Housing Disrepair Scandal in South London

19 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:
RepairsVentilationDamp and mould growth
Excess cold Excess hotAsbestos and MMF
BiocidesCarbon monoxide and fuel combustion productsLead
RadiationUncombusted fuel gasVolatile organic compounds
Crowding and spacingEntry by intrudersLighting
NoiseDomestic hygiene, pests and refuseFood safety
Personal hygiene, sanitation and drainageWater supplyFalls associated with baths etc
Falling on level surfaces etc Falling on stairs etcFalling between levels
Electrical hazardsFireFlames, hot surfaces etc
Collision and EntrapmentExplosionsPosition 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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