This is a very complex area of law. To find out what your rights are you need to look at a number of different laws and types of law which cover this area, most of which cover different issues and have different remedies.
All I can do here is just list the main areas of law which apply. These fall under the civil law and the criminal law (if you do not know the difference between the two >> click here).
The Landlords Statutory Repairing Covenants
These are legal obligations which are imposed on all landlords of residential rented properties where there is a term of less than seven years. They are found in Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. They provide that
Under this section the landlord is responsible for keeping in repair (1) the structure and exterior of the property; and (2) the installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity, sanitation, space heating and heating water
- the structure and exterior of the property; and
- the installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity, sanitation, space heating and heating water
More recently, after the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 came into force, landlords have had to ensure that a property is fit for human habitation at the start of and throughout the life of the tenancy and has no category 1 ‘hazards’ under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (see below).
Local Authority Powers
The Housing Act 2004 laid down standards which all residential property (not just private rented property) is supposed to comply with. If these standards are not met then this is a criminal offence.
These standards are generally enforced by the relevant Local Authority, usually after carrying out a Housing Health and Safety Rating System Inspection – where the property is assessed against 29 health and safety standards.
If the landlord fails to bring the property up to standard, the Local Authority can serve an improvement notice on the landlord, which can be enforced via criminal proceedings in the Magistrates Court.
For tenancies which are started or renewed on or after 1 October 2015, note that a landlord cannot serve a valid section 21 notice for six months after service of one of these notices.
Local Authorities most commonly use these powers in connection with HMOs and the licensing rules.
The Environmental Protection Act 1990
This Act deals largely with various aspects of pollution and statutory nuisances and measures to control them. It is enforced by Local Authorities and, in appropriate cases, is an alternative to their powers under the Housing Act 2004.
Claims can also be made by tenants – see the blog posts below relating to the claims brought by solicitor Timothy Waitt of Anthony Gold.
Regulations relating to specific hazards and problems
The main areas are as follow:
- The gas safety regulations – landlords must get all gas appliances inspected annually by an inspector registered with the Gas Safety Register and serve a certificate on the tenants – see the HSE website here.
- The Furniture and Furnishings regulations – furniture in rented properties must be fire safe and carry the proper notices
- Asbestos – this is a recognised hazard – for more information see the HSE website here.
- Legionnaires’ disease – this is another hazard – see the HSE website here.
Further information about this complex area of law is found in the articles below.
Landlord Law Blog Posts
- Tenants legal help – five tips on repair problems in rented properties
- Tenants legal help – five points on your rights about electricity
- Tenants legal help – condensation and damp
- Guilty landlord fined for damp and mould
- G is for Gas Regulation
- Gas safety checks – can landlords do them anyway even if tenants say no?
- Regulations re furniture for rented properties
- Considering fitness for Human Habitation and rented properties