How to claim compensation from your landlord

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of making a claim, highlighting its importance, and offering top tips for building a strong case.

Council housing, otherwise known as public housing, is essential in providing some of society’s most vulnerable people with safe, secure and affordable housing. However, when these houses fall into disrepair, it can significantly impact quality of life, and can even be a danger to health. Fortunately, tenants have the right to claim compensation from their landlord for housing disrepair. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of making a claim, highlighting its importance, and offering top tips for building a strong case.

leaking roof in council flat

Examples of housing disrepair

When claiming compensation for housing disrepair, it’s important to know what constitutes as disrepair and whether or not it’s your landlord’s responsibility. Legally, disrepair is defined as damage that needs to be repaired and commonly includes the following:

  • Inadequate or faulty heating
  • Leaks, damp and mould
  • Broken or blocked pipes and drains
  • Structural damage to windows, doors, walls and ceiling
  • Pest and/or vermin infestation

Many housing disrepair issues can have a major impact on your physical health, and your landlord has a legal obligation to address and resolve the issues within a reasonable timeframe. 

As a tenant, it is your responsibility to ensure that the property is kept to a clean, livable standard and that minor maintenance is addressed, such as replacing light bulbs, smoke alarms and CO2 detector batteries. Maintenance that falls outside your responsibilities must be documented and raised with your public housing landlord. Should your landlord fail to keep the property in a habitable state, you are entitled to claim compensation.

Why should I claim compensation for housing disrepair?

As a council tenant, you have the legal right to be housed in accommodation that is ‘fit for human habitation’. This means the accommodation needs to be safe, maintained and free from issues that can cause harm to those occupying the property. For example, if your home is subject to mould and dampness, this can expose you to hazardous mould spores and seriously affect your respiratory health.

When your landlord does not meet their legal obligations to ensure the property is maintained to a habitable standard, you’re within your right to claim compensation for housing disrepair. 

It is simply your entitlement to live in safe, well-maintained accommodation. Should you find that your landlord is not resolving maintenance issues in a timely manner, you are within your right to make a compensation claim.

mould in house due to housing disrepair

Tips for building a strong case for your housing disrepair claim

Should you choose to claim for housing disrepair against your council landlord in the UK, you will need to gather evidence to demonstrate that your landlord has failed in their legal obligation to maintain the rental property. You must show that due to their negligence, the housing association or council has caused you some form of harm, which may include:

  • Inconvenience: an example could be the time spent on chasing your landlord rather than working. 
  • Damage to your belongings: this could be electrical damage due to damp or mould damage to household belongings.
  • Financial losses: this could include costs of replacing or repairing household items or costs incurred by third parties.
  • Physical injuries: this includes poor health conditions and injury as a result of your living conditions.

Evidence of reported issues

To prove that you have informed your housing association or local council about the disrepair you will need to provide notice of repairs. This step is crucial as they cannot be held liable if they were not made aware of the issue.

Please gather any correspondence you have had with your landlord. If you reported the disrepair via text messages or email, these would be particularly useful as they provide clear evidence of the date, time, and content of your communication. Such correspondence can reveal the landlord’s disregard for the problem, denial of responsibility, or incompetence, and it plays a pivotal role in substantiating your claim.

If your communication was over the phone or in person, we can take a statement from you as a witness. Simply provide the date and do your best to recall the conversation. It would be ideal to take a screenshot of the call log after the call to document the date, time, and duration.

Evidence of the disrepair

You will also need to provide evidence of the disrepair. As soon as the issues occur, begin taking photos or videos using your phone and consistently document the problem. These photos or videos serve as crucial evidence to illustrate the extent and duration of the disrepair.

Should you think it would be beneficial to your case, you could hire a surveyor or structural engineer to visit your property, assess the problem, and furnish a detailed report confirming the issue. This report bolsters your case by affirming the existence of the problem and establishing your landlord’s repair obligations.

Evidence of damaged belongings

If the housing disrepair has damaged your belongings, we will require photographs of the affected items, and if you have replaced any of these items, please keep the receipts and invoices.

Damp, mould, water leaks, and structural damage are among the common causes of damage to personal belongings. Many individuals seek compensation for damaged clothing, furniture, and soft furnishings like rugs and cushions. However, this list is not exhaustive. If the housing disrepair has harmed any of your belongings, be sure to gather evidence of it.

Evidence of injuries or illness

Housing disrepair can lead to personal injuries and illnesses. Damp, mould, and asbestos can exacerbate respiratory problems and even cause cancer. Neglected disrepair can result in fractures, lacerations, or crushing injuries. Regardless of the nature of the injury, consult your general practitioner who can offer treatment or refer you to a specialist if necessary.

Requesting a copy of your medical records will demonstrate that you sought medical assistance for the health issues caused by the disrepair. For certain injuries, a medical expert may evaluate your condition and provide a report; this is standard procedure in claims involving physical injuries.

Evidence of financial loss

If you have incurred any financial losses as a result of the housing disrepair, we will require evidence to substantiate your claim. These losses may include past and future earnings, temporary accommodation costs, travel expenses, medication expenses, specialist equipment costs and utility bills.

Ensure to maintain a record of all the money you have spent or lost, and retain receipts whenever possible. If relevant, we may also request copies of your bank statements, pay slips, and utility bills.

How to claim housing disrepair compensation from your landlord

You do not need to live in uninhabitable, unkempt accommodation; it’s your landlord’s responsibility to provide you with safe and suitable housing. If your landlord has ignored your maintenance requests, taken an unreasonable amount of time to resolve the issue or has been generally negligent towards the housing disrepair, you can begin your claim for compensation.

Our team of expert housing disrepair solicitors specialises in aiding tenants who rent from housing associations, social housing providers, or local authorities in obtaining necessary repairs and securing compensation for any inconvenience, ill health and damage caused.

If your home is in disrepair and your landlord is unwilling to carry out the required repairs, contact FDM Solicitors for a complimentary consultation without any obligation.

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