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Your home is the one place where you are meant to feel safe, happy and comfortable, even if you don’t own it. And as a tenant, you trust that the system of council departments, letting agents and landlords will keep you safe from any problems that might arise with your home, whether it’s a broken door handle or the boiler breaking down.
With 17% of people renting from a private landlord, and 18% renting social housing at the end of 2016, the UK is filled with people relying on their landlord to provide a safe and functional home. For the vast majority of tenants, the process is handled well, but for a few, they find themselves faced with a landlord that allows their property - your home - to fall into disrepair and put you and your family at risk. From simply not maintaining parts of the property, to refusing to fix issues at your request, landlord negligence can take many different forms.
Disrepair claims can be pursued for a number of reasons, whether you’ve injured yourself because of broken tiles, have developed breathing issues because of mould, or have been put at serious risk because of a boiler fault. If you’ve experienced landlord problems and are living in, or have lived in, a property that was in disrepair, you may be able to make a claim against your landlord. In very rare cases, housing problems have led to fatalities, something that should never happen. We may be able to take on your case if you are looking to claim on behalf of someone who has passed away.
Our specialist housing disrepair solicitors are here to help you to use your tenant’s rights to regain any financial loss and ensure your landlord is held accountable for their actions. We can also help you claim for illness or injury you have experienced because of landlord neglect and make sure you are looked after should your condition be long-term or affect your ability to work.
The housing disrepair limitation period is six years from when the issue was first noted and reported to your landlord. Your claim time limit will always be calculated from the earliest date, so if you know there was an issue with a leak in your roof, for example, that you failed to report for several months, the initial date would be from when the problem was first noticed.
If your case also includes a personal injury that was caused as a result of housing disrepair, the claim time limit is three years. The reason the limitation period change, is because the law around personal injury claims is different to disrepair. Exceptions cannot be made to one type of claim limitation even if it includes another.
Whether you are pursuing just a housing disrepair claim, or a claim that includes personal injury, it’s best to start your claim as soon as possible. This means that events are fresher in your mind, any records of injury will be more easily accessed and any paperwork that can help prove your claim is likely readily available making the process of claiming compensation from your landlord much quicker.
"This is not about a claims culture. We just want to defend the rights of the people who are suffering because of this."
Head of Financial, Property and Professional claims
Pay nothing if you lose, get maximum compensation if you win.
Choosing to use our no win, no fee housing solicitors means we always seek the highest amount of compensation for our clients. And there’s the safety of knowing that if your case is unsuccessful, we won’t charge you any fees. This is our guarantee for all disrepair claims by tenants.
You will only pay if you win your disrepair claim. At that point, you will only pay your insurance premium, if applicable, and the success fee agreed when we took on your case, which will never be more than 50%.
Step 1 - Understanding what went wrong
Our initial discussion will look to establish where and when your landlord neglected their obligations to you. We will discuss exactly what is wrong with your property, how it has financially affected you and whether it has caused you any illness or injury.
Step 2 – Reviewing relevant documents
We will review your lease and other information relevant to your tenancy. We will also look at all complaints and maintenance requests you’ve made. If you have been injured or become ill, we will request access to your medical records. Additionally, we will request documents from your landlord. This will give us a good overview of your case and how strong it is.
Step 3 – Sending the Letter of Claim
Once we receive a response, we’ll prepare the detailed Letter of Claim and send it to your landlord, along with any relevant documents that support your case. This letter will set out the facts upon which your claim is based, the allegations against them, an explanation of how this has caused you loss, the estimated value of this loss and details of how this has been calculated.
Step 4 – The professional’s detailed response
Your landlord has 20 working days to investigate and fully respond to our letter. They must provide their answers to the allegations you have made, identify which they admit or deny, send us copies of any documents they wish to rely on, and provide details of any further information needed from you.
Step 5 – Taking a detailed statement
We will work with you to produce a detailed, accurate account of the housing disrepair issues you’ve faced and the consequences for you, including details of any illness or injury. We may need witness statements from friends or family, to help support your case.
