For 18 months, the housing association of Gosport homes in Hampshire had been ignoring the complaints of one of their tenant-families about living in an uninhabitable home. Unfortunately, the family is most likely part of the 48% of families in social housing that were ignored or were not provided assistance at all regarding their requests for repair.
The family were awarded £2,500 as compensation for having endured a year and a half of poor living conditions. The property in Vivid Homes had disrepair in home issues that made the house unfit for habitation. The radiators in the kitchen and the dining room had no thermostat controls and the heating system was defective. There was a broken window that would not open, meaning the home did not have enough ventilation.
The couple, their two children, and their dog had to endure sleeping in a bedroom and getting food from a kitchen with air that was filled with disease-causing mould. Aside from water leaks, there was clearly a rodent infestation as there were mice droppings in the bathroom. The presence of the rodent faeces is a very real threat as droppings can dry up, turn to dust, and spread out in the air tenants breathe. Without even touching the droppings, the family could have contracted them by unintentionally inhaling the dust.
Homes (Fit for Habitation) Act 2018
The family’s rented home was clearly in a state of severe disrepair. Renters of social homes are also covered by the Homes Act of 2018. This law ensures a rented home is fit to be lived in, free from health and safety risks.
Tenants may be forced to suffer bad living conditions because they are afraid of being evicted if they register a complaint, or because their landlords do not respond to their demands at all. This law applies to all renters who have a fixed term of less than seven years and whose tenancy agreements began on or after March 20, 2019, whether they are private or social renters.
How to file a claim
If you find yourself in a state similar to the Gosport family’s, or if your landlord is ignoring repair requests for damage that has rendered your property uninhabitable, you may be eligible to sue your landlord for housing disrepair compensation. Here are several tips that might help you better understand your situation:
- Identify the issues by differentiating a repair from an improvement. A repair is when you fix something in order to make it work again. An improvement is mostly installing additional fixtures that could just be for aesthetic purposes.
- The best next step is to negotiate with your landlord. First, you need to gather evidence by taking photos and videos of your home and include those in your housing disrepair claim. You can claim for damages to your personal belongings, your health, and your finances, as well as the distress the disrepair caused you. The inconveniences could be related to your work schedule, not being able to relax properly in your home, or the opportunity cost of waiting around for the inspections and repairmen.
- Once you have all of the images and videos of your home’s terrible condition, send them to your landlord through email and let them know what you’ve sent them by text. If you take the issue to court, this material, including the time-stamped email thread, can be used as evidence.
- Landlords must be informed of the damaged parts of the home as they could be unaware that they exist. Contact them as soon as you discover dilapidated parts, what could have caused them, how long they have been there, and where they are in your home.
- Should they choose to act on your request promptly, they will visit your flat to investigate or send someone to do so for them. They have the right as owners/landlords to access your flat provided that they inform you 24 hours ahead of their supposed schedule.
How fast your landlord can respond to the amount of damage that needs to be repaired is important. Having various repairs done will be logistically challenging as they will need to contact different contractors for each area. For example, they will need a plumber for water leaks and an electrician for faulty circuitry.
Your landlord or the housing association should give you a response within 21 days after your first call to them. If they are taking too long to react to your complaints, you can choose the path that the Gosport family took in order to get compensated. The housing association’s neglect of their family’s situation caused them so much distress they had to seek the help of a team of solicitors to resolve their case.
To start making your disrepair compensation claim, contact the housing disrepair experts at Disrepair Claim. They can help you get back everything you lost from the disrepair in your home.