Is your home fit for habitation?

From 20 March 2019 landlords have new responsibilities to make sure their properties are fit for human habitation.

When is a home unfit for habitation?

A rented home is 'unfit for habitation' when conditions are so bad that it's not reasonable for you to live there.

This could be because the poor conditions: 

  • affect your health seriously
  • put you at risk of physical harm or injury
  • mean you can't make full use of your home

From 20 March 2019 landlords must make sure a property is fit to live in from the start of your tenancy until you leave.

What makes a home unfit

Examples of things that could make a home unfit include:

Your home is only unfit if the problems in the property make it unsuitable to live there while in that condition.

Which tenancies are covered

The rule that a rented home is fit to live in won't affect all tenancies immediately. 

From 20 March 2019

Most new tenancies that start on or after 20 March 2019 are covered. 

The exception is if you signed the contract or agreed to it before this date.

If your tenancy began before 20 March 2019, the fitness rule will start to apply if you:

  • sign a new agreement
  • stay on as a tenant at the end of a fixed term tenancy
  • get an assured housing association tenancy after a starter tenancy   

From 20 March 2020

Most tenancies are covered from this date regardless of when they started.

The exception is a fixed term tenancy which started before 20 March 2019. 

If you have one of these, your home will only be covered if you sign a new agreement or stay on as a tenant when the fixed term ends.

Lodgers, temporary housing and licence agreements

If you have a licence agreement rather than a tenancy you won't be covered by the new fitness rules.  

You probably have a licence if you're:

  • in temporary housing or a hostel
  • a lodger who lives with your landlord

What you can do if your home is unfit

You can take court action if you think your home is unfit to live in.

The court could order your landlord to:

  • carry out any work needed 
  • pay you compensation

Court action should be a last resort. You need to show what other steps you took to try and get the landlord to resolve the problem.

Last updated 15 Mar 2019 | © Shelter

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