65% of tenants not aware of new Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act
51% of renters have experienced damp or mould in their homes
– The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act came into force on 20th March 2019. According to the UK Government, the purpose of this Act is to ensure that rented properties are:
fit for human habitation’, which means that it’s safe, healthy and free from things that could cause you or anyone else in your household serious harm. For example, if your house or flat is too cold and you can’t heat it, this can affect your health.
The Act provides tenants with enhanced rights to take action against landlords who fail to ensure that their properties are ‘fit for human habitation.’
Safeguard Europe wanted to know what proportion of tenants were aware of their new rights and also to find out which building defects they had experienced which might render their home not ‘fit for human habitation.’ Working with leading pollsters, YouGov, they commissioned a poll of 1154 tenants in the UK who currently rent their home from a private landlord, housing association, or local authority.
With regard to awareness of the new Act, headline figures were as follows
- 65% of respondents were not aware of the new Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018
- 42% of respondents would be more likely to complain to their landlord/ housing association about defects in their rented home a result of the new Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018
Government guidance related to the new Act, highlights a number of problems and defects that can affect rented properties, potentially making them ‘unfit for human habitation.’ YouGov asked the tenants which of these they had experienced in any of the properties that they had rented. The results are shown in the graph below:
The top response was “Damp and Mould” at 51.48%, showing that this continues to be a major issue in the rented sector.
Drilling down into the data, an unexpected observation is that tenants with higher monthly rent bills are more likely to report having suffered from damp and mould:
Those renting from private landlords were more likely to have experienced problems with damp and mould than those renting from housing associations or local authorities:
Damp and mould by landlord type
% experienced damp and mould by landlord type according to our Yougov poll:
- Renting from private landlord 55%
- Renting from local authority 46%
- Renting from housing association 46%
This may be a reflection of the fact that previous attempts to improve the quality of rented accommodation (Decent Homes Standard, etc…) have tended to focus on housing associations and local authorities rather than the private rented sector.
Damp and mould by region
% by region (renting from private or social landlord) according to our Yougov poll:
- Wales 51%
- Scotland 40%
- Northern Ireland 41%
- North East 39%
- North West 52%
- Yorkshire & Humber 51%
- East Midlands 39%
- West Midlands 42%
- East of England 60%
- London 63%
- South East 56%
- South West 53%
Commenting on the findings of the survey, Safeguard Europe’s Managing Director, Hudson Lambert said:
Although it is disappointing that 65% of tenants are unaware of the new Act, it is still early days as it only came into law a few weeks ago.
Sadly, the fact that damp and mould topped the list of defects affecting rented properties came as little surprise. In many cases, these problems can be easily resolved through early intervention and regular maintenance. However there is a tendency to allow them build up until they become critical, at which point they can be more costly and complicated to resolve.
A discussion of the responsibilities of landlords with regardness to dampness in rented properties under the new Act – https://www.safeguardeurope.com/articles/edt1-idt2-dampness-and-landlords-responsibilities
A previous (2016) YouGov poll commssioned by Safeguard Europe examined the attitudes of potential property purchasers to various building defects including dampness – https://www.safeguardeurope.com/news/053-080916-house-buyers-scared-off-by-damp
To view a complete summary of the poll findings, the full YouGov report can be downloaded here