If the house you rent is in a state of disrepair and your landlord isn’t properly maintaining it, then you’ll benefit from knowing your rights and how you can improve your situation.
Nobody should live in a house in disrepair. If your home hasn’t been adequately maintained, you might feel like you can’t relax in it. It might feel unsafe or unhygienic, which might even affect your physical and mental health.
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A ‘house in disrepair’ is one that hasn’t been kept in a reasonable condition.
You have a responsibility to look after the house you rent. You must take care of the property, treating it well, and keeping it clean, but your landlord must also play their part. Your job is to look after the house through your day-to-day behavior, but your landlord is responsible for any repairs that happen due to simple wear and tear.
A ‘house in disrepair’ is defined by the Landlord and Tenant Act (1985). This states that landlords must keep a building’s exterior and structure in a good state of repair. They’re responsible for dealing with structural problems, blocked gutters, mould, and infestations.
Your landlord must keep the installations for water, gas, heating, and electricity in proper working order. This includes keeping the boiler working. They must also keep sanitation equipment like toilets, baths, and sinks in full working order, as well as fitting fire alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.
Since the landlord isn’t living in your home, you’ll need to make them aware of any issues that arise. They should then resolve these problems within a reasonable time frame. If your landlord doesn’t properly maintain the property, you might be entitled to claim financial compensation.
Your landlord is responsible for repairs, but not improvements, to your home. They should keep your home in the condition it was in when you first signed the lease but don’t need to improve it by doing things like adding double glazing or cavity wall insulation.
Homes in Disrepair Compensation (also known as Housing Disrepair Compensation) should be paid if your landlord hasn’t properly maintained the home you live in.
You may receive a financial payment to cover any loss. Alternatively, your landlord might be legally forced to make the required repairs. You might get a combination of these two types of compensation – you may receive money, and the landlord might be forced to make the repairs that are needed – but there’s also a chance that you’ll just get one or the other. Your circumstances are taken into account when compensation is awarded, and you’ll likely only receive financial compensation if some financial loss has been suffered.
Compensation can cover a few different things:
Compensation might be paid if the landlord’s negligence has led to the damage of your personal belongings.
You should receive compensation for the damage that’s caused. This might happen if your belongings have been affected by damp and mould.
You might receive personal injury compensation if the landlord is and was neglecting the property has directly led to your injury or illness.
Dealing with a house in disrepair can be very inconvenient. You might be able to claim compensation if you couldn’t use a room in your house or if you had to spend a lot of your time resolving problems caused by the disrepair. You might also receive compensation for the inconvenience if the disrepair was so bad that you had to move out temporarily.
You can make a compensation claim if you have a privately rented home or if you’re living in social housing.
First, you’ll need to check your lease. Find out who is responsible for maintenance. If your landlord is responsible according to the lease, you have got a right to try and claim compensation.
To claim compensation for ‘pain, suffering, and loss of amenity,’ also known as general damages, you must ensure that you have evidence to back up your claim. You should have informed the landlord of the maintenance problems and should have evidence of this. If the landlord doesn’t act, you can contact a solicitor to take legal action. Take photographs, keep letters and record the dates and times of phone calls. All evidence helps when you’re making your compensation claim.
The amount of compensation you receive will depend on the impact of the housing disrepair, including the value of the damaged property and any loss of earnings you’ve experienced due to illness or injury.
For a compensation claim to be successful, you will need to show that you made attempts to negotiate fairly with your landlord. You must show that you were willing to allow the landlord to have the necessary access to the property and that you made reasonable attempts to settle the issues out of court.
Once you’ve spoken to a solicitor, you can start the compensation claim process. Most claims take 9-12 months, though yours may be dealt with slightly sooner if your landlord accepts what you’re saying.
Sometimes, after receiving a letter from a solicitor, a landlord acts quickly to make the repairs that they’ve previously delayed. They don’t want to face legal action, so they’re more likely to fulfill their obligations when a solicitor approaches them. If your landlord comes to an agreement with you, then you might find that all work is carried out within six months, and your case can be closed.
Your compensation claim might result in a financial payment, though the court can also simply order the landlord to make the required repairs.
