If you think you have disrepair in your home but do not know what to do, you are not alone. Many UK residents also have no idea what their tenant rights are.
As a tenant, one of the first things you need to learn and understand is your right to seek for solutions if your rented home is in need of repair. It is your right and obligation to inform your landlord and request for action on your disrepair issues. If your landlord fails to respond in the time allotted to them, you can file a housing disrepair claim.
What does a housing disrepair claim entail?
After notifying your landlord about the disrepair issues in your home, they are given reasonable time (typically 21 days) to respond or carry out the needed repairs. If they fail to do so, filing a disrepair claim is the next best step for you. This is a lawsuit that allows you, as a tenant, to take legal action against your landlord for ignoring your repair requestsfor the issues in your rented home.
Whether you are renting privately or through the local council or housing association, your landlord is legally obligated to repair any damage in the property that is under their responsibility. They are obliged to ensure that the home is in a good state of repair – i.e. well-maintained structure and exteriors, among other things.
However, a landlord is not obligated to fix damages if you did not inform them of the disrepair and if no request was submitted. This is why you should inform your landlord of any disrepair problems as soon as they appear in your home.
What are common housing disrepair issues?
Common disrepair issues in the UK include the following:
- Damp and mould
- Rodent infestation
- Poor ventilation or lack of or faulty central heating system
- Structural issues
- Broken doors, windows, and gates
- Gas and water leaks
Most housing disrepair cases typically start as damp and mould issues that landlords neglect. Over time, the problems intensify and result in tenants suffering from health issues like allergies and respiratory illnesses.
What repairs are landlords responsible for?
Landlords are obligated to repair common areas in the property, such as the stairs and hallway of an apartment building. Their other responsibilities are:
- Issues in hot water and heating
- Problems in the exteriors and structure of the property
- Damaged or broken baths, sinks, basins, drains, pipes, and other sanitation-related fittings
- Faulty electrical wiring
- Damages resulting from attempted repairs
- Issues in ventilation and flues, pipes, and gas appliances
Your tenancy agreement should indicate both your landlord’s and your repair obligations. Any damage that occurs as a result of your actions is your responsibility.
How can a disrepair claim be established?
There are two factors that you need to establish when you file housing disrepair compensation:
1. The disrepair is known about.
The landlord already knows that their property is in disrepair because you have informed them several times, or they know beforehand that it is in need of repair.
2. The damage could have been avoided.
The landlord is aware that they have failed to respond and take the needed action. Damage could have been avoided if the landlord exercised their responsibilities.
How can I file a disrepair claim? What steps should I take?
If your landlord has not responded to your repair requests, there are several steps that you should follow.
First, ensure that you have documented every issue or problem that you reported to your landlord. This can be in the form of photos, videos, email correspondence, or audio recordings. These documents may prove to be useful evidence once the legal process starts.
You should also prepare a copy of your tenancy agreement, as well as records of medical visits and medical reports. Expert evidence is also crucial, such as reports provided by an Environmental Health Officer.
Your next step is to find a solicitor or team of housing disrepair experts that can help you with all the requirements. They can help you understand your legal choices and responsibilities. Your disrepair team will also help ensure that you properly go through the protocol for housing disrepair cases. A pre-action protocol is outlined in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (LTA85).
What will happen to my disrepair claim if I have rent arrears? Can I be evicted because of the claim?
Even if you have rent arrears, you are eligible for filing a housing disrepair claim. Additionally, if you have been renting for at least 12 months when you filed the claim, your landlord does not have the legal right to evict you. Social tenants have more protections afforded to them than private tenants, which is something to bear in mind if you have a private landlord.
Where can I find help for my disrepair claim?
As mentioned earlier, you can work with a solicitor or a team of housing disrepair experts when filing a claim. The team at Disrepair Claim knows what to do to ensure a successful claim, so you should get in touch with them once you’ve decided to push through with legal action.