Next Gen Solicitors have a wealth of experience in achieving successful outcomes for clients in claims brought against their Social Housing landlords. If you live in social housing and have been living with significant housing issues which despite bringing to the attention of the housing association or landlord have not been addressed, you may be eligible for compensation. To give you more of an idea of what a successful housing disrepair case can look like, here are four recent cases.
Social Housing Disrepair Case Review
Case 1: Mr Finch
Mr Finch, who lives in East Midlands brought a claim against his social housing landlord d at the start of March 2021.
Several rooms of his rented home were suffering from ingress of damp due to a defective balcony in the flat above that was adjacent to the ceiling of his flat.
From review of the disclosure provided by the landlord, it was clear that Mr Finch had been complaining of this re-occurring issue since February 2016 and the landlord had effectively provided a temporary solution to the disrepair by repeatedly carrying out a chemical clean of the walls or advising the claimant to clean his own walls, through doing this no proper investigation had been performed until Mr Finch brought legal action against his landlord.
As a result of this failure to fully investigate, Mr Finch suffered considerable stress, loss of enjoyment and inconvenience with this re-occurring problem in his property.
Mr Finch was successfully compensated in the sum of £3,491.32 by his landlord. This settlement was reached within 5 months of the Letter of Claim being sent to the landlord.
Case 2: A Claim Against The Local Council
In this case, the claimant prefers to be anonymous, and so we will honour their right to privacy whilst still educating our audience on cases brought against local councils, with permission from the claimant.
The claimant lives in West Midlands and was renting a property from the local council. They brought a claim against his landlord in January 2021.
The claimant’s property had suffered from structural damage throughout with cracks appearing on the walls in the living room, kitchen, bathroom, hallway and within two bedrooms.
Upon review of the disclosure documentation provided by the claimant’s landlord, it was discovered that the landlord had constructive knowledge of the structural damage in the property since an inspection was carried out in November 2017.
As a consequence of the claimant bringing the claim for housing disrepair against his landlord, an inspection was undertaken that identified structural movement of the property as a result of surrounding trees.
The landlord in this instance, had constructive notice of the issues and failed to remedy the disrepair at the time, which led to the issues of structural cracking in the property becoming more severe over time. After extensive negotiations with the defendant, the claimant was eventually compensated in the sum of £6,447.30.
Case 3: Mrs Ekwue
A local council in London paid almost £20,000 in compensation and legal costs for a tenant living in disrepair for several years.
The tenant, Mrs Ekwue’s property, has been suffering from dampness, mould, blocked toilets, and issues with her boiler. The tenant had no heating in her property.
She complained to her landlord for several years, but they failed to carry out adequate work; Mrs Ekwue decided to contact Next Gen Solicitors to see if she could pursue a claim for compensation.
Mrs Ekwue had this to say about Tochukwu Orji, Solicitor- “Tochukwu was very attentive and went above and beyond to ensure that my landlord started doing the works, he successfully obtained compensation for me, and I will always recommend Tochukwu for his professionalism and legal expertise”.
Tochukwu had this to say, “It is not uncommon for landlords to pay compensation and then fail to complete the works within the required timeframe. Here at Next Gen Solicitors, we always try to ensure we enforce the terms of settlement when a breach occurs”.
Case 4: Mrs Jones
Mrs Jones, who lives in Liverpool, brought a claim against her social housing landlord at the end of September 2021.
Several rooms of the property had been suffering from dampness, and leaks were prominent throughout the home.
From review of the disclosure provided by the landlord, it was clear that Mrs Jones had been complaining of this issue since August 2019. Despite the client’s reports of the issues throughout the forthcoming years, the defendant had failed to rectify the issue.
As a result of this failure to fully investigate, Mrs Jones suffered considerable stress, loss of enjoyment and inconvenience with this re-occurring problem in his property.
Mrs Jones was compensated in the sum of £1,500.00 by her landlord. This settlement was reached within 5 months of the Letter of Claim being sent to the landlord.
