Being comfortable and safe in one’s home is a basic right – and that applies if you’re renting someone else’s property too.

Both tenants and landlords have a role to play in keeping a property in good living conditions, but what happens if landlords don’t fulfil their obligation to carry out repairs?

For many tenants this can be a significant cause of distress. And if you find yourself in this situation, not knowing how to proceed (or whether you have any legal grounds for it) can cause additional stress. This is why we’ve put together this guide to help you understand housing disrepair claims and what are your rights in disrepair situations.

What are the grounds for making a disrepair claim?

There are two pieces of legislation that outline a landlord’s responsibility towards the upkeep of a property, as well as what could be grounds for disrepair cases. One is the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, and the other is the Homes Fitness For Human Habitation Act 2018, also known as Human Habitation Act.

Under the Homes Fitness For Human Act, private landlords have the duty to keep the property’s structure and exterior in good condition. This includes the obligation to carry out repairs to:

  • External pipes, walls, roofs, door frames, gutters, floorboards, and drains.
  • Internal walls.
  • Heating installations, both for space and water heating.
  • Water, electricity, gas, and sanitation or sewage installations.

This is not an exhaustive list. There are other things that could be deemed a breach, such as failure to ensure the property is safe. This could include failing to address structural defects, gas leaks, broken doors or locks, lack of compliance with fire safety regulations, vermin, etc.

It’s important to note that legislation highlights the maintenance and repair of installations, which means not all repair claims are valid. For example, a tenant could have grounds for court action if a landlord didn’t keep a bathroom sink in working order. However, legal action wouldn’t be justified if a toothbrush holder broke and the landlord failed to repair or replace it.

Another thing you should know is that you may have a claim for housing upkeep neglect whether the rented property belongs to a local authority, a private individual, or a property management company if they were designated by the owner to ensure living standards were maintained.

Compensation for housing disrepair claims

The compensation you claim is usually divided into three categories:

Personal injury

This would apply if you suffered from ill health as a result of the landlord’s refusal to keep the property in suitable condition. For example, mouldy walls can cause allergies or aggravate existing conditions, such as asthma. Compensation amounts are calculated based on how severely your health has been affected, and if applicable, the duration of the disease or condition caused.

Compensation for personal injury may also cover financial losses that are direct result of ill health. This could include medical costs and lost earnings, for instance if you fell down the stairs due to them being in a poor state of repair and had to miss days of work.

Damage to personal belongings

For example, if a pipe burst as a result of negligence and your computer sustained water damage. In this case, you could claim compensation on the costs incurred in repairing or replacing the computer – with some caveats. Financial compensation would not cover the cost of a new computer, and it’s unlikely that it would equal the amount you paid when you bought the device in the past.

General inconvenience

This refers to any expenses you may have incurred as a result of a housing disrepair. For instance, if your rented home was flooded and became unfit to live in and you needed to pay for alternative accommodation.

Making a housing disrepair claim

Housing disrepair claims can be filed even if you don’t have a tenancy agreement. But before filing one, there are two conditions that must be met:

  • Disrepair could be anticipated. This means that claims are only valid if disrepair was foreseeable and landlords should have a) known about it, or b) been informed about it.
  • The damages could have been avoided. This means that the claim should prove that the landlord intentionally neglected his duty.

To support your claim, you should keep as much evidence as you can, including photos, text messages, videos, emails, receipts, etc.

It may also be necessary to gather supporting evidence from other tenants, and to conduct an independent inspection of the property.

If your health has been affected, liability may also need to be established through the opinion of medical experts.

The process of establishing liability is so complex, but there’s no need to be put off by it or to feel forced to endure unsafe or unhealthy living conditions. If legal costs are a concern, remember that you have recourse to no-win no-fee claims. At  Next Gen Solicitors we are specialists in disrepair cases and we’re ready to assist you through the process of making a strong claim, from beginning to end.