Housing Disrepair Scandal in South London19 Aug 2021 | Samuel O’Flaherty
Following an investigation by ITV nearly 500 homes in the Eastfields Estate in Mitcham, south London, owned by the housing association Clarion Housing were found to include damp, severe mould, rotting/crumbling plaster, ongoing leaks, collapsing ceilings, and broken tiling as well as mice and rats infestations. It was found that many residents had raised complaints to Clarion for a long time but these had been largely ignored.
In response, Clarion has promised to regenerate the estate and invest £1 billion to demolish the current blocks and rehouse the residents in new properties. However, this was first promised in 2015 and Clarion have now said that it could be another five years before residents are moved out. In the meantime, residents continue to face awful housing conditions.
What can be done?
There are a number of legal options available to residents who are experiencing similar issues, whether or not they are waiting to be rehomed.
Landlords such as Clarion owe their tenants a number of legal obligations, including:
- To keep in repair the structure and exterior of the property (including drains, gutters and external pipes).
- To keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the property for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences, but not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity).
- To keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the property for space heating and heating water.
- A duty of care to ensure that all people who could reasonably be affected by ‘relevant defects’ in the state of the premises (e.g. tenants, their household and visitors) are reasonably safe from personal injury or damage to their property resulting from the defects.
- To carry out any repairs with a reasonable degree of skill and competence.
- To take reasonable steps to remove any negative effects arising from defects at the property which are injurious, or likely to cause injury, to health.
- To take reasonable steps to stop any infestation in to the property that is being caused by a defect from part of the property/land which the landlord owns and retains control over.
- To make sure that the property is decently fit for human beings to live in. This covers a wide range of issues, including:
|Repairs||Ventilation||Damp and mould growth|
|Excess cold||Excess hot||Asbestos and MMF|
|Biocides||Carbon monoxide and fuel combustion products||Lead|
|Radiation||Uncombusted fuel gas||Volatile organic compounds|
|Crowding and spacing||Entry by intruders||Lighting|
|Noise||Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse||Food safety|
|Personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage||Water supply||Falls associated with baths etc|
|Falling on level surfaces etc||Falling on stairs etc||Falling between levels|
|Electrical hazards||Fire||Flames, hot surfaces etc|
|Collision and Entrapment||Explosions||Position and operability of amenities|
|Structural collapse and falling elements|
- Any other specific repairing obligations that are set out in the tenancy agreement.
Once the landlord knows, or ought to know, about any issues at the property which fall under the above obligations, it must fix them within a reasonable time. If the landlord does not, then the tenant may be able to apply for a Court Order to force the landlord to carry out the repair works and to pay the tenant compensation
Help From Expert Housing Disrepair Lawyers
For those who are financially eligible, legal aid is available where disrepair is posing a serious risk to health, to fund court proceedings to get an order requiring a landlord to carry out specific works.
In certain circumstances it is also possible to fund a claim for compensation under a ‘no win no fee’ agreement (known as a Conditional Fee Agreement), for the losses you may have suffered and your loss of enjoyment of your tenancy.
If you are experiencing serious disrepair issues please contact our Housing Disrepair Team to find out how we may be able to help. You can call us, or complete an online enquiry form.
[iStock image used]
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“Osbornes has an impressive social housing team and the quality of their work that I have seen is very high. Will Ford is a very well-regarded figure in the housing law world and leads a team of high quality and committed lawyers. The existence of family and property law teams at the firm, amongst others, means that they are able to offer a holistic and expert approach to their clients.”
William Ford is "highly committed to his clients and leaves no stone unturned in seeking to assist them with their problems"
William Ford "is an astute litigator, and his breadth of knowledge allows him to take a holistic approach to clients’ situations."
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"William Ford frequently represents tenants in possession proceedings, homelessness appeals and disrepair claims... and is praised for his dynamic and hard-working approach."
"Osbornes team is noted for cross-practice expertise in areas such as housing and community care, which it brings to bear in disrepair, possession and homelessness cases involving vulnerable adults, individuals with language difficulties, the elderly and those with no recourse to public funds."
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I was very happy with the excellent service from Osbornes in my disrepair case. They obtained a great result in my case and always pushed hard for my rights.
The social housing team is friendly, approachable and genuinely care about its clients.
A broad knowledge places the social housing department one step ahead of others when it comes to community care knowledge.
The social housing department always go the extra mile.
The social housing team has a strong track record in representing tenants in claims against local authorities and housing associations, with particular expertise in complex disrepair and possession cases.
The social housing department provides an excellent service and is able to react quickly in critical situations.
Thanks for all your support during this very difficult time for my family.
William Ford receives effusive praise for his dedication and commitment to social housing. Interviewees highlight his technical understanding and background in housing law, and describe him as highly impressive."
The team understand vulnerable clients and young people, and on the front line they are prompt and efficient.
Edward Taylor undertook my case from an almost unwinnable position. From our first meeting, Edward's enthusiasm was apparent. He was determined, diligent and most professional when dealing with my case, keeping me informed at every stage. I wholeheartedly thank Edward for his endeavours and would not hesitate in recommending him and Osbornes Solicitors to others.
Osbornes Solicitors give us the confidence and strength to continue and input the belief that the case would turn in our favour … What was most important was the transparency in communication that Osbornes provided.
Osbornes Solicitors are the pinnacle of professionalism and have gone beyond to assist with this case … I felt that I wasn't only dealing with just one dedicated solicitor but I had a good knowledgeable team behind me at all times.
I have been extremely impressed with the level of patience and guidance provided in the case … I would like to thank you for your sympathetic approach and understanding towards my mother’s case and I would strongly recommend Osbornes Solicitors to anybody.
'First-class lawyer' William Ford is 'completely dedicated to making a positive difference', and is acting in cases challenging the 'bedroom tax'.
Osbornes is commended for its 'rare level of commitment'.
William acts on possession, disrepair and homelessness cases, and has particular expertise in the protection of tenancy deposits under the Housing Act 2004
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