Step 6 – Obtaining experts’ reports
If you are seeking compensation for illness or injury as part of your claim, we may need to involve one or more experts to provide a report to support your case - for example, if you have long-term injuries. You will also require an expert’s report to detail the damage and cost of repairing the same in property. Once the experts’ reports have been received and agreed by you, we will send a copy to the landlord you are claiming against.
Step 7 – Issuing court proceedings
If your case has not been settled, we may need to issue court proceedings against your landlord. We will deal with all the detailed court processes on your behalf.
Step 8 – Attending your court trial
You and any experts or witnesses involved in the case will need to attend the hearing if your case goes to trial. If the judge decides that your landlord was negligent, the judge will decide on the amount of compensation you will receive or issue an order that the required work should be carried out. As well as this, your landlord will usually be ordered to pay us the costs we have incurred in preparing your case, including court fees and expert reports.
Step 9 – Awarding your compensation
If you are successful in your claim for disrepair, we will agree on a date by which your compensation will be paid to us so that we can pay your compensation to you as quickly as possible.
Housing disrepair is a general term to cover any issues with broken, defective or unusable parts of your house. This can range from a front door that doesn’t lock to a broken handrail on the stairs. However, disrepair doesn’t cover just broken parts of a house or its contents; it also covers issues like damp, leaks and water damage and any other issues with the property caused by lack of maintenance by your landlord.
Disrepair would also include instances where the safety testing of appliances, smoke alarms and the boiler have been neglected. All of which are essential to keep your property up to standard and to ensure your landlord is abiding by the law. However, claims based on lack of testing often fail unless it has caused an injury or fatality.
In order to begin claiming compensation from your landlord, your claim must meet certain criteria –
If your housing disrepair case meets the criteria then you may be able to make a successful claim. If you decide you want to move forward, your next step is to contact us for a free initial phone call where we can begin to understand your circumstances in more detail. We will then pass on these details to one of our experienced housing solicitors who will review your case and will investigate further if they feel you have a strong claim, otherwise you will be informed if they think you do not.
If you decide to make a claim with us, we will begin the formal process of a filing a housing disrepair claim; firstly by sending a ‘letter before action’ detailing your complaints and what work needs to be carried out, allowing your landlord 20 working days to complete the work. If they do not, we can move onto the next stage of gathering evidence and statements to build a case. After this, the case will either be settled or you will go to court and if successful you will then receive your housing disrepair compensation.
In short, yes. Whether you are in social housing or handled by a housing association or a local authority, you are able to pursue housing disrepair damages.
There are several reasons you may want to make a claim, from your rented home being uninhabitable to illness or injury caused by disrepair, to taking your landlord to court to get an order for them to carry out the required work. For example, you would have a case for housing disrepair compensation if you had a leak in your bathroom you requested to be fixed on a number of occasions, but was not, and has now led to rotten floorboards in your home that pose a risk to you.
If you’re still unsure of your position as a tenant and would like more advice on suing your landlord, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss your circumstances.
Yes, you can. Your local authority or local council is responsible for ensuring your property is safe and habitable just like a private landlord would. If you would like to know if you’re able to make a disrepair claim, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
No, you cannot make a claim through us. Unfortunately we do not handle claims for private housing disrepair. For more help with a claim of this sort, contact Citizen’s Advice or your local authority for advice.
Because of the uniqueness of each case we take on, it’s extremely difficult to give an idea of the compensation you could receive without knowing the details of your situation. There are a number of different ways to pursue disrepair compensation and we will work with you to tailor your case to suit your specific circumstances and get you maximum compensation.
The main areas you can claim for are –
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 protects your rights as a tenant and when they are ignored, causing you harm, you have the right to make a claim against your landlord. The act states that the property must be fit for human habitation when the tenancy begins and that the landlord will keep the property fit for habitation throughout the tenancy. It goes on to specify that the following will be taken into consideration –
Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant’s Act also covers the landlord’s obligation in regards to repair of a property, and it’s under the laws laid out in this section that the majority of lawsuits against landlords are made.
