The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 will bring to Wales similar obligations placed on Landlords in England by the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.
The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 requires Landlords in England to ensure that properties are fit for human habitation. The implementation of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 (“the Act”) on 15 July 2022 is set to bridge the gap, requiring properties in Wales to also be fit for human habitation.
By s92 of the Act, Landlords will be required to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the property and keep in repair and proper working order the service installations in the property. This is already a requirement in Wales by s11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
By s91 of the Act, Landlords will also need to ensure that their properties are fit for habitation on the occupation date of the contract and for the duration of the contract. The requirement will be a fundamental provision which is incorporated as a term of all secure contracts, periodic standard contracts and fixed term standard contracts made for a term of less than 7 years.
In determining whether a property is fit for human habitation, regard must be had to the presence or reoccurrence, or the likely presence or reoccurrence, of the matters and circumstances listed in the Schedule of the Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) (Wales) Regulations 2022 (“the FFHH Regulations”). They include 29 matters and circumstances, including but not limited to, damp and mould, cold, heat, light, entry by intruders and noise.
The Act does not impose any liability on a Landlord if the property is unfit for human habitation wholly or mainly because of an act or omission of the contract holder or a permitted occupier of the property. The Landlord is not obliged to carry out any works or repairs if the issue is wholly or mainly attribution to lack of care by the contract-holder or a permitted occupier of the property.
The Landlords’ obligations under the Act do not arise until the Landlord becomes aware that the works or repairs are necessary. Once notice is received, the Landlord will have a reasonable period of time to carry out any required works. Where the works are not carried out within a reasonable period of time, the contract holder can bring a claim for disrepair/unfitness, seeking damages and requiring the Landlord to carry out the required works. It is therefore important that Landlords ensure works are carried out as soon as possible upon receiving notice.
In addition to the above, the Regulations place requirement on Landlords to help ensure some of the 29 matters and circumstance do not arise. In the event that a Landlord fails to comply with the requirements, the property will be treated as unfit for human habitation. The requirements imposed on Landlords include:
1. Ensuring the presence of smoke alarms in proper working order. The Regulations require smoke alarms to be present on every storey of a property. They must be in proper working order, connected to the electrical supply and inter-linked with all other smoke alarms connected to the electrical supply. Landlords should ensure that regular inspections are carried out to ensure compliance. Where a property is subject to an occupation contact which converted from an existing contract on the date of implementation, Landlords will not be required to install a smoke alarm for the period of up to twelve months from the date of conversion. If the converted contract is ended, this exemption will no longer apply.
2. Ensuring the presence of carbon monoxide alarms in proper working order. The Regulations require Landlords to ensure that a carbon monoxide alarm is present in any room which has a gas, oil or solid fuel burning appliance installed. The requirement does not replace any duties imposed on Landlords by existing legislation.
3. Ensuring the inspection and testing of the electrical installation. Landlords should carry out periodic inspection and testing (PIT) and be issued with an Electrical Installation and Condition Report. Landlords should carry out testing every 5 years unless the requirements of the previous EICR indicate a shorter period for testing. The current EICR must be made available to the contract-holder within 7 days of the occupation date. Where a PIT is carried out after the occupation date, the EICR must be provided to the contract-holder within 7 days of the inspection. Landlords are also required, within 7 days of the occupation date, to provide the contract-holder with written confirmation of all investigatory and remedial work carried out as a result of the PIT. If the work is carried out after the occupation date, this written confirmation should be provided within 7 days of the Landlord receiving the confirmation. Where the property is subject to a converted occupation contract, the requirement of PIT will not apply for 12 months from the date of conversion. If the converted contract is ended, this exemption will no longer apply.
Landlords should ensure that they are familiar with the requirement set out above prior to implementation of the Act, currently set for July this year.
For more information, please contact James Hardwick.