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About

Property disrepair is a legal term to describe the state of disrepair of a property. If a property is in disrepair, the landlord is responsible for repairing the property. If the landlord does not repair the property, the tenant may be able to claim compensation. Solicitors can help with property disrepair claims.Next steps

How much does help with Property Disrepair cost?

The cost for a licensed solicitor to help with Property Disrepair is dependent on many factors including the complexity and specific requirements of the case. On average it is expected to range from £100-£150 but in some cases it could cost as much as £200.

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We all have the right to live in a property that is safe, habitable, and in good repair. Our homes should be our sanctuary, whether we own or rent them. 

Unfortunately in some cases, issues arise where a rented property isn’t maintained or repaired properly by the landlord, resulting in a state of disrepair or deterioration. This can of course cause distress for those living in the property, as well as damaging the landlords and tenants relationship. 

property-disrepair

In this guide, we will cover what you should do if your rental property is in a state of disrepair, your legal rights and practical steps to resolve the situation. 

What is property disrepair?

Property disrepair refers to the condition of a rented property when it is not maintained or repaired adequately by the landlord, resulting in a state of disrepair or deterioration.

Tenants have the right to live in a property that is free from disrepair and is safe for habitation. If the property falls into disrepair, tenants can request repairs and maintenance from their landlord. The tenant is also obliged to report any disrepair promptly to the landlord.

Landlords in the UK have a legal obligation to maintain and repair the property to make sure it is in a good state of repair throughout the tenancy. 

This includes:

  • keeping the structure and exterior of the property in good condition;

  • ensuring that heating and hot water systems are functional;

  • addressing issues such as plumbing, electrical problems, and damp.

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (as amended by the Housing Act 2004) in England provides a statutory right for tenants to request specific repairs that affect their health, safety, or security. The landlord is obligated to carry out these repairs within a certain timeframe.

What is considered property disrepair?

What is considered property disrepair can vary, but it generally includes any issues that make the property unsafe, unsuitable for habitation, or not compliant with statutory requirements. 

Common examples of property disrepair may include:

Damp and Mould: This can result from water leaks, poor insulation, or inadequate ventilation.

Structural Issues: Any damage to the structure of the property, such as cracks in walls or ceilings, damaged roof tiles, or problems with the foundations, may be considered disrepair.

Plumbing Problems: Leaking pipes, faulty plumbing fixtures, or blocked drains can lead to water damage and inconvenience for tenants.

Electrical Issues: Problems with electrical wiring, outlets, or appliances that pose a safety hazard may be considered disrepair.

Heating and Hot Water: If the heating system or hot water supply is unreliable or nonfunctional, it can make the property uninhabitable, especially during colder months.

Pest Infestations: Infestations of pests like rodents, insects, or birds can render a property uninhabitable and are generally considered disrepair.

Roof Leaks: Leaks in the roof can lead to water damage, compromised structural integrity, and damage to the tenant's belongings.

Faulty Windows and Doors: Broken or damaged windows and doors may pose security risks, affect insulation, and lead to heat loss or ingress of pests.

Fire Safety: Issues related to fire safety, such as faulty smoke alarms, missing fire doors, or inadequate escape routes, can constitute disrepair.

Environmental Hazards: Properties with environmental hazards, like asbestos or lead-based paint, that are not properly managed or disclosed can be considered in disrepair.

Security Issues: A lack of secure locks on doors and windows may be considered disrepair if it poses a security risk to the tenant.

Amenities and Appliances: Any amenities or appliances provided as part of the tenancy, such as refrigerators, ovens, or washing machines, should be in working order. Their malfunction can be considered disrepair.

Property disrepair and a landlord’s responsibilities

The responsibilities of landlords are primarily outlined in various pieces of legislation, regulations, and housing laws, rather than a single legal act. 

Some of the key laws and regulations that set out what landlords are responsible for in the UK include:

How long should a landlord take to make repairs?

The time a landlord should take to make repairs in the UK can vary depending on the nature and urgency of the repair. Generally, landlords are expected to address repairs quickly and within a reasonable timeframe to ensure that rented properties are safe and habitable for tenants.

