I am delighted, and delighted for Karen Buck MP, to be able to say that her Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill now has government support as well as that of the Labour opposition. (Previous posts on the then draft Bill are here and here).
There have been some interesting developments as a result of (rapid but positive) discussions and draftings with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (as it is is now).
For example, what would be the new L&TA 1985 section 8A(4)
Section 8 applies to a periodic or secure tenancy that is in existence on the commencement date, but in the case of any such tenancy the covenant implied by that section has effect in the following way—
(a) subsection (1)(a) of that section has effect as if the reference to the later of the times there mentioned were a reference to the time that begins at the end of the period of 12 months beginning with the commencement date, and
(b) subsection (1)(b) of that section has effect only in respect of times falling after the end of that 12 month period.
So, the implied fitness term would apply for new tenancies (of less than 7 years term) after the commencement date, but also apply to any existing periodic tenancies (secure, or assured or statutory periodic) that exist at commencement date with effect a year thereafter.
The ‘matters to which regard should be had’ on deciding fitness, at what would be the new section 10 LTA 1985 are defined as follows:
In section 10 (fitness for human habitation)—
(a)the existing text becomes subsection (1);
(b)in that subsection—
(i)for “house”, in both places where it occurs, substitute “dwelling”;
(ii)after “facilities for preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water” insert— ““any prescribed hazard;”;”
(c)after that subsection insert—
“(2)In subsection (1) “prescribed hazard” means any matter or circumstance amounting to a hazard for the time being
prescribed in regulations made by the Secretary of State under section 2 of the Housing Act 2004.
(3)The definition of “hazard” in section 2(1) of the Housing Act 2004 applies for the purposes of subsection (2) as though the reference to a potential occupier were omitted.””
So, as things are now, that would be the list of prescribed hazards in Schedule 1 of The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (England) Regulations 2005.
The definition of “hazard” at section 2(1) Housing Act 2004 reads:
“hazard” means any risk of harm to the health or safety of an actual or potential occupier of a dwelling or HMO which arises from a deficiency in the dwelling or HMO or in any building or land in the vicinity (whether the deficiency arises as a result of the construction of any building, an absence of maintenance or repair, or otherwise).
So, that is, in effect, the threshold definition of a hazard to which regard should be had in determining unfitness.
There are landlord access provisions – as per the section 11 regime in effect – on 24 hours written notice, to inspect and/or carry out works.
There is some way to go, and some bits that still need addressing at committee stage, and of course there are still the real risks of getting talked out at second reading – so we still need the 100 MPs to attend, but government support is a very, very welcome development and gives a good following wind for the prospects of the Bill becoming an Act.