No one deserves to live in uninhabitable conditions. This is why tenants are protected by various housing laws that ensure landlords have a responsibility to keep their properties free of repair issues.
However, disrepair in the home still occurs, and damp, mould, leaky ceilings, faulty boilers, and broken electrics are all too common in many homes across the country.
Bringing a claim forward with a disrepair solicitor can be a way to enforce a landlord to fix these repairs, whilst also getting the tenant some compensation for any pain and suffering that the disrepair has caused. There are, however, steps that tenants need to follow before they are able to bring forward a claim against their landlord.
Below we list our do’s and don’ts for tenants when they are facing housing disrepair and an unhelpful landlord. If you follow these tips, it is more likely your home will be repaired and you will have your life back again.
It’s a little easier to start with the Don’ts, as some of the actions on this Don’t list can really make things worse if you do proceed to carry them out.
This is often easier said than done, particularly if you have a landlord that is refusing to listen to you. We advise never getting angry or swearing at your landlord as this only gives them more ammunition to ignore or even evict. Always try to be civil when speaking, emailing, or texting your landlord.
If they get angry at you and you keep your calm, it is more likely to reflect badly on your landlord should you file a disrepair claim further down the line.
Living with disrepair is not just “a fact of life”. No one deserves to live in cold, damp unliveable conditions. Getting on with it may seem easier at first, but over time the disrepair could cause severe health issues and potentially damage your belongings.
We recommend raising the disrepair issue as soon as you are aware of it.
Raising disrepair concerns with your landlord is not enough for you to withhold rent outright. Going into arrears could also put you at risk of being evicted.
If you have a viable claim for disrepair compensation, a court will determine whether or not you are owed rent back as compensation – invariably the court does decide that this is the case if you win a housing disrepair claim.
You are still living in your landlord’s property under the original tenancy agreement, even while the disrepair dispute is ongoing. This means that if you break any term in the tenancy agreement you could be putting yourself at risk of being evicted – even if the house is in disrepair.
In order to force your landlord to fix the disrepair, you need to provide full evidence of the fault or issue. If you partially repair the problem, you are weakening your chances of a court finding in your favour.
It also goes without saying that if there is an electrical problem or an issue which requires professional assistance that you should stay clear and not put yourself in any danger.
Conducting major repairs on the property will also be out of the remit of your tenancy agreement. So, as much as you want the repair to fixed, you cannot do it yourself.
Relationships with your landlord can sometimes deteriorate so much that you simply refuse them access into the home. However, this is counterproductive, as not only does it mean they will find it harder to fix the disrepair, but it could also see you evicted for breaking the tenancy agreement.
Always let your landlord or workmen into the property when they have scheduled work or a visit.
Next, let’s look at the things you can do to hurry up the repairs and potentially improve your case for a housing disrepair claim.
Identifying the repair will be the first thing you need to do. Your landlord will be responsible for most repair jobs, particularly major ones like fixing structural issues, mending faulty pipes, or sorting broken toilets.
However, you need to determine whether it is repair vs improvement – are you asking for something which could be regarded as an upgrade, rather than a repair?
Your landlord isn’t liable for new cosmetic features, fixtures, or fittings that replace something which was already working.
Landlords are not liable to carry out any repairs until you have notified them of the housing disrepair (as in, they are not mind readers). After you have reported the damage to your landlord, they need to carry out the repairs in a “reasonable time”, which is a little bit of a grey area.
The vital point is, until you inform your landlord of the disrepair, the clock isn’t ticking on them. The sooner you report the disrepair the sooner they have to fix it.
If you do decide to raise the issue with a housing disrepair solicitor, you will need to provide evidence. A huge part of this evidence will be photographs of the disrepair to show the disrepair experts.
It is likely that the photos will determine if you have a disrepair claim, which will mean a full audit of the property will then be carried out to confirm the disrepair.
If possible, try to include a date and time on the photographs to provide context.
Very often, mould or a leaky pipe can cause significant damage to personal property. This might include damaged clothes, broken electrical equipment like TVs and games consoles, or other personal belongings.
It is a good idea to find receipts of any damaged property, which you can take to a housing disrepair solicitor who will argue that the landlord must compensate the tenant for the damaged property.
Damp and mould in the home can cause severe breathing problems for you and your family. If this is left untreated it can cause lasting effects.
When bringing forward a housing disrepair claim, you may be asked to provide medical evidence of any illness or injury. You can then be compensated for this, in the same way you would for any other personal injury claim.
Bear in mind that it is not just breathing problems that may be present. For example, we often see broken feet or ankles from broken floorboards or staircases.
We advise speaking to your landlord via a method that is traceable, as sometimes phone calls can be subjective and get lost in translation. This might include email, text, or a letter.
This will demonstrate your willingness to get any disrepair fixed, and also your landlord’s hesitancy to carry out any repairs.
Housing Disrepair Solicitors come across rogue landlords every day, and understand how to get them to finally carry out repairs in your home. An expert disrepair solicitor will ask you about all of the above. They will try to detail the date at which the disrepair became apparent, the problems the disrepair is causing, any health problems you have encountered, and what your landlord has done so far to fix the issue.
If you are eligible, a team of solicitors will then bring forward a claim against your landlord on your behalf. At this point, either your landlord settles your claim out of court and fixes the problems, or a court decides the outcome. If you have followed all of the above, you will have a much higher chance of succeeding in your claim, depending on your circumstances.
The team behind DisrepairClaim.co.uk can help tenants who are suffering from disrepair issues. They can help tenants claim thousands in compensation, force their landlord to fix disrepair, and get their home back. If you would like any advice in relation to housing disrepair claims, the friendly team would be happy to provide a free initial consultation.
Fairweather Group Ltd t/a DisrepairClaims.co.uk do not give legal advice; Our service is limited to the process and administration of compensation claims. You do not need to use a claims management company to make a claim. You have the right to use the Housing Ombudsman to seek redress for free. You can also seek legal advice elsewhere.
The No Win No Fee Success Fee for getting your housing disrepair compensation is based on which expert panel member we refer you to. Our panel consists of Bond Turner and DW Marketing Limited.
The No Win, No Fee varies, but is generally between 25%+VAT - 50%+VAT. There may be a termination fee if you cancel your claim with a panel member after the cooling off period. We are paid a referral fee by our panel members for a successful referral. Fairweather Group Ltd will not charge you for our service.