If the situations in the four housing disrepair cases above sound familiar and you’d like more information and legal advice in regards to making a claim for compensation, feel free to contact our housing disrepair experts today.
Social housing’s main goal is to provide a level of affordable accommodation to those who need it, and that the government must intervene to ensure that those on a low income can find a safe and clean place to live. Social housing landlords don’t just owe their tenants a duty to keep their properties in repair but they also have a responsibility for their social welfare, especially when concerns have been raised about their tenant’s welfare.
UK Social Landlords’ Responsibilities to their Tenants
A social landlord is a housing association or council that provides social housing in the UK. They have a duty to keep the property in a good state of repair as well as an ongoing responsibility for the tenant’s welfare. This means they must ensure that any concerns raised about the tenant are addressed and that the tenant is safe and healthy while residing at the property. From making sure the tenant can manage at home, to their general health and mental wellbeing, if concerns are raised, regarding the tenant or the property, a social landlord must act accordingly. Yet, this is not always the case!
If a social landlord is aware of any issues that may affect the tenant’s welfare, they must take immediate action to address them. This could include arranging for support services or referring the tenant to other agencies for help and support. If the landlord fails to act when they are made aware of an issue regarding their tenant, they could be in breach of their duty of care for failing to follow the National Safeguarding Guidelines. Although as housing disrepair solicitors in the UK, we are well aware of the number of social landlords who fail to provide their tenants with a well-maintained home and ignore their duty of care to tenants.
Social Housing Worst Cases
Sadly, a recent case was brought to light by Harriet Harman. In an article published on MailOnline, a 61-year-old woman passed away while in social housing in London, and yet was left lying on the floor of her flat for three years, despite neighbours complaining of a foul smell, flies, and maggots. When the remains of Sheila Seleoane were eventually found in her flat in Peckham, London, the property was infested with mice and cockroaches.
Residents had first issued a complaint to the social housing association Peabody about the smell coming from the flat in 2019. Yet two years of complaining did not force the social housing association to take action. It was only after three years that the police were forced to take action and force entry into the home.
As a result of this sheer neglect and emotionally distressing event for both Sheila Seleoane’s family, friends, and neighbours, MP Harriet Harman is calling for a full independent investigation into the incident.
Harriet Harman told MailOnline, ‘ I don’t understand how something like this can happen in a bustling area in this day and age. This is absolutely awful; this kind of thing should not happen. It’s awful for this woman, her family and the people living in this block.’
According to Harriet Harman, Peabody Housing Association claims that they were first contacted in October 2020, but residents are claiming that it was in 2019. It also appears that the women had rent arrears but was not paying these off, yet Peabody was receiving them from her benefits, despite having passed.
A spokesperson for Peabody said: ‘We are saddened to learn that our resident has passed away. Our dedicated Tenant and Family Support Team carry out regular welfare checks with people who may be vulnerable.
If you are a social housing tenant and have concerns about the state of your property get in touch with one of our specialist solicitors. We can advise you on your rights as a social housing tenant and help you take action against your social landlord, especially in relation to housing disrepair. If you have concerns about the welfare of a neighbour please raise these concerns with the landlord in the first instance and if your concerns are ignored report the matter to Social Services or the Police by calling 101.
Trust is a key component when pursuing a housing disrepair claim and so we feel it best to introduce you to our team of housing disrepair solicitors. We hope you’ll feel more connected to our housing disrepair solicitors by sharing some key information about their professional experience whilst also finding common ground by sharing their hobbies and interests outside of work. So, grab yourself a coffee and get ready to meet Next Gen Solicitors’ Housing Disrepair team.
Sandra Craig- Head Of Department
Sandra joined Next Gen Solicitors in November 2021 to head up the Housing Disrepair Team.
With over 30 years of experience, Sandra has worked with some of the region’s top law firms. Sandra has a huge wealth of experience in catastrophic injury, dealing with multi-million-pound settlements and cross-jurisdictional cases.