To find out how the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 may affect your case, or whether you have a case under this law, please contact us for a free initial telephone call to discuss your case.
Unfortunately, you don’t have a right to withhold your rent until repairs are carried out. It may seem extremely unfair that you must continue to pay for a property in disrepair, and you may think withholding rent will “encourage” your landlord to make repairs, but this is never advisable. If you withhold rent you could be in breach of your lease and your landlord may have reason to evict you from the property.
If you find yourself in such a situation, seek housing legal advice before taking any action. You could contact The Citizen’s Advice Bureau or a housing charity for free advice, but if you are certain you want to move forward with suing your landlord for negligence, we can assist you. If you submit your case to us, and it looks like you may have a claim, we will pass your case to an experienced housing lawyer who will review evidence and can tell you if you can proceed with legal action against your landlord.
In order to prove that your landlord has been negligent, you will need to provide evidence that there is a significant housing disrepair issue in your rented property, that you have requested repairs be carried out (often multiple times) and have allowed access to the property if anyone has come to inspect or carry out the requested repairs. You must make a reasonable effort to allow any offered repairs to be carried out; you cannot refuse repairs because you have begun the claims process. However, requests for entry to the property to carry them out should be requested in line with your lease, which means notice should be given when the repairs will be carried out and what disruption that could cause.
It is always advisable to keep proof of the damage in the form of photographs and to keep a record of any requests for repair of evidence of correspondence between you and your landlord about the damage. If you have sustained an injury or have become ill because of the disrepair your rented home is in, we will request access to your medical records so we can provide evidence of this as part of your case. We also may request that a medical expert examine or speak with you about your health, which will help support your claim further.
Damp and mould in rented property is quite a common problem, particularly in older houses, and sometimes you could be doing something inadvertently that is making it worse. Damp can be caused by a lack of ventilation, bad insulation, heating problems, or a combination of all three; it can even be that the property doesn’t have a membrane built into the foundations of the house to prevent moisture. Damp conditions then lead to mould growth and damage to your property.
The answer to whether you can make claim for damp in a rented property is difficult to answer without knowing all the details of your particular situation. If your lease specifically says your landlord is responsible for this kind of maintenance, then you will most likely be eligible to make a claim. However, if you have created an environment within your home that has contributed to the problem, for example, you have deliberately turned off the kitchen or bathroom extractor fans; it is possible you cannot claim.
If you have damp in your rented house because ventilation is bad because of broken windows, the heating is faulty, or the extractor fans are broken and your landlord hasn’t fixed those issues, then you will be in a strong place to get compensation from your landlord for mould. If you have also developed breathing problems or infections because of the mould in a rental property, you may be able to claim for illness caused by their negligence as well as disrepair compensation. For a clearer idea of whether you can claim for damp and mould in a council property contact us for a free initial telephone call. If we believe you have a case, one of our experienced housing disrepair lawyers will then investigate further and inform you as to whether or not you have a strong case.
Making landlord complaints can be intimidating, but you have a right to do so if your landlord has been negligent with disrepairs or has caused you other serious problems. Firstly, you should make your issues known directly to your landlord, but in writing or email rather than verbally as this means you have a written record. Your landlord should have a complaints procedure that you can then follow to inform them of your housing complaints.
If you feel you cannot do this or you have tried this and it has not worked, you can take the complaint against your landlord to a ‘designated person’ such as a local councillor or an MP. They can then attempt to resolve any issues you have with them. If this also fails, you can contact your local council to file a complaint against your landlord. The council will be able to take action for you in most cases but you might find the problem still can’t be solved, for example, if your landlord refuses to comply with requests and the council cannot force them to.
You may also decide to make a claim for disrepair against your landlord. If you decide to do so you must have evidence of all efforts you have made to get the problems resolved, along with evidence of those issues. Our housing disrepair solicitors will be able to help you pursue a claim for disrepair, illness, injury or financial loss caused by your landlord’s negligence.