As the buzz around the Fitness for Human Habitation Bill (likely to be passed later this year) builds, there’s still a huge grey area about what it will mean for landlords – and agents.
What we do know is that the Bill will include 29 of the hazards listed in the existing Health and Safety Regulation System (HHSRS), tightening up the legislation around repairs. What we don’t know is how much further it intends to go and what powers it will grant those who have to enforce it (enforcing it is currently the responsibility of the local council, which often lacks the resources or personnel to respond effectively).
No excuses for agents
But regardless of how far the Bill goes – or even if it’s passed at all – what is clear is that ‘not knowing’ is no longer any excuse for managing agents. As the legislation around this area crystallises (whether the Bill goes through or not) managing agents will find themselves equally as affected by regulations as landlords – and equally as responsible.
Because not only could they lose a valuable stream of revenue if properties that they let and manage are forced off the market, it’s possible they could be also be held responsible for the poor conditions.
Knowledge is power
To avoid repercussions, managing agents will need to know the HHSRS checklist like the back of their hand. While most people can spot exposed wires hanging out of a wall, unless they’re familiar with HHSRS checklist, they won’t be aware that the ergonomics of the dwelling – and the risk of physical strain from its furniture and dimension – is also included on the list of potential habits. Other things like the focus on specific lighting levels will also fall through the net if managing agents don’t do their homework. And the consequences of not staying informed could be more severe than just a loss of income.
Because the Bill is believed to include the right for tenants to take legal action against their landlords if their home is deemed unsafe, managing agents who don’t stay updated could find themselves in court. Until we know more about the Bill it’s impossible to predict how likely this scenario is but both the Bill and the enthusiasm propelling it through Parliament are enough to tell us that change is coming and agents need to prepare for it now.
For more information about the Bill and to ensure that your properties stay on the right side of it, why now download our free eBook, The HHSRS Checklist: A Key Part of the Fitness for Human Habitation Bill.