Over the past five years, Sandra’s main focus has been housing disrepair, with a particular focus on housing disrepair claims against social housing landlords. During this time, she has dealt with hundreds of claims representing both claimants and defendants and has a strong history of success.
In addition to making sure that repairs are undertaken, Sandra has been very successful in recovering compensation for tenants in housing disrepair claims. She has the benefit of many years’ experience in assessing whether any other possible causes of action can be brought, such as a claim for personal injury if the client has suffered injury or their health has deteriorated as a result of the disrepair in the property.
Passionate about generating optimal outcomes for clients, she always ensures that not only their repairs are carried out but that they recover any compensation they are entitled to.
When asked why she joined Next Gen Sandra said “ For me, it was an easy decision. “They are a young vibrant firm who are making a big impact with real values. Representing clients in claims against their social housing landlords is not just about getting the repairs done or even recovering compensation – it’s also about being a voice for our clients. Too often social housing tenant’s concerns are simply ignored, and they are left to live in horrendous conditions. Everyone has the right to live in a property that is free from disrepair and fit for human habitation. If we can help our clients achieve this then I know I have done a good job”.
Sandra was sworn in as a Justice of the Peace in 2020 serving the Liverpool and Knowsley Bench. In her spare time Sandra is a passionate Liverpool FC supporter. She loves animals and has four dogs herself, whom she loves to walk. When Sandra is not watching Liverpool FC team or walking her dogs she enjoys nothing more than to indulge in a bit of baking.
Tochukwu Orji – Solicitor
A qualified solicitor with years of experience dealing with civil litigation cases, Tochukwu Orji is a law graduate from the University of Liverpool, where he completed his LP at BPP Law School. He effectively navigates the law to achieve his client’s needs, and takes great pleasure in ensuring that his clients get the justice they deserve.
Tochukwu works within the settlement team and recently obtained compensation in the sum of £8,500.00 for a client who has been suffering with housing disrepair for several years following neglect by her landlord.
In his spare time, Tochukwu enjoys playing Sunday League Football, following his dream club (he has asked us not to mention the name of the club!!), watching crime documentaries and spending time with his 2 beautiful daughters.
Tochukwu had this to say about Next Gen “Working at Next Gen has helped me tremendously in my personal and professional development. Everyone is passionate about helping clients and I’ve learned a lot from the team”.
Daniel Gardner – Solicitor
Daniel joined Next Gen Solicitors in late 2018 as a paralegal working within the personal injury department dealing with RTA claims before moving into the Housing Disrepair Department in late 2020 as part of the settlement team.
Since being at Next Gen Solicitors, Daniel has completed his LPC and training contract and successfully qualified as a Solicitor in November 2021.
Daniel really enjoys working within the housing disrepair sector and takes great satisfaction from helping tenants in difficult situations achieve justice following their landlord’s neglect in relation to their repairing obligations. In his words, ‘I have had great success in negotiating some fantastic settlements for my clients whilst ensuring their properties are repaired to the requisite standard and that compensation is commensurate with the level of stress, loss of enjoyment and inconvenience my clients may have suffered.’
When asked about Next Gen Daniel had this to say “I have been at Next Gen now for 3 years. During this time, I have seen the company grow and develop and I feel proud to be part of this”.
In his spare time Daniel enjoys walking his dog and likes to go on short city breaks across Europe.
Danielle Cottrell – Legal Executive
Danielle joined the department in January 2021 and is part of the housing disrepair settlement team.
As a graduate of Law from the University of Liverpool, Danielle then went onto study the Graduate Fast Track Course at the Liverpool Law Academy of an evening whilst working as a Paralegal for a Defendant firm of Solicitors. She qualified as a Chartered Legal Executive (FCILEx) in 2017.
