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Over £50,000 Damages Awarded Following Court’s Consideration Of A Home Which Was Unfit For Human Habitation

Ms D v London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham at Central London County Court, 9 November 2023

Ms D instructed Farzana Chowdhury, Housing Partner at Hodge Jones & Allen having experienced disrepair issues from the day she moved into the property.

She had been a secure tenant of London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF) since May 2010.

The property suffered from long standing disrepair including leaks, damp, mould, cracks to walls and ceiling and ill-fitting and defective doors and windows

Farzana arranged for an inspection of the property by an independent expert surveyor. The surveyor confirmed that the property was in disrepair and that LBHF were in breach of their repairing obligations under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and in breach of the duty of care under Section 4 of the Defective Premises Act 1972. The report also confirmed that the premises were unfit for human habitation.

Proceedings were subsequently issued against LBHF.

At trial the Judge struck out the council’s Defence and entered judgment for Ms D and awarded damages from the start of her tenancy. When assessing damages the Judge accepted that the property disrepair of her home fell into three broad periods of time, namely

  • 2010 to 2014 – disrepair which included cracks to the walls and ceilings, damp and mould, watermarks to the ceiling and a boiler that frequently lost pressure
  • 2013 to March 2020 – further deterioration to her home caused by a leaking roof
  • 20 March 2020 – the date from which the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 applied to all tenancies in existence.

The most common way of assessing damages in disrepair cases is a percentage deduction of the rent.

The Judge awarded damages of 35% and 40% for the first 2 periods however for the last period the Judge awarded damages of 100% of the rent from March 2020, which is when the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 came into force.

Farzana commented on this important outcome:

“This is a significant decision and one of the first on a property’s fitness for human habitation. The judge held that if a property is deemed unfit for human habitation, the tenant derives no benefit from it and, therefore, the diminution of the rent should be 100%. My client suffered intolerable living conditions for a number of years and Hammersmith and Fulham chose to ignore her situation. This is the only decision the court could come too.”

Farzana Chowdhury is partner and highly experienced housing solicitor with a long track record of successfully settling housing disrepair claims. She has a reputation for taking on the more challenging housing cases and obtaining excellent results for her clients. Her range of experience extends across housing disrepair including group litigation, possession and homelessness cases. She has a particular interest too in succession and sub-letting cases.