If the landlord’s lack of action led to your property being damaged or led to illness or injury, then you can still claim compensation once the problems have been fixed. You might be able to claim for emergency repairs that you had to pay for yourself.
You can also claim compensation for further damage and inconvenience during the repairs if they took an unreasonably long time or were extended because the landlord failed to act until small issues had become a bigger problem.
A landlord’s eventual decision to repair your home doesn’t wipe out any damage or harm done before they chose to act.
If you’re a tenant, you can claim housing disrepair compensation. You can make this claim if your house is in disrepair and your landlord isn’t helping. Before making a claim, you should have made attempts to come to an agreement with your landlord.
If your council house is in disrepair, the first step should be to contact the council. The council should work to resolve any issues or explain why they’re not responsible. Your tenancy agreement should contain details of responsibility. The council acts as your landlord, so you’ll claim against them if you need to claim compensation.
If you live in a property that’s managed by a housing association, they’ll be your landlord, and they’re responsible for making repairs to the property. Check your tenancy agreement to see what you’re responsible for and what you’re not. You can claim compensation if the housing association is leaving your home in disrepair.
Private tenants have a right to live in a well-maintained house. If you have a private landlord and they’re leaving your house in disrepair, you can claim compensation. You should first give your landlord a chance to resolve any issues you’ve made them aware of, either directly or through an estate agent that manages the property.
Your home is in disrepair if a lack of maintenance has left it in poor condition. This could mean that you’re in danger or that the house is not safe to live in. The landlord doesn’t need to make improvements to the property but does need to keep it in a reasonable condition.
Walls might become damp because of leaking pipes, cracks in exterior walls, condensation, or rising dampness. All these problems need to be resolved, though condensation might be the tenant’s problem as it can usually be solved by leaving windows open and letting the house breathe.
If damp walls are caused by a structural problem, the landlord must act to make things right. Walls may need damp-proofing, or external wall damage might need to be properly repaired.
If a leaking pipe or plumbing problem has led to water damage, your landlord is responsible for the repairs to the pipework and to the damaged walls, ceilings, or floors. You may also be able to claim compensation for any of your damaged property, like items that were stored in the water damaged area when the leak originally happened.
If there’s a leak, the tenant must do their bit to reduce the risk of damage. You should turn off the water stopcock as soon as you can, then do your best to catch any excess water in buckets or to soak or mop it up. Also, turn off your electrical supply to avoid the risk of electricity and water mixing.
Defective windows and doors can lead to draughts, condensation, and dampness. Though a damaged window seal or a minor crack might seem like a small problem initially, the problems they lead to can escalate quickly and lead to further damage in the home. Broken window locks are also a problem as they’ll make your home less secure.
Any broken electrical fittings are potential safety hazards. They need to be quickly repaired. Even if you’re not at risk of harm, broken electrical fittings should be high on a landlord’s list of maintenance priorities. You should be able to safely use all the plug sockets in your house.
If your boiler is defective, then you could be left without any heating or hot water. Both problems are a health concern, especially through the winter months. You should be able to heat your home and should have hot water for washing. Your landlord can provide temporary fixes like a kettle or a portable heater but should work to very quickly repair a broken or defective boiler.
All gas installations, and water installations, must be properly maintained. Leaking gas is a health hazard, and leaking water can also put your safety at risk. The pipes should be in good condition. You should be able to safely use your gas and your water supply at all times.
Damage to your roof or guttering can cause problems with water drainage. You might find that these lead to water damage issues or flooding around your home. Your landlord is responsible for maintaining the gutters and the roof.
Any infestation is a problem for your landlord to resolve. One of the most common is a rodent infestation. Rats and mice aren’t just an inconvenience but can lead to structural damage when they build their nests. They can also lead to health and safety hazards, especially if they chew through cables and wires. If you’ve spotted rodents around your property or heard them crawling through the walls, then your landlord should act to eradicate these pests before they cause further damage to your home.
Living in a house that’s in disrepair isn’t just an uncomfortable experience. It can also lead to health problems, injuries, and security risks. It’s very important that houses are properly maintained and always kept in a good state of repair.