Danielle’s predominant experience is Defendant Litigation. She has experienced great success in the past in negotiating some fantastic settlements for clients in this area. Danielle has embraced her new role within the department and is applying her skills to ensure that she delivers a service to her clients of a high standard, ensuring that she attains a very reasonable outcome for them. Danielle takes pride in client service and as such, she takes great pleasure in achieving the best result for her clients and ensuring that they get the remuneration they deserve.
Danielle was a speaker at the Law Society Annual Conference in 2017, which she is extremely proud of as this was a challenge and a great accomplishment in her career.
Danielle had this to say about joining Next Gen Solicitors: “ I feel proud to work for a firm with such inspiring values as Next Gen Solicitors and to be a part of a department that is changing people’s lives for the better and continually growing.
In her spare time, Danielle enjoys going to the gym and exploring new places. She is especially fond of long walks and socialising with friends and family. She also loves a good beach holiday!
Sian Dickson – Paralegal
Sian has worked as a paralegal within the First Response Team in the HDR department in Next Gen Solicitors since September 2021. As a member of First Response she deals with our client’s cases from the outset of taking their details, to sending the letter of claim, obtaining disclosure, booking an expert inspection, and obtaining the inspection report. Sian is a key part of the First Response Department and has developed an excellent eye in determining whether a case is viable.
Alongside working full-time, Sian is currently studying for her GDL with hopes to one day enter the world of Corporate Law. Sian joined Next Gen Solicitors to develop her legal skills and legal understanding in readiness for starting her LPC which she hopes to undertake at the same time as a training contract.
Sian started her journey when she went to the University of Liverpool to study Psychology to understand the human mind. She then went on to study a Masters in Forensic Psychology, where she found her passions actually fell into the legal world.
Sian has said that working for Next Gen has “helped her to develop and grow the necessary skills needed to progress and achieve her life goals”.
Ashley Fitzgerald – Paralegal
Ashley is a 22 year old graduate with a 1st class degree in law and Criminology from Birmingham City University.
He started working for Next Gen Solicitors following his graduation from Birmingham City University in September 2021. Ashley originally intended to start post-graduate study and begin his LPC, however he decided to start developing his skills in the workplace first.
Ashley works within the first response team as a paralegal and is thriving in this role. He acknowledges that building relationships with clients and opponents is a fundamental part of the claim process and enjoys forming these relationships.
When asked about how his first experience of working in an office has been, Ashley said “ Next Gen and the Housing Disrepair team have become such a core part of my life and I enjoy working with the team and performing the role that I do. As Head of Department Sandra has made the system in which we work streamlined and I improved the workflow of the department immensely. I don’t regret my decision to develop myself in the workplace and I am grateful for Next Gen Solicitors for giving me the means to develop my skills and to be part of such an amazing team. I still intend to pursue the LPC and become a solicitor but will be doing so alongside my role here”.
Kylie Ong – Paralegal
Kylie came to the UK from Malaysia to study Law at University of Liverpool where she achieved a 2.1 classification. Multilingual, Kylie speaks English, Mandarin, Malay and Cantonese.
She joined Next Gen Solicitors shortly after graduating and works alongside Sian and Ashley as a paralegal within the First Response team.
Outside of work Kylie spends her free time drawing, painting and practising calligraphy. She also enjoys cooking and the occasional baking!
Kylie said “Having not worked in a law firm before, working in Next Gen Solicitors has been a wonderful experience. I am looking to taking the LPC and hopefully securing a training contract. Thus, I am grateful that I was offered the opportunity to work alongside everyone and build experiences along the way to prepare me for the future to come”.
Sophie is the newest recruit, having joined the department in February 2021 undertaking work experience. Sophie is currently studying Law at Liverpool John Moores University and hopes to become a solicitor.
When asked how her work experience was going Sophie had this to say “Working at Next Gen has been a great experience for me. Everyone is so friendly and I’m learning new skills every day. I’m really looking forward to putting these skills to use when I embark on my legal career.
When Sophie is not studying, she loves nothing more than spending time with her boyfriend going for long walks with the dogs and watching Liverpool Football Club.
