At Osbornes Law we know how to win disrepair cases for those we represent. We understand how frustrating it can be living with disrepair and poor housing conditions, and the impact it has can have on your daily life.
In most tenancies repairing obligations are implied into the terms of the tenancy. The repairing obligations require a landlord to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling house and keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling house for the supply of water, gas, electricity, sanitation, space heating, and heating water.
It is not possible for a landlord to contract out of their repairing obligations.
If you own a leasehold property the freeholder’s repairing obligations will be contained in the terms of your lease.
Depending upon the cause of the problems in your home we may be able to bring a claim in the County Court seeking an order for repairs to be complete, as well as seeking financial compensation. Alternatively, in some situations proceedings can be brought in the Magistrates Court in relation to the conditions in your home.
Our team of specialist housing solicitors is one of the largest in London, ranked in both Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners legal directories
What do I need to do?
- If there are problems with the conditions in your home you must bring this to the attention of your landlord by providing notice.
- You should always aim to do this in writing where possible so that you have a written record of notice having been provided.
- You should keep clear records of what the problems at your property are, when they arose, and when you notified you landlord of them.
- If the problem is not resolved promptly it is also likely to be worth contacting your local authority (if they are not also your landlord). The Council has powers to serve various notices in relation to conditions in your home.
- You should always provide access to your landlord to inspect the property and to carry out repairs. A failure to provide access will be a defence to any disrepair claim.
Frequently asked questions
What sort of funding is available?
The following types of funding are available in disrepair cases:
- Conditional Fee Agreements (“CFAs”) also known as “no win no fee” agreements – We retain discretion over whether to act under a CFA and we cannot guarantee that this form of funding will be available in all cases. A decision upon whether to act under a CFA will be taken following a risk assessment to ensure that the particular case is suitable for this type of funding.
If you win your case, you may have to pay a ’success fee’ and any insurance premium out of your compensation. You will also be liable to pay the costs incurred in the case, but Osbornes Law will seek to recover these costs from your opponent, as the winning party is normally awarded their legal costs against the losing party.
If your case is lost, Osbornes Law will not be paid for the work we have done on your case. You may be able to obtain what is known as ‘after the event’ insurance to cover the risk of you having to pay your opponent’s costs in the event that you lose your case.
- Legal Aid – Legal Aid is available for disrepair cases subject to an assessment of the individual’s financial circumstances. If you contact us and provide us with figures of your income and expenses, we will be able to do an initial assessment to let you know whether or not you are likely to qualify for Legal Aid. However, legal aid funding only covers bringing a claim to ensure repairs are carried out to your home, and does not cover a claim for compensation. If you also wish to pursue a compensation claim this would need to be funded separately.
- Private funding – we will be able to advise you about our private rates and outline the work we will carry out if you decide to instruct us on this basis..
What is penetrating damp?
Damp occurs when the disrepair in the structure of the building allows water to enter the building from the outside. Penetrating damp is usually caused by structural problems in the building such as faulty guttering or roofing which your landlord/freeholder is usually responsible for maintaining.
Are there things you cannot bring a disrepair claim for?
You can only bring a disrepair claim for damage to your home where that damage has been caused by disrepair. If the problem arises from an inherent defect in the property which is not caused by disrepair, then this is not something for which you can bring a disrepair claim. However, you may be able to bring a claim under The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, which is discussed below, or under environmental health legislation.
What is condensation based damp?
This is where the dampness in your home is not caused by water penetrating from outside but arises due to the conditions in your home. This may be due to a lack of ventilation or poor design. Condensation dampness does not occur due to disrepair, and would not form part of a claim for disrepair. However, it may be possible to bring a claim under The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, which is discussed below, or under environmental health legislation.
What is the meaning of the term ‘fitness for habitation’?
The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 came into force on 20 March 2019. The Act applies to new tenancies, of less than 7 years, granted on or after 20 March 2019 (but will apply to all such tenancies after 20 March 2020). The Act requires that a property that is rented is:
(a) Fit for human habitation at the time the lease is granted or otherwise created or, if later, at the beginning of the term of the lease, and
(b) Will remain fit for human habitation during the term of the lease.
In considering whether or not a home is unfit for human habitation, the following will be considered:
- freedom from damp,
- internal arrangement,
- natural lighting,
- water supply,
- drainage and sanitary conveniences,
- facilities for preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water;
- in relation to a dwelling in England, any prescribed hazard;
A house will be considered to be unfit for human habitation if one of more of the above apply and it is not reasonable for someone to occupy the house in the condition that it is in.
- The tenant of a flat within a high rise had directly approached her landlord in relation to defective heating, hot water and plastering. When negotiations failed she approached the Local Government Ombudsman who found in her favour in relation to many items of disrepair. However, when her landlord refused to comply with the recommendations Osbornes was instructed to deal with this matter. We assisted the client under a Conditional Fee Agreement. As a result of Osbornes’ intervention a schedule of works was agreed to the satisfaction of our client and she received damages of £10,000 plus legal costs.
- We assisted a leaseholder in relation to enforcement proceedings due to a failure to comply with a court order requiring remedial works. As a result a settlement was agreed between the parties whereby over £33,000 was offset against his service charge account and his legal costs were paid.
- We assisted a local authority tenant to avoid eviction from her property by bringing a counter claim for disrepair. The disrepair damages were worth over £16,000 and the client kept her home.
- The leaseholder of a flat had problems with significant water penetration and defective windows. The landlord refused to carry out the repairs. Court proceedings were issued and as a result the landlord agreed to carry out repair works, pay the client £7,500 in damages (to be offset against her share of the cost of the major works), and paid our client’s legal costs. The matter returned to Court for enforcement purposes as the landlord had failed to complete the works and the outcome was that the landlord agreed to a schedule of works, paid a further £12,500, plus legal costs.
What our clients say
“I found it all very professional and friendly at Osbornes. I am extremely happy with the outcome; my solicitor took away the stress of my case. I received a significant damages settlement from my Landlord (£28,500), which has really helped me in my new home. I would definitely recommend Osbornes in the future”.