Cold weather is on its way, how are you going to cope? How may it impact you?

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 came into force in March 2020 for all tenants who are living in social or privately rented properties.

Some breaches and hazards that were previously disregarded, can now give tenants the right to take action against their landlords in the courts for a breach of contract. Tenants can seek an order by the court requiring the landlord to reduce or remove the hazard, and/or pay damages to compensate them for having to live in a property in disrepair.

We can now look at some of the issues that may contribute to the upsurge in the landlord receiving complaints this time around.

Cold creeping in
Is the property constantly cold? The usual room temperature is 21°C.

If the temperate is constantly below this, it could be classed as excessively cold, leading to serious health implications. The elderly and children can be more at risk in these situations and a cold property, which is not able to be kept sufficiently warm, can be a serious breach.

  • Are windows defective?
  • Is the external door secured properly?
  • Are there any gaps in the brickwork externally?
  • Are there any gaping holes in the walls?
  • Damp and Mould beginning to appear
    • Do walls feel moist upon touch? If yes, act sooner rather than later. Damp inside the property can lead to mould growth and what may start as small spores of mould around the property can quickly lead to mould around flooring and furniture.
  • Where is the damp originating from?
  • Is it rising damp? Or a leaking roof?
  • Has there been a shoddy plumbing job the landlord did not undertake to its full standard?
    • As soon as you have determined the source, be sure to report immediately.
  • A steady supply of hot and cold water?
  • Is there hot and cold water available? Is the boiler working and performing the duties it needs? If there is no hot water, this can lead to serious health implications, for one bathing will become an issue, especially in the cold winter months and hot water used for washing will not be available.
  • Is there adequate water supplies, including cold water?
    Are there any exposed or burst piping, again report this immediately.
  • Sockets not working or they have become faulty
    • If any of the sockets within the property are not working, this is again a serious breach by the landlord. This could be dangerous and poses a real hazard within your property, do not overlook it. Do not wait for faulty sockets to completely stop working, if you see a fault report it.
  • Have any sockets become damaged
    Have any stopped working? Please take a look closely and report.
  • Ceiling elements falling down or from other parts of the property?
  • Gusty windows and downpours are not going to help in any way. Make sure you report the cause of this and take pictures of any damage that this has caused and any further damage the weather may cause.
  • What is causing this problem?
  • Personal hygiene and sanitation
  • Are there any issues within your property that are preventing you from maintaining hygiene and sanitation?

Sink blockages, toilet pipe leaks, defective showerheads and excess water leakage in the bathroom? If this is the case, report straight away.

Once reported, your landlord is required to make the repairs. If the landlord has not adhered to their obligation and has not made the repairs within a reasonable period of time then they are unable to argue that they have made reasonable efforts to make the home fit for human habitation.

It is very important that you keep note of any efforts you have made to report the disrepair within your property. Emailing your report is a useful way of notifying your landlord and at the same time having a record of the same. Keep copies of any letters you have sent to your landlord or record the date, time and person you spoke to if you reported the disrepair by phone. Take and keep photographs of the disrepair, this could be vital evidence in proving your case against your landlord.

You have the right to take action and exercise your right to live in a property free from disrepair. If you have any concerns, take independent legal advice immediately.
Omar Khalid is a solicitor specialising in Housing Disrepair at Fairmont Legal. If you need advice or assistance please do not hesitate to contact Omar on 01204 866 597 or email to arrange a free initial consultation.

Any questions feel free to call someone in our specialist Housing Condition/Disrepair department for free advice!

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