Prolonged External Leaks

Ask Our Solicitors

Solicitor & manager Housing Conditions Department
James Charters

Q

It’s been 3 months since I reported a leak in my living room to my Housing Association. They haven’t sent anyone out to check. Since the pandemic I have been in arrears, so they have since stated they will only fix the problem when I pay off the amount in full. I already have a payment plan in place, and I come home after work to water dripping all over the sofa. I cannot afford new furniture, and the damp air and smell is making me feel sick.

What can I do?

A

I just want to start by saying that I am sorry to hear that your housing association has left you for over three months in these conditions.

You mentioned that your furniture is being damaged by the leak. In many of our cases, we claim compensation for damaged belongings. In UK law this is called, “special damages”, or “out of pocket expenses”; incurred as a result of your landlords alleged failure to comply with their obligations to repair within a reasonable timeframe.

Unfortunately, many of our clients come to us after being left for long periods of time with internal leaks, especially in winter.

No one case is the same. A recent case I settled involved a collapsed living room ceiling due to an untreated internal leak. Another involved a tenant who had been forced to move out of the property for nine months due to severe flooding.
Leaks are serious and can lead to structural collapse if left untreated.

For most tenants, landlords are under an obligation to repair/maintain the structure and exterior of a property. Leaks tend to affect ceilings/walls which generally form part of the structure of the property.

Landlords are still obligated to fix the property should any disrepair arise even if you are in arrears. We’ve seen a rise in cases like yours over the past year, as many tenants are reporting problems without a response.

An inquiry by MPs recently found that the deterioration of social housing has left many like you in appalling conditions. Tenants are left with little choice but to seek legal advice after pursuit of other channels fails to produce any results.

As a reputable legal firm, we would never harm the relationship between you and your landlord. Many cases settle amicably early on, without going to court.

My recommendation would be to make a note of every contact attempt with your landlord. Take photos/videos of the leak and resulting damage. Make sure you notify your landlord in writing either via your MP or directly so if your landlord fails to keep an accurate record of your conversations, you have a backup.

Due to the length of time without action, you can take this directly to a Solicitor. Preferably one who works on No-Win, No-Fee basis. Not only will they work to force landlord repairs, but the firm will seek compensation for damaged belongings and rent paid whilst living in these conditions.

If you have any more queries, you can check our FAQs page. Our lines are open for contact between 08:30AM and 07:00PM Monday to Thursday and 08:30AM to 4:30PM on Friday.

James’ top tips

1

Keep a hold of your Tenancy Agreement. It explains what your landlord’s obligations are. The obligations which your landlord must adhere to by law will be covered by this document.

2

I recommend taking photos before, during, and after the repairs stage. Legally, it helps to establish the severity of the problem and the length of time you’ve dealt with it. This impacts the amount of compensation you may gain.

3

Persistency is key. Landlords are more likely to fulfil obligations if they know tenants are aware of their rights and persist in trying to get repairs. If action still does not take place, this serves to strengthen your case if you begin legal proceedings.

Ask us anything here!