You may be entitled to compensation for long-term medical problems caused by a house in disrepair:
Many people suffer breathing problems caused by mould. These are particularly common in people with allergies and in people with asthma, though you don’t need a pre-existing condition to feel the effects of mould and dampness. If you’re struggling to breathe as a result of mould and dampness, you deserve compensation for the damage to your health that may be temporary or more long-lasting.
If your boiler doesn’t work, the cold can lead to illness and other issues. Being cold for a long time can lower your immune system, leaving you more likely to catch a cold or struggle with allergy symptoms. If you have joint conditions or certain other health conditions, the cold can exasperate these. Of course, you don’t need an underlying condition to be affected by the cold.
Nobody likes to feel cold and uncomfortable, and in your home, you shouldn’t need to.
Damaged doors and windows can be a health, safety, and security risk. They could mean that burglars have easier access if a window lock or door lock is broken. Alternatively, a damaged door or window might be harder than usual to open. Hard-to-open doors and windows can be a safety risk, reducing your chance of getting out quickly if there’s a fire or emergency.
In order to claim Housing Disrepair Compensation, you will need to prove that you’ve made attempts to get your landlord to make the required repairs. You should keep as much evidence as possible to increase your chance of success.
Many solicitors will operate on a No Win, No Fee basis. This means that they won’t charge their fee unless your claim is successful. When you contact a solicitor, they should be able to review your case quickly, giving you an estimate of your chance of success and deciding if they’d like to take it forward.
If your solicitor feels that your case will be successful, they can choose to take it forward without any up-front charges for you. Once you’ve received your compensation, the defendant may be required to pay your legal fees. Otherwise, your fees can come out of your compensation payment.
If your compensation claim is made at no cost to you, then your landlord will be required to pay your legal fees. The fees will be added to the compensation payment you receive but may be sent directly to the solicitor that represented you. You don’t lose any money at any stage of the claim, so you’re not out of pocket, and you get the full compensation value.
The amount of compensation you receive will depend on several different factors. If you’ve been injured or have suffered from illness, it may include elements like loss of earnings if you’ve been unable to work. You might also receive a pay-out for any pain and suffering, regardless of lost earnings.
If your property is damaged, your compensation payment should cover the costs of replacements. If the payment includes money to replace your property, this will not necessarily be for brand new replacements. Instead, you might receive a payment to purchase replacements second-hand.
Your compensation may include payments to cover the costs of repairs, including reimbursement if you’ve been forced to make these repairs in advance. You might also receive money for the inconvenience if, for example, you’ve been unable to use a room in your house or have been left without any heating or hot water.
Most compensation claims for housing disrepair will end with an award between £1,000 and £10,000. The figure might be much higher if you were severely injured or left with a long-term illness.
You can claim compensation for belongings damaged due to your home’s disrepair. Often when a home has a problem damp, things inside it are also destroyed. You might have to throw away furniture, clothes and other belongings.
Before disposing of any items damaged by your home’s disrepair, make sure that you take photographs and gather as much evidence as possible.
The compensation you receive will be for a like-for-like replacement. If your sofa is damaged but was already a bit worn, you’re unlikely to receive a compensation payment that allows you to buy a brand-new sofa. Instead, you’ll receive financial compensation to buy another sofa second-hand. Just like your landlord is responsible for maintenance rather than upgrades, your compensation will be for maintaining your property rather than upgrading to brand new.
Where possible, make notes about the brands and types of items that you need to throw away. If you have receipts for the original purchases, this can help to maximize your compensation pay-out. Also, try to note, if you can, when each item was purchased.
Even if your rent is paid by Housing Benefit, you are still entitled to claim compensation if your home has been left in disrepair.
If your neighbour’s house is in disrepair, and you believe it’s dangerous, you may be able to make a complaint to the council. You can’t simply complain because you don’t like the way your neighbour’s house looks but should be able to speak to Environmental Health if you believe there are risks to consider.
Your first step should always be to communicate concerns with your neighbour. Try to do this in a friendly way, in case there’s a reason that your neighbour is struggling to keep up with their house maintenance. You may require some form of mediation if you’re concerned that your neighbour’s not very approachable.
If your neighbour’s property is privately rented, you might be able to speak to their landlord or the representing estate agent. It’s the landlord’s job to keep the property in a good state of repair. Otherwise, you might need to find out if it’s a council or housing association property.