Urgent or emergency repairs that affect the safety, security, or health of tenants should be addressed without delay and within 24 hours. Examples of urgent repairs include a gas leak, a burst water pipe, a non-functioning heating system during cold weather, and a serious electrical fault.

Non-urgent repairs, which do not pose an immediate risk to health or safety but still affect the quality of the property, should be addressed within a reasonable timeframe, commonly within a few weeks or as agreed upon with the tenant.

Some repairs may have legal deadlines or requirements attached to them. For example, landlords are required to ensure that gas safety checks are conducted annually, and electrical installations must be inspected and certified every five years. Compliance with these statutory requirements is crucial.

If a landlord fails to make necessary repairs within a reasonable timeframe, tenants have the right to contact the local authority's environmental health department, start legal action for breach of statutory obligations, or seek compensation.

Property disrepair compensation claims

Property disrepair compensation claims may be started by tenants against landlords or property management companies if the property has not been adequately maintained and falls into disrepair. 

Tenants can also contact their local authority's environmental health department if they believe their landlord is not addressing disrepair issues. The local authority may inspect the property and issue enforcement notices to the landlord.

Tenants can start property disrepair compensation claims through the courts and by seeking legal advice from a solicitor. 

Property disrepair compensation claims often involve court proceedings. The court will assess the evidence, including the extent of the disrepair, the landlord's actions or lack thereof, and the impact on the tenant's quality of life.

The amount of compensation awarded can vary based on the severity of the disrepair, the impact on the tenant, and the losses incurred. The court may order the landlord to pay compensation and, in some cases, carry out the necessary repairs.

When can you make a property disrepair claim?

Tenants can make a property disrepair claim when they believe that the condition of their rented property has deteriorated to a point where it is no longer safe or habitable due to the landlord's failure to address the disrepair.

This includes:

Unsafe or uninhabitable conditions

Tenants can make a property disrepair claim when their rented property has deteriorated to a point where it poses risks to health and safety, making it unsafe or unfit for habitation.

Long-standing or unaddressed disrepair

When landlords fail to address disrepair issues within a reasonable timeframe, tenants may have grounds for a claim. Disrepair that persists despite repeated requests for repairs can be a basis for a claim.

Tenants can make a property disrepair claim if they believe their landlord is in breach of their legal obligations, such as failing to carry out necessary repairs, not meeting safety standards, or not complying with the requirements of tenancy deposit protection schemes.

Losses and inconvenience

Tenants can seek compensation for losses and inconvenience resulting from disrepair. This may include damage to personal belongings, additional expenses incurred due to disrepair (e.g., higher energy bills), and the overall impact on their quality of life.

Neglect of environmental health

If the property's condition poses a risk to health and safety, tenants can contact their local authority's environmental health department, which may inspect the property and issue enforcement notices to the landlord. This can be a precursor to making a property disrepair claim.

Failure to make urgent repairs

Urgent or emergency repairs that affect health and safety must be addressed promptly by landlords. Tenants can make a property disrepair claim if such repairs are not carried out without delay.

What can you claim for?

The claims may seek compensation for a range of losses, including:

  • General damages

  • Damage to personal belongings

  • Additional expenses

  • Rent reduction

  • Compensation for health issues

  • Legal costs 

  • Specific repair costs 

It's important to note that property disrepair claims may be resolved through negotiation or mediation without going to court. In such cases, the specific terms of the settlement can vary and may include a combination of the above elements based on the agreement between the tenant and the landlord.

How much can you get for a property disrepair claim?

The amount a tenant can receive in a property disrepair claim in the UK can vary widely and depends on several factors, including the severity of the disrepair, the specific losses and expenses incurred, the impact on the tenant's quality of life, and the outcome of the legal proceedings.

When pursuing a property disrepair claim, tenants should keep clear records of the disrepair, their communication with the landlord, and any expenses incurred. It is also advisable to seek legal advice or representation from a landlord and tenant lawyer, as property disrepair claims can be complex, and legal professionals can help tenants build a strong case and ensure that their rights are protected throughout the process.

How to prove property disrepair

Proving a property disrepair claim involves gathering and presenting evidence to support your case. 

