Tenants living in rented accommodation have a legal right to a safe and habitable environment where they feel comfortable and secure. Unfortunately, this isn’t the reality for many tenants across the UK.
We see many tenants living in properties that suffer from various forms of disrepair, from electrical and heating issues to problems affecting the structural integrity of the building and many more.
If you live in a property that is in a state of disrepair, you have the right to have it repaired by your landlord, local council or housing association. However, that can sometimes be easier said than done and it’s not always plain sailing if your landlord won’t oblige. That’s where housing disrepair claims come in.
We recently covered what housing disrepair is and some of the common issues that may make you eligible, but in order to make a successful claim, it needs to be proven.
Let’s take a look at some of the steps that should be followed in the claims process and what evidence you need to make a case.
1. Document the disrepair
The first and most crucial step that should be taken in proving housing disrepair is documentation. As a tenant, it will only strengthen your case if you create a detailed record of all of the issues affecting the property.
The best way to prove housing disrepair is to start collecting evidence straight away. This can take many forms, including:
- Photographic evidence of the damage
- Videos of the damage
- Witness statements from neighbours or visitors who have seen the damage
- Reports from surveyors or other professionals
The documents you collect should cover all visible damages and ideally be timestamped so that they can serve as irrefutable proof of the conditions you were living in at a specific point in time.
We’d recommend maintaining a written record of when the issues were reported to your landlord and include all evidence of correspondence and photography within that so a strong timeline of events can be established.
2. Report the disrepair to your landlord
Claiming for housing disrepair is only possible if you have valid evidence of reporting the problem to your landlord. Once you have documented the issues, you should:
- Formally report the disrepair to your landlord in writing, clearly outlining the problems and requesting they take prompt action to rectify them
- Wait at least two weeks after you first reported the problem and if nothing has progressed, contact them again
- If after another two weeks you haven’t heard back from them, send a final letter notifying them that they have 48 hours to respond before you progress the matter
Landlords are legally obligated to address your concerns and rectify the issues should they fall under their responsibilities, within a reasonable timeframe. Failure to do so means that they are essentially in breach of contract with you, giving you the right to pursue legal action. This includes both acknowledging your concerns but refusing to rectify them and also ignoring all of your correspondence.
3. Keep communication records and evidence
Maintaining a complete record of all communications with your landlord or housing association is vital to building a strong case. This includes emails, letters and any other forms of communication regarding the reported disrepair – this is why we recommend you report all issues in writing.
Should your landlord acknowledge the issue but fail to take action in a timely manner, you should remind them in writing of their legal responsibilities and possible consequences. This way, any back-and-forth communication can be documented and we can build a transparent record of attempts to resolve the matter on your behalf.
4. Get legal advice
If all else fails and you have had no luck in resolving matters privately with your landlord, it’s time to seek legal advice. Consulting with a housing disrepair solicitor is your best option as they can provide expert advice and insights into your situation.
It’s important to note that whilst this may seem daunting, you do have full rights as a tenant to pursue legal action as there are laws in place to protect you from unsafe and inhabitable living conditions. Housing disrepair solicitors can assess the strength of your case and guide you through the legal process, representing you in court.
Start your housing disrepair claim
FDM Solicitors specialise in driving successful housing disrepair claims, representing tenants in the UK who rent from local authorities, housing associations or social housing.
Proving housing disrepair can be a complex process that requires careful documentation and effective communication, along with a good understanding of tenant rights. That’s why it’s best to pursue such legal matters with an expert who has experience in the field.
We believe that no tenant should hesitate to assert their rights with housing disrepair, and we’re passionate about doing so on your behalf. What’s more, we operate on a no-win no-fee basis so you have nothing to lose, and you don’t pay us a penny if your case loses at Trial and it wasn’t your fault.