Is my home fit to live in?
- Your landlord has a responsibility to make sure your home meets ‘fitness for human habitation’ standards.
- If you have a new occupation contract, your home should be fit to live in from the beginning of the contract until you move out
- You might be able to take court action if your home is not fit to live in
Which renting agreements are covered
The rule that rented homes are fit to live in applies to all occupation contracts except fixed term standard contracts of 7 years or more.
This includes if you rent from:
- a community landlord
- a private landlord
What renting agreements are not covered?
If you do not have a secure or standard occupation contract you will not be covered by the fitness rules. You might not have an occupation contract if you live in some temporary or supported accommodation with a licence or common law tenancy or your renting agreement comes under another exception.
However, even if your renting agreement is not covered by the fitness rules, your landlord will probably be responsible for the repairs and ensuring that the property does not present a serious hazard. Get help if you are unsure.
What makes a home unfit to live in?
Whether your home is fit to live in or not will usually depend upon a number of factors but there are certain things that have to be done. Your landlord must ensure that your home has:
If your occupation contract began on or after 1 December 2022, and any of the above has not been done then your home would be classed as unfit to live in.
If you moved in before 1 December 2022
If you moved into your home before 1 December 2022 you have a converted contract. Your landlord has until 30 November 2023 to install working smoke alarms and provide an electrical report.
Other poor conditions that could make your home unfit
There are other things that should be taken into account in deciding whether your home is fit to live in. These are the same as the Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS) used by the council. They include:
- damp and mould growth
- excessive cold or heat
- risk of falls
- risk of rats, mice or other pests
- fire risks
- structural or internal disrepair
For a full list of the conditions that are taken into account in deciding whether a home is fit to live in, please see Welsh government’s guidance for contract-holders.
If your home does have some of these poor conditions it doesn’t always mean it is unfit to live in. Your home is only unfit if the problems in the property make it unreasonable to live there. This could be because the conditions:
- seriously affect your health
- cause a high risk of physical harm or injury
- prevent you from making full use of your home
If you think your home is not fit to live in, you will probably have to show that the conditions or safety issues are so bad that it’s not reasonable for you to live there.
When might the landlord not have to act?
In some cases your landlord might not agree with you about whether your home is fit to live in. You might be able to take court action so the court can decide if the landlord needs to take action. It may be very useful to get evidence, such as an environmental health or surveyor’s report.
There are some circumstances when the landlord does not have a legal responsibility to act even if your home is unfit to live in. These include:
What you can do if your home is not fit to live in
You should check what your contract says about paying rent if your home is not fit to live in. Even if your contract says that rent is not due when the property is unfit, it is best to keep rent aside so that you can pay it if a court decides that your home is fit. If you don’t pay the rent your landlord might try to evict you. If you are a standard contract-holder and fall into serious rent arrears of 2 months or more it will be easier for your landlord to evict you (see below).
You can take court action if you think your home is unfit to live in.
The court could order your landlord to:
- carry out any work needed to make the property fit
- if the work is urgent, order it to be done immediately
- pay you compensation
Court action can be very expensive and complicated. To find out more, please read our advice about court action for repairs or fitness.
Can your landlord evict you instead of making your home fit to live in?
If you have a secure contract, your landlord can’t evict you unless you have breached your contract.
If you have a standard contract and your landlord gives you a ‘no fault’ eviction notice (section 173) or landlord’s break clause you might be able to argue in court that it is a retaliatory eviction.
However, if you have a private landlord and are given notice for serious rent arrears you won’t be able to use this argument, and will lose your home if the court decide in the landlord’s favour.
If you have a community landlord, you can ask the court to review the landlord’s decision to give a ‘no fault’ or notice for serious rent arrears. You will need an adviser or solicitor to help, as reviews can be complicated.
If you ask your landlord to make your home fit to live in and they give you notice, get help.