To prove that your rented property is in disrepair and that your landlord has failed to address the issues adequately, you should follow these steps and consider the following pieces of evidence:

Step 1 -Document the disrepair

Make a comprehensive list of all the disrepair issues in the property. Take detailed photographs and videos.

Step 2 -Keep written communications

Maintain a record of all written communications with your landlord or property management company regarding the disrepair, any health and safety concerns, repair estimates you have obtained or rent reduction you may have asked for.

Step 3 - Correspond with local authorities

If you have reported the disrepair to the local authority's environmental health department, maintain records of this correspondence, including any inspection reports or enforcement notices issued by the local authority.

Step 4 - Get witness statements

If there are witnesses who can attest to the condition of the property or have seen the disrepair firsthand, consider obtaining witness statements. These can support your claim.

Step 5 - Evidence of regular payments

Maintain records of rent payments to show that you have met your financial obligations as a tenant. This can help demonstrate that the disrepair is not due to neglect on your part.

Step 6 - Evidence of repair attempts

If you have attempted to make repairs to the property yourself or have undertaken measures to address the disrepair, document these efforts and any expenses incurred.

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Examples of housing disrepair complaints

examples-of-housing-disrepair-complaints

Housing disrepair complaints can be wide and varied. Some common examples of housing disrepair scenarios are:

Example 

Description of complaint

Damp and Mould

A tenant reports persistent dampness and mould in their property, especially in the bathroom and bedroom. They provide photographs of the affected areas and express concern about potential health issues arising from exposure to mould.

Heating and Hot Water Issues

A tenant complains that the central heating system in their rented property has been malfunctioning for several weeks, leaving them without adequate heating and hot water during the winter months. They submit copies of communications with their landlord requesting repairs.

Electrical Faults

A tenant reports frequent electrical faults in their property, such as power outages and exposed wiring. They have concerns about safety and provide photographic evidence of the electrical issues.

Pest Infestations

A tenant experiences an infestation of rodents in their property, including the kitchen and living areas. They contact their landlord to request pest control but receive no response. They maintain a record of these communications.

Plumbing Issues

A tenant reports plumbing problems, such as blocked drains and leaking pipes. They have incurred additional costs due to plumbing issues, and they maintain records of invoices for plumbing repairs.

Pre action protocol for property disrepair cases

The Pre-Action Protocol for Housing Disrepair Cases is a set of guidelines and procedures established in the UK to govern how property disrepair cases should be handled before court proceedings are initiated.

This protocol is governed by the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) and specifically addresses disrepair cases involving residential properties.

Key elements of the Pre-Action Protocol for Property Disrepair Cases in the UK include:

1. Issuing a letter of claim

2. Gaining a response from the landlord

3. Inspection

4. Response letters

5. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

6. Interim remedial action

7. Pre-action meeting

8. Expert evidence

9. Disclosure of documents

10. Compliance with timeframes

The Pre-Action Protocol for Property Disrepair Cases is designed to promote a fair and efficient resolution process for both tenants and landlords while minimising the need for court involvement.

It encourages communication, transparency, and efforts to reach a resolution before initiating legal proceedings. However, if the issues remain unresolved after following the protocol, the tenant may proceed to file a claim in court to seek compensation for the disrepair.

Who can make a claim for property disrepair?

A claim for property disrepair can be made by the following individuals or parties:

  • Tenants: The most common claimants in property disrepair cases are tenants who are renting residential properties.

  • Former Tenants: Former tenants who have vacated a property but experienced disrepair issues during their tenancy may still have the right to make a property disrepair claim.

  • Family Members: Family members living with a tenant, such as spouses, children, or other dependents.

  • Legal Guardians: Legal guardians of children or individuals who are unable to act on their own behalf, such as those with disabilities.

  • Personal Representatives: In cases where a tenant or former tenant has passed away but experienced disrepair issues during their tenancy, the personal representative or executor of the tenant's estate may make a property disrepair claim.

  • Third-Party Claimants: In some instances, third parties, such as legal representatives, housing advocacy organisations, or local authorities, may initiate property disrepair claims on behalf of tenants or former tenants.

