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Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018

From 20 March 2020, everyone who has a secure or assured tenancy, or a statutory tenancy, or a private periodic tenancy, can use the Homes Act regardless of when their tenancy began. Anyone who is still on the fixed term of a private tenancy that began before 20 March 2019 cannot use the Act until the end of that fixed term.

The Act applies to the social and private rented sectors and makes it clear that landlords must ensure that their property, including any common parts of the building, is fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout.

To achieve that, landlords will need to make sure that their property is free of hazards which are so serious that the dwelling is not reasonably suitable for occupation in that condition. Most landlords take their responsibility seriously and do this already.

Where a landlord fails to do so, the tenant has the right to take action in the courts for breach of contract on the grounds that the property is unfit for human habitation. The remedies available to the tenant are an order by the court requiring the landlord to take action to reduce or remove the hazard, and / or damages to compensate them for having to live in a property which was not fit for human habitation.

The Government has provided clear advice on self-isolation and social distancing for landlords, agents and tenants during the Coronavirus pandemic.

In light of this, the Council can confirm the following:

Landlords and agents

Advice for landlords/ agents where a request by a tenant for works has been made:

If a tenant makes a request for works to be carried out at their home, only essential works can now be carried out; for example if works relating to electrical, including smoke alarms & emergency lighting or gas services are needed.

More specific information about COVID-19 relating to gas safety can be found on the Gas Safe Register website.

Tenants

Advice for tenants where a request by the landlord/ agent has bee made to enter premises:

A landlord/ agent should only request access to carry out a repair or maintenance if the repair is essential, for example to maintain the supply of electricity or gas or to repair a fire alarm system or emergency lighting.

If a repair or maintenance is deemed essential and a contractor can be found to do the works, relevant checks need to be made. For example, whether the customer is unwell and is self-isolating.

If it then safe to do so, a contractor should be able to enter a premises to effect a repair wearing suitable protective equipment such as mask and gloves while maintaining the recommended safe distance from persons in the house.

Any works that can be carried out externally while adhering to current advice can also be carried out. All non-essential works should be carried when the Government reverses the current lockdown.

Eviction

From the 26 March 2020 landlords will have to give all renters 3 months’ notice if they intend to seek possession.

From 27 March 2020 the court service will suspend all housing possession action for at least 90 days. This means that any renters who have already been given notice to quit cannot be evicted through the courts for at least 90 days.

The extended notice period applies to notices served after the legislation comes into force until 30 September 2020. It does not apply to notice periods for licensees or lodgers.

Further information can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Government advice for renters during the COVID-19 Crisis

Advice can be found on the East Devon website and on GOV.UK.

COVID-19 and renting: guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities

East Devon landlord and tenant advice page

Advice for Private Water Supply Holders during the COVID-19 Crisis

Due to the exceptional risk posed by COVID19 to customers and staff, East Devon District Council has suspended routine private water sampling and risk assessment until further notice. However, if your sample is urgent we will consider requests on a case-by-case basis. In these circumstances or for general queries, please contact us at:

Tel.: 01395 571572

Email: pshousing@eastdevon.gov.uk

If you’re a person responsible for a private water supply, we recommend that you take additional measures to help ensure that your water supply remains wholesome during this period, including:

  • Carry out additional checks of accessible water infrastructure, such as tanks and treatments, to confirm they are operating effectively.
  • Make sure water infrastructure servicing is up to date and you have sufficient spare materials such as filters and UV bulbs.
  • Consider the potential extra demand for water from domestic customers, due to self-isolation, home working, etc. If your supply or treatments do not have the required capacity, make alternative provision.

In addition, The World Health Organisation has also produced a guidance document regarding the management of water supplies and COVID19.