Fitness Standards and Repair

Published on 2015-08-11

Fitness

Fitness of a dwelling is related to the health and safety of the people living there. Relatively minor defects may result in a property being classed as unfit because the faults are harmful to the health of the occupants.

Repair

Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, landlords have legal duties to keep in repair the:

  • Structure and exterior of the property including drains, gutters and external pipes, the roof, external walls and foundations
  • Installations for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for heating water and heating the premises
  • Sanitary ware such as baths, basins and toilets.

The landlord can consider the age and character of the property and where it is located when it comes to the standard and level of repair. For example, if a tenant is living in a Victorian property, the landlord is not obliged to replace window frames with modern plastic units.

If a landlord does not carry out repairs that are their responsibility, in certain cases the tenant has the right to withhold the rent. They will be expected to repay the landlord once the work is done.

The Landlord is not expected to repair or maintain any items that the tenant has broken through negligence or misuse. The tenant must repair anything they are liable for under the tenancy or that they have damaged.

Access

Landlords have a legal duty to carry out certain repairs and there is an implied right for landlords (or anyone authorised by them in writing) on giving at least 24 hours’ written notice, to enter the premises to inspect for repairs or carry out work.

Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

The fitness standards for dwellings have been replaced by the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). HHSRS is a procedure to assess the risks to health and safety in residential properties. It assesses 29 categories of housing hazard. The hazards that can be assessed are grouped under headings:

  • Physiological requirements (including damp and mould growth, excess cold, excess heat)
  • Psychological requirements (including crowding and space, lighting and noise)
  • Protection against infection (including food safety, domestic hygiene, pests and refuse)
  • Protection from accidents (including electrical hazards, fire, hot surfaces and explosions).

Hazards are given a score and placed in 10 bands (A-J). A-C hazards are classed as category 1 while D-J hazards are classed as category 2. The local authority must take action for a category 1 hazard and may choose whether or not to take action for a category 2 hazard.

Enforcement

Local authorities can take a variety of action, including improvement notices requiring remedial works, prohibition orders (either closing the whole or part of a building or restricting the number of permitted occupants), hazard awareness notices, or take emergency action or issue demolition or clearance orders. They can also serve notices on the landlord or on the agent requiring action to be taken.

Categories: Residential Lettings