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Housing Disrepair

Home » Personal Legal Services » Litigation and Dispute Resolution » Housing Disrepair

Introduction

As a tenant, whether private or through a Council or Housing Association, your landlord has a duty to ensure that your property is maintained to an acceptable standard. Although most tenants enjoy a good relationship with their landlord, there are occasions when elements of disrepair are either not dealt with adequately or at all.

At Oakwood Solicitors, we have a dedicated and knowledgeable Housing Disrepair team who can assist with claims for Housing Disrepair from all areas of England and Wales. We specialise in acting for clients on a ‘no-win, no-fee’ basis.

What is Housing Disrepair?

Housing disrepair refers to the state in which a property needs restoration for safety purposes and to ensure that it meets adequate living standards for tenants to occupy. It is important to report any issues to your landlord, and if they fail to carry out the repair or remedial work in a reasonable amount of time and to an acceptable standard – it could be considered housing disrepair.

Depending on the nature of the disrepair, some tenants who experience poor living conditions may also find that there is a risk to their health. For example, the disrepair may result in an immediate risk to the occupant’s health in that there may be safety issues caused by the defence.

We understand that often, the condition of a property is such that it causes inconvenience, anxiety and distress and in some cases can exacerbate underlying health conditions such as asthma.

Housing Disrepair

 

How Can We Help?

In addition to ensuring that the property undergoes the necessary repairs, we can also assist in claiming compensation to reflect the period of nuisance and inconvenience experienced. Furthermore, where it can be proven that living conditions have caused or contributed to health issues, we can assist in claiming compensation for this personal injury also.

Our priority is to ensure that steps are taken by your landlord or the Council to remedy the disrepair to your property, and to return your home to a safe and habitable state. As such, once you choose to instruct us, we will take immediate steps to make contact with your landlord and to arrange an inspection of the property by an independent, recognised firm of surveyors.

The surveyor will assess the extent of disrepair to the property and produce a report detailing the repairs necessary. We may also organise a medical appointment for yourself should you feel that the disrepair has resulted in you sustaining a personal injury.

What are the Most Common Kinds of Housing Disrepair?

Common disrepair problems we can assist with include:

  • Damp & Mould – Excess moisture that can be caused by leaking pipes, rising damp in basements or ground floors, or rain seeping in because of damage to the roof or around window frames.
  • Water leaks – The owner of the property is responsible for repairing and maintaining any pipes that supply water, including pipes running inside and outside of your home.
  • Dilapidated brickwork/plaster – This is when the brickwork or plastering work in a home is beginning to deteriorate and can become not only a nuisance to clean up, but a serious risk to respiratory health.
  • Drain and sewage problems – sewers and lateral drains on the premises that are connected to the public network are the responsibility of the property owner. For example, sewage can move upwards through the toilet if the sewer line is clogged causing a health and safety risk.
  • Vermin infestation – landlords have a legal responsibility to deal with pest proofing. They may also have a duty to employ a pest control contractor to treat infestations of rats, mice, bedbugs, and cockroaches, etc.
  • Prolonged exposure to asbestos or carbon monoxide – Many homes built before 1980 contain asbestos in old floor tiles and ceiling tiles, for example. Some household appliances, such as gas fires, boilers, central heating systems, and water heaters release carbon monoxide. Both can be potentially harmful and if not caught early enough, can cause poisoning to humans and in some serious cases, death.
  • Electrical and gas safety issues – Landlords must, by law, have a gas safety check every year. If this isn’t the case and problems arise as a result of this negligence, you may be entitled to a claim.
  • Faulty Sanitary installations – Landlords are required to supply a working toilet, bathtub/shower and wash basin. If a tenant notifies the landlord about a plumbing issue, they are required to fix it within thirty days, but shorter periods of time may be necessary in some situations.
  • Boiler and hot water/heating issues – Landlords are expected to carry out repairs in a reasonable time, and if it is an emergency repair and your home has no heating or hot water it should be fixed in 24 hours. They’re legally responsible for repairs to heating and hot water.

How Much Can I Claim?

The amount claimed for a housing disrepair case will depend on the duration of the problems experienced, the extent of the disrepair, and the amount of rent paid. Damages for nuisance and inconvenience will often be calculated as a percentage of the rent according to the number of rooms affected.

A separate award of compensation may be made for personal injuries, providing that a medical expert apportions those injuries in full or part to the housing disrepair.

Roof

 

What Evidence Will I Need to Support My Housing Disrepair Claim?

  • It is important to take lots of photos and video the problems you are experiencing. If you are experiencing injuries as a result of the housing disrepair, we would also encourage you to take photos of these injuries.
  • Keep copies of any correspondence you have had with your landlord or the council. This may include, letters, emails and text messages. Make notes of any discussions you may have had with them about the housing disrepair to include dates, times and the names of people you have spoken with. This is important to show that your attempts to requite their intervention have gone unactioned.
  • It may be desirable to write a witness statement which documents the problems you have experienced, to include any personal injuries if you have sustained them.
  • Keep any receipts you may have for emergency or remedial work that you might have paid for. This could be for decorating, cosmetic alterations or structural work. If you have sustained a personal injury and paid for medication or treatment expenses, ensure that you keep the receipts for them so that they can be included within your claim.

Case

 

Case Study

A private tenant of a two-bedroom flat paid £1,500 rent per month from 19th October 2010 until 12th October 2013. The tenant experienced issues with damp and cold in the living room, a problem with the toilet (which didn’t flush properly), and damp in the second bedroom which made the entire room uninhabitable for the tenant’s four-year-old autistic son.

The tenant decided to make a claim against the landlord.

In Court, the Judge considered the issues the tenant had faced, particularly the loss of use the second bedroom that the tenant wanted to use as their son’s bedroom in order to give him more space, but couldn’t as a result of the housing disrepair.

The tenant was awarded compensation which included: 40% of the rent for the first two years (when all the problems existed), and 25% of the rent for the third year (as the toilet had been fixed). This amounted to £18, 900.00; and the Judge further awarded an additional 10% for the Claimant’s inconvenience which brought the global total to £20,790.00.

WHAT TO DO NEXT

If you have previously complained to your landlord, the Council, or your Housing Association with regard to issues with your property and you feel that they have failed to deal with the problem, call us now on 0113 200 9787 or contact us through one of the methods on the right-hand side of this page to see whether you may be entitled to claim for compensation.

Meet the Head of Department

Laura Walton

Solicitor - Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution

0113 268 0332

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