  • Co-Tenants or Joint Tenants: When multiple individuals share a tenancy agreement (e.g., joint tenants), any of the co-tenants may make a property disrepair claim on behalf of all parties if the disrepair affects the entire property.

  • Local Authorities: Local authorities have the power to initiate property disrepair claims against landlords or property management companies.

It's important to note that before making a property disrepair claim, tenants should generally follow specific procedures and communication requirements, such as reporting the disrepair to the landlord in writing and allowing a reasonable timeframe for the repairs to be addressed.

If the landlord fails to take action or the issues persist, tenants may consider pursuing a property disrepair claim with the assistance of legal professionals or housing advocacy organisations.

Should you still pay rent if a property is in disrepair?

Yes, tenants are generally advised to continue paying their rent, even when they are experiencing property disrepair issues. 

Rent and property disrepair issues are considered separate matters. Even if the property is in disrepair, tenants are still required to fulfil their rent payment obligations unless they have a valid reason not to do so.

Failure to pay rent can result in a breach of the tenancy contract, and the landlord may take legal action to recover the unpaid rent, or start eviction proceedings.

Instead of withholding rent, tenants can explore the option of seeking a rent reduction through the appropriate legal channels if the property is in disrepair. A rent reduction should be agreed upon between the tenant and the landlord or, if necessary, be determined by a court.

Tenants who follow proper procedures and continue paying rent are more likely to maintain legal protections and avoid eviction proceedings. Rent arrears, on the other hand, can weaken a tenant's legal position.

How long does a disrepair claim take?

The duration of a property disrepair claim in the UK can vary widely depending on several factors, including the complexity of the case, the cooperation of the parties involved, and the court's caseload.

More complex cases, with multiple disrepair issues or disputes over liability and compensation, may take longer to resolve. Simple cases with straightforward repair requirements may be resolved more quickly.

Some property disrepair claims are resolved through negotiation or mediation without going to court. The time required for these processes can vary, but they may be faster than court proceedings.

In some cases, tenants may seek interim remedial action orders for the most urgent disrepair issues. These orders may be obtained relatively quickly, but they are often intended to address immediate health and safety concerns, not the complete resolution of all disrepair.

Once a judgment is issued, the court may determine the remedies and compensation that the landlord must provide. The time required for these remedies to be implemented can vary.

Tenants and landlords may choose to engage legal representation, which can affect the pace of the case. Legal professionals can help streamline the process and ensure that all legal requirements are met.

How much do property disrepair claims cost?

The cost of property disrepair claims can vary depending on several factors, including the specific circumstances of the case, the legal representation involved, and the court proceedings.

If a tenant or landlord chooses to hire a solicitor or legal representative to handle their property disrepair claim, there will be legal fees associated with this service. Legal fees can vary widely depending on the complexity of the case and the solicitor's hourly rates or fixed fees. In some cases, tenants may be eligible for legal aid, which can cover some or all of the legal costs, based on their financial circumstances.

When initiating court proceedings, both claimants and defendants may be required to pay court fees. These fees can vary based on the specific court and the value of the claim. Tenants seeking property disrepair compensation often file claims in the County Court, and the court fees are typically based on the value of the claim.

In some property disrepair claims, parties may need to obtain expert reports or surveys to assess the extent of the disrepair and the necessary repairs. These reports come with associated costs, which can vary depending on the type and scope of the report.

Legal professionals can provide guidance on the expected costs and help tenants navigate the process efficiently.

Property disrepair and the risk of revenge eviction: considerations

Property disrepair and the risk of revenge eviction is a significant concern. Revenge eviction occurs when a landlord seeks to evict a tenant who has reported disrepair issues or requested repairs. It is often seen as a retaliatory action by the landlord in response to the tenant exercising their rights.

Tenants should be aware of their rights, maintain documentation, and seek legal advice when necessary to prevent unlawful eviction and ensure that their living conditions are safe and habitable.

To find out more, read our guide on revenge eviction. 

Local authorities responsibility for property disrepair

Local authorities in the UK have several responsibilities and powers related to property disrepair in residential rental properties. These responsibilities are primarily aimed at ensuring that properties are safe and habitable for tenants. 

