The Welsh Government has launched a consultation on draft regulations and guidance to implement the Fitness for Human Habitation requirements for rented properties introduced by the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016.
Under Section 91 of the Act, landlords must ensure that their properties are “fit for human habitation” both at the start and for the full duration of a tenancy (now called "contracts").
This consultation sets out the draft regulations and guidance that defines what constitutes “fit for human habitation”. In determining whether a property is fit for human habitation, regard will be given to 29 matters and circumstances:
- Damp and mould growth
- Asbestos and manufactured mineral fibres
- Carbon monoxide and fuel combustion products
- Uncombusted fuel gas
- Volatile organic compounds
- Electrical hazards
- Excess cold
- Excess heat
- Crowding and space
- Entry by intruders
- Lighting (including natural)
- Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse
- Food safety
- Personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage
- Water supply for domestic purposes
- Falls associated with baths etc.
- Falls on the level
- Falls associated with stairs and steps
- Falls between levels
- Hot surfaces and materials
- Collision and entrapment
- Position and operability of amenities
- Structural collapse and falling elements
On top of this, there will be three specific requirements imposed on landlords, and if they are not met then the property will be deemed unfit for human habitation:
- Smoke alarms on every floor used as living accommodation
- Carbon monoxide detectors in any room which has a gas, oil or solid fuel burning appliance installed
- Electrical safety testing at least every 5 years
Where a tenant believes their dwelling is not fit for human habitation, they may take court proceedings against the landlord for breach of contract. Such proceedings may result in an order for specific action to remedy the problem and/or an order for compensation.
A landlord who rents a dwelling which is not fit for human habitation, or who fails to rectify an issue causing the dwelling to be unfit, may also risk having their landlord licence revoked under Rent Smart Wales.
It is important to note that the existing duties under the Housing Act 2004 regarding HHSRS enforcement remain and will not be altered by the new Fit for Human Habitation requirement.