Housing Disrepair Claims Increase

Housing Disrepair Claims Increase

Housing disrepair claims against social housing landlords have substantially increased since the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 came into force in England in March 2020. This legislation mandates that all landlords in England uphold a housing standard adequate for human habitation. As such, it empowers tenants, allowing them to pursue legal recourse against landlords who fail to maintain their property to the mandated standard, ultimately ensuring their protection.

There has been plenty written on the physical harm caused by unaddressed housing disrepair. However, living in damp, mouldy, dangerous, and unhygienic conditions can have a devastating impact on mental health as well (1). This was recently illustrated in the tragic case of a man who committed suicide after his landlord ignored 18 noise complaints concerning his upstairs neighbour. According to a report in the Evening Standard, the Housing Ombudsman stated that Clarion, the UK’s largest housing association, gave a “confusing and contradictory” service to the man and “ignored” his request for help in making a rehousing application.

The above case, alongside that of two-year-old Awaab Ishak, who died in December 2020 of a respiratory condition caused by exposure to the mould in his flat, has led to the Housing Secretary, Michael Gove, taking a robust approach concerning private and public landlords who repeatedly ignore tenant’s requests to repair their property and defy their responsibility to provide safe, healthy homes.


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In August 2023, Mr Gove wrote to the CEOs of seven councils and seven housing associations, criticising their inaction on housing disrepairs. In some cases, it was the second letter the Housing Secretary had sent to the landlords. In one such letter, he stated he was “extremely disappointed” to be writing to the landlord again, describing two further findings of severe maladministration as “extremely concerning”.

“In the second case, you took a staggering 585 working days to respond to a stage two complaint a resident made concerning a faulty roof,” he wrote.

“You failed to acknowledge or offer an apology for your failures and, again, did not consider the impact your failures had on the resident. This is simply not acceptable.”

The following month, Mr Gove chastised a Merseyside housing association after a tenant was awarded £3,000 in compensation because of damp in their home. The Housing Ombudsman Richard Blakeway told the BBC:

“There was a deep lack of professionalism in the way this case was handled, and the heavy-handed behaviour of some staff after multiple failings by the landlord was inappropriate.

“The landlord failed to appropriately investigate and remedy the source of the leak for four years.”

The confidence to bring a compensation claim

An example of a local authority facing a sharp increase in housing disrepair claims is Sheffield City Council, which has seen an increase of 1584% in the past five years. Despite this, a report issued in March 2023 showed that the local authority was only completing 8% of its disrepair works orders on time.

In addition to the media spotlight following the recent tragic deaths of tenants, a further reason for the rise in housing disrepair claims is the availability of ‘no win, no fee’ arrangements. Since 2013, legal aid has only been available for the most serious housing disrepair cases . No win, no fee (see below) provides a low risk way for tenants to enlist the legal help of a Housing Disrepair Solicitor to get repairs done and claim compensation.

Recently, a man who claimed he struggled to breathe in his home which was overrun with toxic mould successfully sued his landlord for £7,000. The problem was initially confined to the ceiling of his property; however, fungus started creeping into every room. What made the situation worse was the tenant was fitted with a pacemaker following a triple heart bypass.

“It affected my health significantly. I couldn’t breathe and sleep properly, and there was one time when I couldn’t even drive my car out of the garage because I couldn’t take a breath. I had to seek immediate help.”

Concluding comments

The recent death of a social housing tenant because of unaddressed noise as well as that of little Awaab Ishak has brought the serious of housing disrepair and its health affects to the media’s attention. This, along with the availability of ‘no win, no fee’ arrangements has led to an increase in housing disrepair claims.

Please contact us immediately if you are living with damp, mould, or damage to your premises and you cannot get your landlord to act.

Our Solicitors have extensive experience in housing disrepair claims and almost always achieve positive results. We may be able to take your case on a no win, no fee basis, which means that if your claim is unsuccessful, you will not have to pay any legal fees (although you will been to pay any disbursements (expenses) such as court fees).

We can help you with the following:

– Instructing a surveyor to assess the disrepair and provide a report to use as evidence
– If necessary, legally ensuring that your housing association or council completes all your repairs
– Claiming compensation for you for the period your property has been in disrepair

Please contact us on 01625 667166 today to discuss your claim.

If you are struggling and need to talk, the Samaritans operate a free helpline open 24/7 on 116 123.

(1) Although you cannot claim for noise pollution under housing disrepair, the situation shows how desperate people living with housing disrepair can become.


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