Housing Disrepair Solicitors | What To Do If Your Landlord Won't Fix Your Home
What is housing disrepair?Just as the name suggests, housing disrepair is when your home has fallen into an unacceptable condition and your landlord, having been told of the disrepair, fails to repair it. Housing Disrepair can apply to private, council and housing association rental situations.
What rights do I have as a tenant?
Under your tenancy agreement and statutory law you have the right to quiet enjoyment of your property and reasonable living standards and to live comfortably in your home. Your home must be free of hazards or damage. It should not cause your undue stress, inconvenience or harm. You and your belongings should be safe. You should not have to live with disrepair.
What are the obligations of my landlord?
Your landlord is responsible for fixing most things in your property, excluding some smaller issues such as e.g. lightbulbs. This applies to both private, council and housing association landlords.
The landlord must look after:
- The structure and exterior of the building, including the drains, gutters and external pipes, roof, external doors and windows
- Keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences
- Heating and hot water
- Chimneys and ventilation
- Gas appliances
- Electrical wiring
- Communal parts of the building, such as entrance halls, communal stairways and shared kitchens
If damage to internal decorations are caused by repair problems or arise during the repair process, your landlord must also fix this.
Other important responsibilities of your landlord include:
- Health hazards, such as damp & mould or pests & vermin. Your home should be free of any hazards that can affect the health and safety of anyone in your household
- Gas safety. Gas appliances must be safe and inspected each year by a Gas Safe Engineer
- Electrical appliances must be safe, as well as the electrical wiring in your home
- Fire safety - there must be smoke alarms on each floor of your home and carbon monoxide detectors in rooms with a coal fire or wood burning stove. All furniture must also meet fire safety regulations
If you have any such problems in your rental home, it is imperative you contact your landlord as soon as possible.
What are my obligations as a tenant?
It is your responsibility to:
- Use your home in a responsible way
- Keep it clean
- Not damage the property and ensure guest’s don’t either
- Carry out minor maintenance such as changing light bulbs and fuses and replacing smoke alarm batteries
- Keep chimneys and ventilation free of blockages
The specifics of what you are responsible for will be set out in your tenancy agreement.
Can I claim compensation if my landlord fails to fulfil their obligations?
You can make a claim for compensation if your landlord has failed to repair the disrepair that you have reported to them within a reasonable time or at all. You can claim compensation if the disrepair has:
- made you or someone in your household ill or injured
- damaged your belongings
- caused you inconvenience (like in the example above)
What evidence will I need?
Helpful evidence can include:
- Your tenancy agreement
- Copies of any correspondence between you and your landlord about the disrepair
- Photographs of the disrepair
- A list of or photographs of belongings that have been damaged because of the disrepair and copies of receipts if you had to replace damaged items
- Copies of medical reports or a note of medical visits if you were injured or made ill by the disrepair
- Any expert evidence you have, for example, reports from a surveyor or an Environmental Health Officer
How much compensation can I claim?
This will entirely depend on your individual circumstances. It could range from a few hundred to thousands of pounds.
The court will compensate you for the ‘distress, loss of quiet enjoyment, suffering and loss of amenity’ caused by your situation. After all, it is very inconvenient and stressful living in a property in disrepair. Maybe you even had to leave your home as a result of the disrepair or fell ill. Your possessions may have been damaged or destroyed. All these factors are taken into consideration when calculating compensation.
At its most basic, compensation will give you back a percentage of the rent you paid while living with disrepair. This applies even if someone else pays your rent, such as the Housing Benefit department. The compensation does not seek to literally pay you back for the rent paid, rather it is a way of calculating how much you should be owed for your suffering. The percentage you receive will depend on how severe the disrepair was.
The most common percentage ranges from 15% to 50%. For example:
Your rent is £400.00 per month and you have been living with disrepair that you reported to you landlord for 12 months. So in that time your landlord has received £4800.00 in rent. It is assessed that the level of disrepair you have had to put up with merits a 35% reduction in the rent which is £1680.00. This would be the level of general damages awarded for distress and inconvenience. In addition you could claim special damages ie damage to decoration or personal possessions.
The most important element of a housing disrepair claim though, is that your living standards will be restored to an acceptable condition so you and your loved ones can continue living.
How can I begin my housing disrepair claim?
You should get in touch with a solicitor who is experienced in this particular area of law.
Who are GWlegal?
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Content correct at time of publication.