What is the government doing in regards to housing disrepair claims?
The introduction of the landlord and tenant act 1975 and fitness for human habitation act 2018.
The UK Coalition government provided 1.6 million to the decent homes program in England for the period of 2011 – 2015, a further 160 million was allocated in 2016 for the improvement of homes up and down the country. Although the government have introduced many new measures for landlords to adhere to this has proven difficult due to the lack of available social and council housing.
As a result, there has been and remains significant concerns about housing standards at the lower end of the market, Housing Associations and Councils are letting poor quality, unhealthy and sometimes dangerous homes and ignoring their obligations. Resent policy initiatives in England and Wales have been directed at driving the landlords to improve their performance to leave the sector.
Advice to tenants suffering with housing disrepair
The main method of reporting issues to your landlord is via telephone however in our experience we have noted that many landlords do not accurately record complaints therefore we advise that you keep a thorough log of these complaints.
The best method of reporting issues is via email, as your landlord will not be able to dispute this even if they no longer hold a record of this.
Existing tenants suffering with disrepair
As a housing association or council tenant you have legal obligations to make sure the property is maintained throughout your tenancy agreement.
For example, If the property is suffering with mould and damp, you must take preventative measures.
You will note upon the reporting of issues that your landlord will provide you with specific advice:
- Ventilate the property by opening windows and adequate heating
- Do not dry clothes inside the property
- Cleaning using mould washers or sprays or using mould resistant paint
Existing tenants suffering with disrepair
From our experience in dealing with housing disrepair claims, many tenants are reporting issues for disrepair from over 10 years. At some point during your housing disrepair claim your landlord will encourage you to take a small figure of around £400 or even move you into another home due to the disrepair. If you decide to move home or take a small offer directly from your landlord you will not be able to claim the full compensation you are entitled to which could range up to £10,000.
Government Indicators of Housing Disrepair
- There are many causes of damp and mould, and these are often associated with the structure of your home. This often requires far more work than the easy and frequently suggested fix of cleaning and redecorating over the problem.
- If not tackled, damp and mould can cause respiratory problems and infections as well as affect the immune system of vulnerable people, particularly young children.
- A cold home is one that cannot be economically maintained at the between the temperatures 18°C to 21°C. This puts tenants at risk of flu and pneumonia; heart attacks or strokes, hypothermia and in some cases can be fatal
- Likewise, a house that is too hot has health implications, with the potential to cause dehydration, stroke and heart attacks, as well as breathing difficulties. The most vulnerable the excess heat is the elderly.
- Asbestos was a commonly used building material in the 1950s and 1960s. Although the materials are generally safe when in good condition, if they are damaged, they release fibres into the air that can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma.
- Pesticides and other chemicals have been used to treat timber mould growth and pests but can also have negative implications on respiratory health.
- Carbon Monoxide can be highly toxic and cause nausea, bronchitis, and asphyxiation.
- Lead from paint or pipes can potentially cause nervous disorders as well as behavioural problems in children.
- Gas leaks from cookers or heaters can cause suffocation and explosion. Ensure that all appliances are properly installed and maintained and that your landlord has an annual gas safety check carried out.
- Crowding leads to a risk of infections, accidents and the spread of contagious diseases. Tenants are entitled to adequate space in living rooms, kitchens and other recreational space.
Risk of Intruders
- The fear of entry by intruders can cause high levels of stress when the property is not adequately secured against unauthorized entry. This includes broken locks to windows and doors.
Lack of Light
- Insufficient lighting can cause depression and vitamin D deficiency.
- Noise caused by poor sound insulation allows penetration of excessive levels of noise causing sleep disturbance. Further problems that arise from this are poor concentration, headaches and anxiety
Poor Hygiene Standards
- Poor Hygiene, refuse and pests can lead to infection and diseases. As a tenant your property should be free from cracks and holes which would allow the entry of pests.
- You should also be entitled to the provision of an adequate water supply including drinking water from the main supply.
Prone to Accidents
- Falling is a common hazard and is often associated with baths, showers, trip hazards, low windows, and stairs. Elderly people are most vulnerable to these hazards which may cause physical injuries including fractures or brain and head injuries.
- Faulty wiring and old sockets are a high risk and can cause electric shocks and, in some cases, be fatal. Installation of electrics should be safe and in a good state of repair.
- Cookers and heaters should be situated away from flammable materials in a safe position. This will reduce the risks caused by flames and hot surfaces. Children are particularly vulnerable to fire hazards.
- A poorly maintained property can lead to explosions, entrapment, and structural collapse. There is a serious risk of physical injury if such an event were to take place. Identify whether your roof looks as if it is in a good state of repair, and if there are any lose tiles or leaking or damaged guttering.
- Amenities such as baths, sinks, windows and worktops should be properly positioned as to avoid the risk of strains and sprains.
If you have identified these hazards in your home and you are being ignored by the council or your housing association, please get in touch with us as soon as possible