Housing disrepair constitutes a host of housing issues that range from broken or blocked drainage to broken heaters and radiators, collapsed ceilings and roof, molds and damp on the walls and floors, bug infestation, defective exterior finishes, dangerous stairs and bannisters, defective gas and pipe work, damaged doors, leaking sinks, pipes or showers, to name a few.
When you rent a home, there’s an expectation that the property should provide peace and comfort to you but when disrepair of any sort comes into the picture, that becomes a problem. If your rented property has fallen into a state of disrepair – requiring essential repairs – it is a damage that needs to be put right.
Who is responsible for housing disrepair problems?
Both tenants and landlords have an obligation to maintain a property and maintain its structure in a good state. Tenants are responsible for always paying their rent, cleaning a property, making reports to the landlord when necessary and doing small tasks like changing the lightbulb or a fuse.
The landlords carry a greater responsibility towards maintaining a property and keeping it safe and fit for use. Landlords are responsible for maintaining :
- The structure and exterior of the property e.g the walls, roof, pipes, windows, foundations etc.
- Plumbing – this includes the sinks, toilets and bathrooms.
- Utilities – This covers water and gas, electrical wiring, heaters, radiators etc. Landlords are also responsible for the safety of their tenant by ensuring that the fire alarm, smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarms are fitted in the required places.
Under the law, your landlord or housing association is expected to ensure that:
- Your house does not suffer from damp and mold.
- That your drainages are unclogged and clear.
- You have safe access to gas, water and electricity.
- Your home does not have a vermin or insect infestation problem.
- You have a good and functional heating system.
- Your house has good structures.
If you encounter disrepair in your home, your landlord is responsible for the immediate repair of those faults and this is provided for under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act (LTA) 1985. This section of the Landlord and Tenant Act is relevant to your level if you do not have a tenancy agreement.
If your home is owned by a housing association, the responsibility is on the housing association to fix the disrepair. When you notice disrepair in your home, it is advised to contact your landlord/housing association and inform them either through phone calls, text messages or a letter. Your landlord is expected to fix the disrepairs as soon as they are reported but if after a reasonable period of time has refused to make those repairs, you can make a housing disrepair claim and take him to court .
Additionally, if you are a housing association tenant and notice any disrepair, you are required to contact your housing association and follow their formal complaints procedure they have provided. When you are done with the complaints procedure, you will be required to wait for a period of 8 weeks. During this period, the housing association is expected to resolve your complaints for you and handle the disrepair. If it does not do that, you can then decide to bring a housing disrepair claim against the housing association. Nobody should have to accept poor living conditions. The laws have directed that repairs are contractual and so any breach of contract gives the tenant the right to take legal action.
What are housing disrepair claims?
Housing disrepair claims is a type of lawsuit where a tenant takes legal action against a landlord/housing association for failing/refusing to fix disrepairs on the rented property. Usually when a complaint is made for disrepair to be fixed, the landlords are generally expected to respond to the complaints within 20 days. If your landlord ignores your complaints after that time frame elapses, you can bring an action for housing disrepair claims through any of our truly efficient housing disrepair solicitors .
It is advised that you should send the complaints to your landlord/housing association either through emails or text messages as these would stand as proof of the time and date you made the complaint. You should also keep a record of important documents and receipts that might help your case.
If your home is owned by a housing association, you should keep a record of copies of all correspondence between you and the housing association when you make a disrepair complaint. You should also have pictures and video evidence of the problem, medical records, record of phone interactions and receipts for every expense incurred as a result of the disrepair.
Usually when you make the housing disrepair claims, landlords tend to hastily fix all the damages and disrepairs they had previously ignored.
What am I entitled to for housing disrepair?
If you – on your own – decided to fix the disrepair and you have receipts to show that you have spent money on the repairs, you can get compensated for the money spent. If you or your loved ones suffered injury as a result of the disrepair, keep the medical reports and copies of the medical bill and pictures as evidence to be submitted to a solicitor.
Generally, when you make a housing disrepair claim, you are entitled to:
- Household repairs – You are entitled to having your disrepair fixed by the landlord after you have laid a housing disrepair claim. If you have spent your money fixing the disrepair by yourself, with your receipt as evidence, you will be entitled to a refund.
- Compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity – This is a blanket term that ensures you get compensation if you have suffered physically as a result of a disrepair. Any issues you might have faced on account of the housing disrepair which must have caused you inconvenience and distress are under the blanket term of “pain, suffering and loss of amenity”. This includes having to vacate the house if the level of disrepair warrants you to do that.
- Damage to personal property – If for example, there was a leak in the ceiling and while it rained overnight, the water pooled and your phone or laptop got wet and destroyed, you can make a claim for compensation on the basis of cost incurred in repairing or replacing your phone or laptop.
- Personal injury – If you or your loved ones have suffered an injury or illness as a result of the disrepair on your home, you can make a claim for compensation on the basis of injury suffered. Moldy walls, for instance, can cause allergies or aggravate existing respiratory illnesses like asthma. You can make a claim for personal injury for medical costs, aftercare, medication and pain and suffering.
The amount of compensation you may be awarded is based on how long the disrepair matter lasts and how severe the issue might be and its impact on you and your household on a daily/regular basis.
How to calculate compensation
Usually, the compensation amount differs based on the severity of the disrepair and damage done. If for example you encounter heating issues for a whole year, you will calculate rent paid for that entire year and a percentage (for the compensation) of the rent paid is what will be awarded to you as compensation. i.e the value of your rent for the whole period of the claim is £12,000 and compensation is set at 25%, you will be entitled to get £3000 as compensation.
If the disrepair is a severe damp for a period of six months that also did damage to personal property, the percentage for compensation becomes more because you have to be compensated for loss of personal property I.e the value of your rent for the whole period is £6000 and the compensation is set at 40%, you will be entitled to get £2400.
We can help!
If you are in the UK and your home has been in a state of disrepair and your landlord has refused to handle it, contact us and our No Win No Fee housing Disrepair solicitors will guide you through the entire process.
Our No Win No Fee policy protects you completely as it requires you only pay us a certain percentage of your total compensation only when your claim succeeds. If the claim is unsuccessful, you will not be charged any fee by our No Win No Fee housing disrepair solicitors. We will work to make sure your landlord/housing association complies with their legal obligations and pays for compensation and also for the repairs to be done as required by the court.
If you want to make housing disrepair claims in London or Manchester, take advantage of our No Win No Fee policy and contact our housing disrepair solicitors today. We are always ready to help.