The Pre-Action Protocol for Housing Disrepair Cases brings clarity for disrepair claims – as well as the roles parties to a housing disrepair case should play before court proceedings are issued.
Why Was the Pre-Action Protocol Amended?
Changes were made to the protocols to make a consistency with the new Section 9A of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (LTA), as amended by the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.
The protocol applies to disrepair claims by tenants and others in the face of poor living conditions in a rented property. Before starting a claim using the Protocol, tenants should ensure they notify their landlord of those conditions; the Protocol is aimed at addressing cases where, despite the landlord’s knowledge of the unsuitable living conditions, the disrepair remains unresolved.
The Protocol also provides a guidepost as regards the conduct expected of prospective parties in disrepair claims, prior to the start of court proceedings. It encourages both parties to exchange information at an early stage and create a framework within which issues relating to housing disrepair can be promptly and appropriately resolved.
If the claim goes to trial, the court will expect all parties involved to have adhered to the Protocol as much as possible. For parties who fail to comply with the Protocol unreasonably, the court has the power to sanction them.
The aim of the Pre-action Protocol for Housing Condition Cases aims to avoid unnecessary litigation, encourage prompt repairs and fixes which are the legal duty of the landlord. It also aims to ensure tenants who are entitled to compensation receive their award as quickly as possible. The Protocol encourages healthy pre-litigation practice and lowers the cost of dispute resolution.
What Does the Protocol Address?
The Pre-Action Protocol for Housing Conditions Claim covers claims arising from the condition of residential properties, and may include a resulting personal injury. While most claims are made by tenants against their landlord, the Protocol is not limited to such claims. It addresses claims made by any individual with a housing conditions claim, including tenants, the tenant’s family members and lessees. The word “tenant” as used in this Protocol is meant to cover all three groups.
The Protocol does not cover set-offs or counterclaims in housing conditions claims i.e. where a tenant is pursuing compensation for poor housing conditions against money claimed by the landlord, typically for rent arrears. In cases like this, the tenant and landlord will be expected to exchange information in a reasonable manner in order to settle the issue at an early stage.
In the event of personal injury, if the claim requires more than a General Practitioner’s letter, the Personal Injury Pre-Action Protocol should be complied with. A General Practitioner’s letter will usually be enough to evidence a minor personal injury claim, so it may not be necessary to comply with the Personal Injury Pre-Action Protocol. If it is an urgent situation, the best course of action would be to pursue housing condition claims and personal injury claims separately, which could be managed together at a later date.
What Does the Pre-Action Protocol Mean for Landlords and Tenants?
Changes made to the new Protocol will likely have only minimal impact on the management of housing disrepair claims. It is still the responsibility of landlords to ensure their properties remain suitable for human habitation to avoid the risk of claims made by tenants under the Pre-Action Protocol for Housing Condition Cases.
Letter of Claim
Disrepair claims for poor housing conditions can range from simple to complex; in order to avoid unnecessary delays with the claims process and ensure the landlord is notified of the claim at the earliest opportunity, it may be ideal for a tenant to send a letter notifying the landlord of the claim before sending a detailed Letter of Claim. The Protocol provides a guidepost as regards what a Letter of Claim should contain:
- The tenant’s name, address of the property, the tenant’s address if it is different from the rental property in dispute, and the tenant’s telephone number and when it can be accessed.
- A detailed breakdown of the disrepair issues, including any outstanding defects. The Protocol has a schedule which can be used to inform the landlord of the defects.
- History of the disrepair, including any efforts made to fix them.
- Details of any notices sent to the landlord to inform them of the poor housing conditions.
- The impact of the disrepair on the tenant (including personal injury claim).
- The identity of any other person involved in a personal injury claim and a brief description of their claim.
- Details of any special damages.
- Identity of the proposed expert.
- The proposed letter of instruction to the expert (the Protocol provides a template for a letter).
- Readily available documents that are relevant to the case.
The Landlord’s Response
The landlord’s response to the letter of claim should be sent within 20 days of receipt. Receipt of the letter of claim is deemed to have taken place two days after the date the letter was sent. If the landlord is not an organization and not an individual, a person should represent the organization (and their solicitor, if one is involved). The landlord’s response should include the following:
- Copies of all relevant documents or records sent by the tenant and response to the tenant’s intention to instruct an expert.
- The landlord must also respond to the disrepair issues as alleged by the tenant, stating:
- whether they admit liability;
- if they dispute liability in some or all defects as well as the reasons for this;
- if they wish to make any point regarding lack of notice of the disrepair or issues with gaining access to the property;
- a schedule of the intended repair, with a timetable including anticipated start and completion dates for the works;
- any offer of settlement.
If there is no response to the Letter of Claim within 20 days or at all, this will be deemed a breach of the Protocol and the tenant can issue proceedings if they wish to do so.
How Much Compensation Can I Receive for Housing Disrepair?
Different factors will determine how much compensation you will receive, and no two cases are entirely the same. Two of the most important factors include:
Compensation for Pain, Suffering and Loss of Amenity
If you have suffered physical pain as a result of a housing disrepair, this means that the landlord has compromised the standard of living for which you pay in the form of rent. Inconvenience experienced as a result of housing disrepair is defined by pain, suffering and loss of amenity, and the compensation here is calculated relative to your rent. So, if you are making a claim for compensation for mould and damp, the amount you will receive will be a percentage of your rent for the period you have had to live with the defect.
The percentage of the rent you receive will depend on the severity of the disrepair, and its impact on your life. For instance, if you sue landlord for mould UK when dealing with extremely severe mould and damp, you may even receive a 100% award.
Compensation for Lost Belongings
If your personal possessions have been damaged as a result of housing disrepair, or you have taken on extra expense, you may be entitled to compensation. While you may not receive the replacement value for the lost item, the compensation award will reflect the expected life cycle of the item that has been cut short. The amount you receive will also depend on the evidence you are able to provide that you lost your belongings due to disrepair, such as photographs and receipts. Although you may receive compensation without this proof, it will be less than you would have with proof.
No Win No Fee Housing Disrepair Solicitors
At housingdisrepairclaim.co.uk, we strongly believe that you do not have to suffer injuries or out of pocket expenses if the issues leading to your housing disrepair claim were no fault of your own. Whether you are claiming against a landlord or housing association disrepair, we offer to work with most of our clients on a No Win No Fee basis.
Our No Win No Fee housing disrepair aims to take the pressure of making disrepair claims off your shoulders; when you work with our No Win No Fee housing solicitors, you can have great peace of mind knowing they will only take on your case if they believe you have a strong chance of success. If, for instance, you are a Manchester resident, making housing disrepair claims Manchester can offer you the compensation you need to move on with your life.
If you have any questions regarding our No Win No Fee service, feel free to contact us today on 08009997440 or fill our claims assessment form and one of our solicitors will contact you at your earliest convenience. We work with the best housing disrepair solicitors and can guarantee we will add no more stress than what you have suffered as a result of your landlord’s negligence.