Do you know what your rights are?
We are often contacted by tenants who’s rented accommodation is in Disrepair and they need advice about what to do. They are often getting nowhere with the Landlord.
So what is Housing Disrepair?
Disrepair covers a number of issues including the structure and exterior of your home. Of the main issues we are consulted about is damp in the property. There are three main types of damp, these are rising damp, penetrating damp and condensation. Rising damp – this is caused by ground water moving up through a wall or floor which eventually causes the structure of the property to break off and crumble. Penetrating damp – this is caused by water leaking through walls. This type may expand across the walls or ceiling, but it will move horizontally, whereas rising damp travels vertically. Condensation – this type of damp is difficult to claim for housing disrepair claims as this type of damp is usually caused by not opening the windows, placing wet clothes on the radiator without enough air circulating or even simply cooking without opening the windows or doors.
Other areas of disrepair can include problems with electrical wiring, gas pipes, boilers.
What are the first steps?
Taking the Landlord or Housing Association to Court is not a cheap process and it is not a quick process either. If you believe you have a claim for Housing Disrepair you should never stop paying the rent or withhold it. If you do this the Landlord can try and as this can cause another issue which may involve evicting the tenants.
As soon as you become aware of disrepair contact your Landlord or Housing Association. You need to inform them of what is wrong with the property and give them the opportunity to rectify the problem. You should do this in writing so that you have a paper trail of the reports you have made. Any telephone conversations should be written down so that you have evidence of what was said, when and by whom.
If you get no response from your Landlord or they refuse to repair, you should seek legal advice. A solicitor will send a letter called the Early Notification letter which complies with the Pre-Action Protocol for Housing Disrepair Cases. Once this has been sent to the Landlord or Housing Association, a Letter of Claim will be then sent which will be extremely detailed, this will need to include the evidence showing that the tenant has attempted to contact the landlord and or housing association and no response has been made, or evidence showing that they have said they will attend and no attendance has been made. Other evidence to support the claim will be attached such as a surveyor’s report, which will state the areas of disrepair within the home and the recommendation of the surveyor. This will include costs of repair. Your solicitor will do all of this for you.
Once the early notification letter has been sent, the landlord or housing association will have 20 days to provide a response and they can contact your Solicitor to arrange a suitable appointment in order to attend the property. They will also be required to send a formal response to the claim prior to the matter going to Court.
Is there any other way of settling the matter?
We always advise our Clients that it may be financially beneficial for both parties to begin Alternate Dispute Resolution (commonly known as ADR), this means that both parties can have a sit down meeting to discuss the issues at hand and find a suitable solution.
If the matter is settled before the need for Litigation, then the tenant/client can claim for reasonable costs. Reasonable costs would be defined as the out of pocket expenses, so for example; loss of earnings, having to take time from work or expert fees. Your legal costs will also be included.
ADR can be successful, however this is not always the case and you may find that having exhausted these avenues that the only option left is to issue Court Proceedings.
Should you have any questions or queries regarding Housing Disrepair claims, then please contact our offices or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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