Fit for Habitation Act March 2019
The ACT is intended to define minimum standards a rental property MUST be and makes a clearer pathway way for Tenants to be compensated. This Act will only fuel the compo culture for some tenants
In many respects this legislation is a duplication of existing legislation in that
A Tenant can already not be evicted where disrepair, Preventing Retaliatory Eviction
The new laws affirms – There are no new obligations for landlords under this Act;the legislation requires landlords to ensure that they are meeting their existing responsibilities with regards to property standards and safety. For clarity as is The Landlord already has clear Maintenance and Repair Obligations in that they are duty bound by Legislation examples Section 11 Repairs and The 29 Hazards – HHSRS to provide a minimum standard of housing / fit for purpose housing.
Under existing laws the Tenant can already sue for injury and or repair using Protocol for Housing Disrepair Cases and cite a Landlords failure to repair was contrary to their peace and quiet enjoyment – Protection from Eviction Act 1977
Where this Legislation differs is it raises the penalties [Tenant Compo Culture is the threat here] and reduces the burden of proof on the tenant – and that this is the trap door where landlords can fall foul.
The Act makes it clear that landlords must ensure that their property, including any common parts of the building, is fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout.
Landlords will need to make sure that their property remains from Hazards [see HHSRS] which are so serious that the dwelling is not reasonably suitable for occupation in that condition.
Where a landlord fails to do so, the tenant has the right to take action in the courts for breach of contract on the grounds that the property is unfit for human habitation. The remedies available to the tenant are an order by the court requiring the landlord to take action to reduce or remove the hazard, and / or damages to compensate them for having to live in a property which was not fit for human habitation.
Tenant compensation Currently there are no specified limits on the level of compensation that can be awarded, and this is at the discretion of the judge having considered the evidence.
The golden rules to protect you FROM SPURIOUS CLAIMS
Your inventory must good – preferably digital/video so you can proof a moment in time the condition the property was provided to the tenant.
Keep records of Tenants Requests and your effort to perform your duties- including where a tenant obstructs you in your performance – This forms part of a landlord defensive position [rear guard action] in that the Tenancy not conducted in a tenant like manner Deregulation Bill 2015] and the problem is caused by tenant behaviour / possessions a defence permitted under the Fit for Habitation Act March 2019