Is your home fit for habitation?

Landlords have 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 or safety issues 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

Landlords must make sure your home is fit to live in throughout your tenancy.

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 applies to most tenancies regardless of when they started.

This includes if you rent from:

  • the council
  • a housing association
  • a private landlord or letting agent

If you have a fixed term private or housing association tenancy which began before 20 March 2019 it will only be covered if you either:

  • sign a new agreement
  • stay on as a tenant when the fixed term ends

If you have an introductory council tenancy which started before 20 March 2019 it won't be covered until it becomes a secure tenancy.

Lodgers, temporary housing and licence agreements

If you have a licence agreement rather than a tenancy you won't be covered by the 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 19 Mar 2020 | © Shelter

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