For social landlords, housing disrepair, particularly damp and mould, has become a major concern.
The Housing Ombudsman carried out a Spotlight investigation into damp and mould, which revealed which council in their report was the lowest-performing landlord on this concern. With 10.8 finds per 10,000 households, Hammersmith & Fulham topped the list as the landlord with the most damp and mould maladministration findings. The ombudsman’s report accused social landlords of cultivating a “culture of blame” among tenants and advocated for a zero-tolerance attitude to damp and mould problems.
An ongoing investigation into the state of social housing by ITV News exposed a tenant’s poor living conditions. This has encouraged a damp and disrepair action plan to be developed. There are also serious concerns about the impact the energy crisis will have on people living in properties suffering from damp and mould.
When renting a house in the United Kingdom, you should feel safe and secure. In the maintenance of a property, both tenants and landlords have a role to play. A landlord, however, is liable for compensation claims if they fail to guarantee that a rented property is safe and in good repair.
Even though the council will be handling a new approach, whereby dehumidifiers and humidity monitors are installed as temporary measures – this is certainly not an effective long-term solution. Damp and mould can make you more likely to have respiratory infections, allergies, and asthma. It can also affect your immune system.
Housing Disrepair Solicitors – Next Gen Can Help You
Feeling safe, secure, and comfortable in your own home is a basic human right. If you are in a position where a landlord has failed to make necessary repairs to a rental home, and this has put you at risk, you may be able to file a claim for housing disrepair – as long as the landlord has been notified first of the disrepair. As housing disrepair solicitors, Next Gen Solicitors can help you assess if the landlord is at fault and whether filing housing disrepair claims would likely result in compensation.
According to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, and the Homes Fitness For Human Habitation Act 2018 (also known as the Human Habitation Act), a landlord has a legal obligation towards the maintenance and general upkeep of a property.
This includes the structure and exterior of your home (walls, roof, foundations, drains, guttering and external pipes, windows and external doors), and also basins, sinks, baths, toilets, pipework, water, gas pipes, electrical wiring, water tanks, boilers, radiators, gas fires, fitted electric fires and/or fitted heaters.
Some examples of disrepair include (but are not limited to) water leaks, water ingress, damp, mould, dry rot, structural issues or faults with your roof, guttering, windows, and doors.
With Next Gen Solicitors, there is no financial risk. A ‘no win no fee’ approach is used, and there are no upfront solicitors’ fees. You only ever pay anything if your ‘no win no fee’ claim is successful.
Housing Disrepair Claims – How To Make One
To make a successful housing disrepair claim, you first have to prove that:
Your home suffers from actionable defects
Your landlord has knowledge of the actionable defects
Your landlord has failed to remedy them within a reasonable period of time
That you have suffered loss and damage as a result of the disrepair
Housing Disrepair Claims – Receiving Compensation
In most cases, the compensation you seek is categorized in three ways:
Claiming for damage to personal belongings: You may be eligible to seek compensation if objects belonging to you or anybody in your household are damaged or destroyed as a result of your landlord’s neglect to make repairs. This includes damp and mould-damaged clothes, bedding, and curtains, as well as carpets and furniture ruined by water escaping from busted pipes that your landlord hasn’t rectified. These goods may be covered by your contents insurance.
Claiming for damage to your health: If you or any member of your household has been injured or suffered illness (or their health has deteriorated) as a result of your landlord’s neglect to make repairs, you may be entitled to claim compensation for personal injury. Physical (e.g., chest infections caused or aggravated by damp, or accidents caused by unsafe stairs) or mental health issues may arise (eg. distress).
Claiming for inconvenience: You may also be entitled to compensation if you have been inconvenienced or unable to use your house in a regular manner as a result of your landlord’s neglect to make necessary repairs. The amount of compensation granted by the court will be determined by the extent of the damage and its impact on you.
