The Impact Of Housing Disrepair On Older People

The Impact Of Housing Disrepair On Older People

Much attention is given to the damage housing disrepair has on families, especially those with young children. However, older people are often left in situations of housing disrepair that can go unresolved for years. Last month, Westminster City Council agreed to pay £21,000 to an elderly tenant who could not get necessary repairs done on her flat. The tenant, who is a wheelchair user and has multiple illnesses, requested for her flat to be adapted before she came home from hospital in May 2020.

In July 2022, the Council was contacted by the tenant’s local MP, who complained about many years of disrepair at the property and how it affected the elderly and ill tenants. The Council dismissed the complaint, which said it had not received a request for repairs in 12 months. The complaint was escalated in September 2022, but it took the Council six months to log it and a further six weeks to respond. It then took a further seven months to address the tenant’s refusal of compensation offered by the Council. The matter only progressed with haste after the Council received a letter demanding £110,000 for the distress caused by the delays.

A review of the situation found the Council did not address issues raised in the original complaint nor recognise the tenant’s vulnerability. It also found the council’s response contained ‘inaccuracies’ about ad-hoc visits being arranged and a failure of repairmen to log issues and pass them on.

How do older adults access social housing?

In the social housing sector as a whole, 46% of lead tenants are aged 55 or over. Around 7% of people aged over 65 live in general social housing. However, 27% of new supported housing lettings were to households with a lead tenant over 65 in 2021/22.

Supported housing is where vulnerable people, including the elderly, disabled, or those dealing with mental illness, live as tenants but have support and care services provided.

What are the common dangers elderly people living in homes in disrepair face?

Elderly people subjected to ongoing housing disrepair, such as dampness and mould, face the same risks in terms of respiratory illness as young children and adults. However, older tenants can face extreme danger if they are living with loose carpets or tiles, cracked basins or toilets, or other disrepair that can cause falls and lacerations. In addition, broken/cracked windows, lack of insulation, and faulty heating can result in significant health complications for elderly tenants who may be vulnerable to viral and bacterial infections.

Housing disrepair also adversely affects mental health. A recent paper which examined decades of studies from around the world concerning housing disrepair found that:

“In the UK, for people in deprived areas, the relative quality of their housing in the neighbourhood was associated with their mental wellbeing. Similarly, people who perceived they had a higher quality of life and standard of living than others, had better mental wellbeing. Our review of the literature also suggested a positive association between household disrepair (i.e. living with leaky structures, busted plumbing, broken windows and pests) and fungal richness. Specifically, dampness and mould were associated with increased odds of respiratory symptoms…”

Landlords must also take a more proactive approach with older tenants, as disrepairs may be overlooked.

An ongoing problem

While writing this article, we were not surprised to find little research on the impact of social housing disrepair on older people. At present, around three-quarters of over 65s live in their own home mortgage-free. But this will rapidly change due to the ageing population and the difficulty people face buying their own home.

A frail, older person living alone in a house that needs repair is highly vulnerable to physical injury and mental distress. It is absolutely crucial that they are able to access legal advice and representation if their landlord is not adequately dealing with their complaints.

Our Housing Disrepair Solicitors are here to help.

Please contact us immediately if you are living with damp, mould, or damage to your premises and 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 need 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

  • Use legal means to ensure that your housing association or council completes all your repairs

  • Claiming compensation for you for the period your property has been in disrepair

Please call us or email us today to discuss your claim.


Average Compensation - £1,895
We work on a NO WIN NO FEE basis
to get your home put right and to get you compensated!

Nicholson Jones Sutton Solicitors are housing disrepair claim experts, assisting tenants nationwide on a NO WIN NO FEE basis to compel their Council to carry out crucial repairs to their properties, in addition to recovering compensation for the period of time repairs have been delayed.

Our team has decades of combined experience in dealing with Housing Disrepair Claims. We are sympathetic, understanding, and are here to help you every step of the way.

Nicholson Jones Sutton Solicitors can usually handle Housing Disrepair Claims on a No Win No Fee basis.

Call or email us today to discuss your claim.


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