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May 13, 2020

Landlord and tenants asbestos debate

 
 
 

On the 20 March 2019 The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 came into force. This effectively amended the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 and provides that homes let under short term tenancies of less than 7 years, have to be fit for human habitation at the start of the tenancy and must remain so throughout the duration of the tenancy. Landlords were given a years’ period of grace to get their houses in order and all premises let under short term leases must now be fit for human habitation.

WE Solicitors are frequently contacted by people with concerns about asbestos in their property. Generally these enquiries are from concerned tenants who believe they have asbestos in their home but it is in good condition and therefore, in all likelihood, will not be hazardous to health if left undisturbed and managed effectively by the landlord. There are however a growing number of calls from council or housing association tenants where contractors have carried out work in their home at the request of the landlord and left the asbestos in a dangerous state of disrepair.

In this situation if the asbestos is in a degraded and dangerous condition then it is likely the property would be considered unfit for human occupation. In such circumstances it is essential to notify a landlord immediately of the issues. A tenant must grant the landlord access to the property and afford them the opportunity to repair the problem. It is usual in these situations for the landlord to instruct a surveyor or licenced asbestos contractor to inspect the property and prepare a report.

If a landlord is unwilling to take any action or simply ignores calls for action then it is important to seek legal advice straight away. The organisation Shelter have an extremely useful page full of information, see the link below:

https://england.shelter.org.uk/legal/housing_conditions/Contractual_rights_including_implied_terms/fitness_for_human_habitation

No doubt as new cases are heard at court under The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 the situation of whether or not the natural deterioration of asbestos within a premises over time constitutes a lack of repair or is a failure to “make safe” a dangerous existing feature of a property will become clear.

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