It is highly recommended, to support your claims, for example when you make a claim for damage to your personal belongings; to gather as much proof of the damage as possible. If at all possible, keep the spoilt items; they could come in handy if you can show them in court. You should also photograph any damaged items and collect receipts to show that you have to replace them. It will be easier to verify the value of damaged items if you still retain the original receipts.
Similarly, if you claim for personal injury, you’ll have to show the court that the deterioration is connected to your health concerns. The state of disrepair does not have to be the sole cause of the health issues, but it must be a contributing factor.
For example, if your child has asthma, the damp conditions in your house caused by your landlord’s refusal to make repairs would be considered a contributing factor to your child’s illness. You may be required to show a surveyor’s report as well as a medical certificate from your doctor to verify the amount of the damage
With Next Gen Solicitors, you’re in expert hands helping you every step of the way. You’ll be given help and legal support with your claim. It’s time to receive the compensation you deserve for your housing disrepair.
It is safe to say that the social housing market in the UK has had its ups and downs over the last few years. However, one area that seems to be consistently problematic is housing disrepair. While it can be challenging to stay on top of social housing and accommodation repair and maintenance requests as a housing association, certain oversights simply can’t be ignored. In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the biggest housing disrepair issues for 2022. We hope that this information will be helpful for both solicitors and case handlers who are dealing with these types of cases over the next couple of months.
Damp & Housing Disrepair Claims
The global pandemic has certainly reinforced the importance of people’s homes, and there is growing awareness and evidence of the connection between quality of life, mental and physical health, and the home environment. More pressure will be put on housing associations in the UK to resolve issues at home that could impact health and wellbeing, especially as more people than ever before work from home. One of the biggest housing disrepair issues for 2022 is dampness.
Damp can cause a wide variety of problems, including mould and respiratory problems. It can also damage property and furniture. In some cases, it can even lead to health problems for residents. It is important to note that dampness can be caused by a number of things, including defective brickwork, failed damp proof course, poor insulation, leaky roofs and windows, and plumbing problems. If you are dealing with a case involving housing disrepair, it is important to investigate the initial cause of damp in order to hold someone accountable, whether this is a housing association or the local council.
Mould – A Significant Health Concern
Another prominent housing disrepair issue for 2022 is mould. Mould can not only cause but can make worse respiratory health conditions and can trigger asthma attacks, and skin irritation. In some cases, a property with mould can be life-threatening to residents, which is why it is so important to investigate the root cause of mould and what has been done to resolve the issue. If you have a housing disrepair claim that involves mould, you should also take note of any medical conditions the tenants have, along with any health issues that have developed within the past couple of months whilst living at the property.
Gas Safety – Often Overlooked
Another big issue is gas safety. Gas leaks can be extremely dangerous, and in some cases, they can even be fatal. It is therefore important that housing associations take gas safety seriously and ensure that all appliances are checked on a regular basis. Unfortunately, many housing associations can sometimes overlook this health and safety concern. Which can lead to serious and life-threatening risks for residents.
In November 2021 the government announced a new rule regarding carbon monoxide alarms. Each alarm must now be fitted in social and privately rented properties with appliances such as gas boilers and gas fires. Eddie Hughes MP, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing explained that 20 people are killed each year due to carbon monoxide poisoning and this simple intervention can prevent needless deaths. ¹
If you are dealing with a housing disrepair claim in which the property has an unsafe gas connection, it is important to investigate the issue and find out how much time has passed since the last gas safety check. If you are dealing with a case involving an explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning, it is also important to consider whether there were any smoke alarms in place that could have alerted residents of danger earlier.
Electrical Safety At Home
Last but not least, we have electrical safety at home. Now that we live in such a digital-first world, faulty appliances and issues involving electricity can not only be a health and safety issue, but can interrupt those working remotely. And this could lead to unemployment or financial loss.
According to the UK government, there are over 30 deaths a year caused by faulty electrics. And these include fires and electrocution from appliances and wiring. If you suspect that your client has suffered an injury related to poor electrical safety in their home, it is important to investigate this further.