-on-Tees, Wynyard and Barnard Castle.