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What Is Housing Disrepair And What Are Your Rights?

“What is housing disrepair, and how do you file a claim for it?” This question is fundamental for every tenant to understand. 

Access to safe and habitable housing is a fundamental right for everyone. In the UK, social housing plays a crucial role in providing affordable accommodation to millions of people. However, the issue of housing disrepair in social housing is a persistent problem, affecting the health and safety of tenants. 

This article delves into social housing disrepair claims and outlines the rights and responsibilities of tenants in the UK.

 

What is Social Housing Disrepair?

Before we talk about the housing act, let’s first answer the important question: What is housing disrepair?

Social housing disrepair refers to the condition of a property provided by a social landlord (often a local council or housing association) that has deteriorated to a point where it is no longer safe and suitable for tenants to live in. 

Disrepair issues can range from minor nuisances to major concerns, such as the following:

  • Loose stairs

     

  • Faulty boiler

     

  • Dripping taps

     

  • Damaged roof

     

  • Unsafe flooring

     

  • Pest infestations

     

  • Poor electrical wiring

     

  • Exposed electrical wirings

     

  • Damp and mould in your property

     

  • And any other similar housing disrepair issues or damages

     

If your housing condition has affected you in any way, be it financially, emotionally, or mentally, and your social landlord fails to respond or resolve the issue, you may take legal action or file for a social housing disrepair claim.

 

What is the UK’s Housing Act?

The Housing Act 2004 helps ensure that every social housing tenant in the UK has safe and healthy living conditions in their rented property by obligating the landlords to keep their properties in good condition.

There are three existing Acts in the UK that protect your right to safe and habitable social housing:

 

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 Section 11 states that the landlord is obligated to keep their rented property in repair and ensure the following are in proper working order:

  1. The structure and exterior of the property

     

  2. The installations in the dwelling-house

     

Every landlord must ensure that the structure and exterior of their rental house, such as the foundation, roof, and brickwork, are in good condition and maintained to a reasonable standard. This includes the gutters, drains, external pipes, doors, windows, floorboards, plaster, and skirtings.

Part of the list as well are the pipes or cables that supply water, electricity, and gas to and from the house. This includes sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences, basins, and boilers (or other similar heating systems).

The Defective Premises Act 1972

According to Section 4 of the Defective Premises Act 1972, the landlord may be liable for personal injury or damage to belongings caused by broken or unrepaired parts of the house mentioned in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 Section 11. This Act covers both the tenant and guests visiting the property.

For example, when a tenant’s visitor slips due to loose stairs, the landlord is responsible for the medical bills of the injured person.

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018

The Homes Act 2018 simply states that the landlord must ensure that their rental social housing is “fit for human habitation.” Meaning it should be safe and hazard-free for the tenant and their visitors.

If your rented house has issues that the Homes Act 2018 classifies as “hazards”, your landlord is required to provide appropriate solutions. Otherwise, you can take them to court and demand compensation.

 

What is the Average Housing Disrepair Claim?

Claim compensations vary depending on several factors. Two tenants who deal with the same issues will likely receive different amounts of compensation depending on the claim report provided. 

Here are the factors that affect housing disrepair claims:

  • Extent of damage: Is the particular part of your rented house severely damaged that it has affected your quality of life, health, and wellness?

     

  • Health effects: Did the disrepair in your property, perhaps a severe mould infestation, cause health problems for you or your guests?

     

  • Financial losses: Did the disrepair in your house cause damages to your personal belongings or has it increased your utility bills?

     

On average, tenants can receive between 25% and 50% of the total rent value of the property declared in the claim.

Consider a tenant paying a monthly rent of £1,000 who has lived with significant housing disrepair for 12 months. The issues include severe mould and structural damages, leading to health problems and increased heating bills. Given these circumstances, the tenant could be eligible for compensation between £3,000 and £6,000, representing 25% to 50% of the annual rent (£12,000). The total compensation will depend on the specific details and impact of the disrepairs.

 

Your Rights as a Social Housing Tenant

Like homeowners, social housing tenants also have certain rights to the property they’re renting, and the government makes sure to protect those as well by enacting the Acts mentioned above.

As a tenant, it’s important that you know your rights so that you can protect your life, loved ones, health, finances, and well-being.

The three major rights of social housing tenants are:

1. Right to live in safe and habitable conditions

As a tenant in social housing, you have the right to live in a property that is safe, well-maintained, and free from disrepair. This includes having adequate heating, secure doors and windows, a working plumbing system, and freedom from pests and dampness.

2. Right to report disrepair issues

If you notice any disrepair issues in your social housing property, it’s crucial to report them to your landlord as soon as possible. They are legally required to carry out necessary repairs or improvements and maintenance promptly. 

3. Right to fair compensation

If your landlord fails to address disrepair issues within a reasonable period of time, you may be entitled to compensation. This compensation can cover inconveniences, additional costs, or even health problems caused by the disrepair.

 

Steps to Take if You Face Social Housing Disrepair

 

Step 1: Report the Issue in Writing

Always report disrepair issues to your landlord or housing association in writing, as some landlords can deny your claims in court. Keep copies of all correspondence as evidence.

Make sure to mention the following in your report:

  • The details of your report

     

  • The date you sent your report

     

  • The person you sent your report to

     

  • In what way you sent your report (e.g. email, phone call)

     

  • The response of your landlord or the person who received your report

     

Step 2: Allow Access for Inspections and Repairs

You must grant access to your home to be inspected and for repairs to be carried out. Refusing access may complicate the resolution of the issue.

By making an appointment in advance, you can ensure that you can accommodate the contractors during their visit.

Step 3: Contact Environmental Health

If the council or your landlord is unresponsive or fails to make the necessary repairs, you can contact your local Environmental Health Department. They can inspect your property and issue an improvement notice to the landlord if needed.

Step 4: Seek Legal Advice and support

If all else fails, consider seeking legal advice from a solicitor such as our experienced and friendly lawyers from Sandstone Legal, who specialises in housing disrepair claims. That way, you can assert your rights and receive a fair compensation that you are entitled to.

 

Protect Your Life by Asserting Your Rights

Social housing disrepair is a serious issue that is affecting the lives of tenants in the UK. As a tenant, you have the right to live in a property that is safe and in good repair. If you are a tenant living in a rented property that is in disrepair, don’t hesitate to assert your rights, report the issues, and, if necessary, seek legal assistance to ensure that you have a safe and habitable place to call home.

Get in touch with Sandstone Legal today if you have experienced social housing disrepair. Fill out the housing disrepair claim form, and our housing disrepair team can help you file your claim and pursue compensation on a “no win, no fee” basis.

This content is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, financial or professional advice. The information provided is of a general nature and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances and is not intended to be relied upon by you in making (or refraining from making) any specific decisions. 

This site may contain links to third party websites. We are not responsible for and have no liability for the privacy or other practices of any such third party. We recommend that you review the privacy policies of each website you visit. 

This content is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, financial or professional advice. The information provided is of a general nature and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances and is not intended to be relied upon by you in making (or refraining from making) any specific decisions.This site may contain links to third party websites. We are not responsible for and have no liability for the privacy or other practices of any such third party. We recommend that you review the privacy policies of each website you visit.