When talking about housing disrepair, it is important to clarify the difference between repairs which the landlord is responsible for, and general maintenance which the tenant can be responsible for and improvements to the property.
Housing disrepair means a property which needs repair for it to be safe and suitable for tenants and other occupants to live in. Housing disrepair falls under the responsibility of the landlord.
Under the Landlord and Tenant act 1985 the landlord is required by law to ensure:
Tenants are able to pursue housing disrepair claims against their landlords. The time to pursue legal action is when the landlord has been made aware of disrepair and fails to take the necessary actions to maintain the property.
Property Improvements – The landlord is only required to carry out reasonable repairs to resolve ongoing issues at the property that fall within their repair obligations i.e. a claim for disrepair cannot be made to seek to force the landlord to fit a new bathroom or kitchen, as these would be improvements which the landlord is not required to do under the disrepair legislation.
General Maintenance – A tenant is required to keep the property in a tenant-like manner meaning that there are certain obligations of the tenant to maintain the property. Generally, this can range from keeping the property clean and tidy, changing a lightbulb or a fuse, bleeding radiators, changing batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and general garden maintenance such as mowing the lawn and sweeping leaves.
The tenant should report the problems and the same should be repaired in a reasonable amount of time. If the repairs are not completed in a reasonable time frame the tenant could pursue:
A landlord is legally responsible by law, to ensure the property meets required Health and Safety standards. If they fail to do so, a tenant can claim against their landlord for damages and personal injuries that may occur, as a result of the housing disrepair.
Tenants who are facing poor living conditions must inform their landlords of any health and safety concerns they have such as a broken boiler or poor sanitation, to enable the landlord to make any communicated repairs.
Poor housing is costing the NHS in England £1.4 billion a year, ITV News revealed. A new report produced by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) highlights the immeasurable sum of money that is spent treating health problems caused by living in poor-quality homes.
The BRE report reveals that many household problems are “generally, not expensive to repair compared with the long-term cost to the health services and society if they are ignored”.
The highest cost to the NHS -around £857 million- is spent on treating residents made ill by extremely cold homes.
An estimated £38 million is spent on treating the impact of damp, while £374 million is spent on injuries from falls caused by unsafe conditions.
The longer-term impact of low-quality housing, including people left unable to work or needing care, costs society £18.5 billion pounds every year, according to the BRE report.
There are many different types of illness that can be caused by housing disrepairs.
A few of the most common personal injury claims will involve the following the following:
• Respiratory diseases caused by mould or damp
• Physical injuries caused by hazards such as poor lighting, slipping or tripping hazards
• Asbestos-related illnesses in older houses
• Injuries sustained by faulty electrics
• Injuries sustained due to structural problems inside or outside the house.
There needs to be clear evidence that links the disrepair to the tenant’s health problem. These need to be established and proven during the claim. Personal Injury protocol must be followed, therefore legal advice will be necessary.
Before you make a claim against your landlord you should:
If your property falls into one of these categories of disrepair, mentioned above, and you’ve reported it to your landlord, Council or Housing Association, you may be entitled to COMPENSATION if they have failed to repair them for you.
Nicholson Jones Sutton Solicitors are housing disrepair experts, assisting tenants nationwide on a NO WIN NO FEE basis to compel their landlords to carry out repairs, in addition to recovering compensation for the period of time repairs have been delayed.
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