As part of our disrepair blog series we can now share another successful outcome. Our client has been the tenant of a large Housing Association since July 2010 and for over half of that time has suffered from disrepair at her home including extensive dampness to the bathroom, bedrooms and hallway as a result of leaking pipework and damp to the living room due to a leak from above. This was confirmed by an expert we instructed to inspect her property. We assisted her in 2016 with bringing a claim against her landlord which resulted in a Court Order that works must be completed as recommended by the expert and that the client should be paid compensation of £10,000.
Our client returned to us in 2020 and notified us that although the money had been paid, the works had not been completed. We again instructed an expert to inspect the property who confirmed that the original problems were all still present as well as intermittent problems with the heating system which had been ongoing for about a year. Letters of Claim were sent to the landlords accordingly to put them on notice that we considered they were in breach of their repairing obligations and indeed in breach of the previous Court Order. No response was received and proceedings were issued.
Although the client suffered from long term health problems and although the Housing Association never produced any expert evidence to contradict the report obtained, they continued to defend the claim right up until a week before the trial. At this stage negotiations were entered into and an agreement reached which was formalised by the Court. Under the agreed terms the landlord has to complete all works in the updated report and pay our client compensation in the sum of £19,500. They also are now required to fund a post-inspection by our expert after works have been done and to complete any further repairs that he recommends. This was considered necessary in view of their previous failure to abide by a Court Order.
Unfortunately this failure by a Housing Association to engage until the last minute is not unusual. Letters before claim are often ignored and it is not until a claim is issued that they respond. This shows the importance of seeking legal advice where possible to ensure potential claims can be brought as quickly as possible.
Sophie Bell is a Partner in our leading Housing Team (ranked tier 1 by Legal 500 and Chambers UK legal directories). Sophie deals with a wide variety of housing cases including possession and eviction matters, homeless applications and appeals and disrepair cases. She is also experienced in bringing Judicial Review matters.