If you don’t have any luck after speaking to the landlord, you can contact your local authority or Citizens Advice.
Sometimes, damage to a neighbour’s house is more than just unsightly. A broken gutter could lead to rainwater pooling at the side of your house, where it may increase the risk of damp and mould. A damaged roof could lead to a risk of falling tiles. A rodent problem quickly becomes an issue for you, as well as them.
Some councils have a Dangerous Structures or Dangerous Buildings team. If you’re not getting a response from the landlord or homeowner, check if your council can help. The local authority can enforce repairs and take action if homes aren’t maintained, so even without a specific council team, you should contact your local authority. The Environmental Health department should also be able to help in some circumstances.
Whilst you can’t claim compensation for the costs of repairing a neighbour’s property, you may still be entitled to Housing Disrepair Compensation if your property’s been damaged. Perhaps a falling tile has hit your car, or your house is affected by surface water because your neighbour’s drains have been blocked? Speak to a solicitor to find out more about claiming compensation against your neighbour or against their landlord.
In order for your claim to be successful, it must be clear that your neighbour knew about the issues with their house. They must not just have been aware but must also have had the time and a chance to put things right. If a leaking pipe is sudden but damages your property, your neighbour cannot be held liable. If you’d spoken to your neighbour about their damaged roof and the neighbour had ignored your concerns, you’d be more likely to make a successful compensation claim. Always have evidence, from written records of conversations to letters, recordings, and photographs.
In these situations, claiming compensation should absolutely be a last resort. Wherever possible, speak to your neighbour to find a more amicable resolution.
If your house is in disrepair, your landlord has no legal obligation to rehouse you. You can, however, speak to your landlord and come to some form of agreement.
If you feel that you need to move temporarily, you can ask your landlord to freeze the rent or reduce it. This might allow you to move elsewhere until the landlord has made the repairs. The landlord might not have somewhere else that you can live, though you can negotiate changes to the terms of your tenancy agreement temporarily.
If you feel that you need to move out of the house because of damage to the property, you can ask your landlord to provide you with a new written contract or break your existing tenancy agreement. If you’ve come to an agreement to change the rules temporarily, your landlord should provide you with written confirmation of these changes.
This new document should state when the house will be fixed, how much rent you’ll be expected to pay whilst the repairs are underway, and any compensation or costs that your landlord will cover. This document should also state that you have a right to return to the property once it’s been properly repaired.
If you’re planning to move permanently, you will have to end your tenancy agreement. This must be done in the usual way. Most temporary or permanent changes must happen because of negotiation between you, as the tenant, and your landlord. The landlord has no legal responsibility to rehouse you, and so it’s up to you and your landlord to find a mutual solution.
If your house is in a state of disrepair and you feel that you need to move out, it’s your landlord that you’ll need to speak to.
Your landlord might agree that you need to move temporarily, but they could just as easily decide that they want you to remain where you are. They might agree to a rent reduction, a rent freeze, or even a rebate. Negotiate with your landlord until you come to an agreement. Always make sure that anything agreed is written down.
If you need to move house temporarily or permanently, there is a chance that your landlord might have somewhere else that they can house you. This new property might be cheaper or could be more expensive to live in. If you agree to move to a different property, you might need to cover any increase in rent.
Your landlord has no obligation to find you somewhere else to live. Many landlords don’t have any spare properties, waiting empty for these situations, so you might have to find somewhere else to live whilst you wait for repairs to be completed. Your landlord may agree to reduce your rent or freeze it temporarily so that you have the money you need to pay for somewhere else to live.
If you’ve made the decision that you no longer want to live in the house you’ve been renting, you must follow the usual routes to get out of your tenancy agreement.
If you feel that you’ve been left out of pocket if you’ve needed to move house due to disrepair, you can try to reclaim the money by claiming compensation.
Here at Money Savings Advice, we have partnered with some of the UK’s leading homes in disrepair independent solicitors. They have already helped thousands of people claim compensation, and they can do the same for you.
Choosing an independent solicitor means they won’t recommend a scheme unless they are sure it is in your best interests. Their advice is also regulated by the FCA, which gives you an additional layer of protection.
If you would like to speak to one of these solicitors, then click on the below and answer the very simple questions.
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