The key aspects of local authorities' responsibilities regarding property disrepair are:

Enforcement of Housing Standards: Local authorities are responsible for enforcing housing standards and regulations within their area.

Environmental Health Departments: Many local authorities have dedicated environmental health departments responsible for addressing property disrepair and other housing-related issues.

Reactive and Proactive Inspections: Local authorities may conduct both reactive inspections in response to tenant complaints and proactive inspections to identify issues in rental properties.

Issuing Improvement Notices: When a local authority identifies disrepair issues in a rental property, they can issue an improvement notice to the landlord.

Emergency Remedial Action: In cases where there is an immediate health and safety risk, local authorities can take emergency remedial action to address the most pressing issues.

Enforcement of HMO Regulations: Local authorities are responsible for ensuring that houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) meet the required safety and habitability standards.

Tenancy Deposit Protection: Local authorities may be responsible for overseeing and enforcing tenancy deposit protection schemes.

Preventing Retaliatory Eviction: Local authorities are also involved in preventing retaliatory eviction by landlords when tenants report disrepair issues.

Support for Vulnerable Tenants: Local authorities often provide support and advice to vulnerable tenants who may be at risk due to property disrepair or other issues.

Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS): Local authorities use the HHSRS to assess the health and safety risks in residential properties.

Section 82 housing disrepair

Section 82 of the Housing Act 1987 (also known as Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990) is a legal provision in the United Kingdom that grants local authorities the power to take action against landlords who fail to address certain housing disrepair issues. This section empowers local authorities to address hazards and disrepair that can affect the health and safety of tenants in rented residential properties.

Section 82 primarily addresses "category 1 hazards" under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). Category 1 hazards are the most severe and pose a serious risk to the health and safety of occupants. Examples of category 1 hazards include structural defects, damp and mould, fire hazards, electrical hazards, and heating system failures.

Tenants who believe they are living in properties with category 1 hazards should contact their local authority's environmental health department to report the issues and request an inspection.

Property disrepair can have several legal consequences for landlords and property owners who fail to meet their obligations. 

Some of the common legal consequences of property disrepair in the UK include:

Financial Compensation

Landlords may be required to compensate tenants for the inconvenience, losses, and expenses caused by the disrepair. This can include compensation for damaged belongings, additional utility costs, and other financial losses incurred due to the disrepair.

Rent Reduction Orders

In some cases, tenants may seek rent reduction orders if the property is not in a habitable condition due to disrepair. A rent reduction can be granted for the period during which the property was in disrepair and not suitable for habitation.

Court Action

Tenants who experience severe disrepair and have not been able to resolve the issues with their landlord may take the matter to court. They can seek court orders to require the landlord to carry out the necessary repairs or seek compensation for losses.

Enforcement Notices

Local authorities have the power to issue enforcement notices to landlords who fail to address disrepair issues that pose health and safety hazards to tenants. These notices specify the required repairs and a timeframe for completion.

Penalties and Fines

Landlords who do not comply with enforcement notices or fail to address disrepair may face penalties and fines. These financial penalties can vary depending on the severity of the violations.

Impact on Rent Possession Claims

In some cases, tenants may counterclaim for rent arrears and other losses in response to a landlord's possession claim. The court may consider these counterclaims when determining possession proceedings.

Section 82 Enforcement

Local authorities can use Section 82 of the Housing Act 1987 to address serious disrepair that poses health and safety risks. This includes the power to issue improvement notices and, in emergencies, carry out remedial action with costs recoverable from the landlord.

Retaliatory Eviction Claims

Landlords who attempt to evict tenants in retaliation for reporting disrepair or exercising their rights may face legal action. The Deregulation Act 2015 introduced measures to prevent retaliatory eviction, requiring that specific conditions be met before a Section 21 notice can be issued.

Impact on Property Value

Property disrepair can lead to a decrease in the value of the property. This can have financial consequences for landlords, especially if they plan to sell the property in the future.

It's essential for both tenants and landlords to be aware of their legal obligations and rights regarding property disrepair. 

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