Arun Associates Blog

The Ultimate Guide for Landlords for Housing Disrepair Matters

Are you a landlord looking for guidance on how to handle housing disrepair matters?

Are you afraid that your career may be at stake because of a tenant making false claims against you?

We’ve got you covered!

According to Public Law Today, a 2017 BBC research revealed that the number of housing disrepair claims brought by tenants in England increased by 44% in the past 5 years.

While it’s true that housing repair cases are on the rise in the UK, it’s noteworthy that some of them are fraudulent. Some tenants may take advantage of the law and abuse their power to get unwarranted compensation.

Let’s face it, a tenant who is qualified for legal aid won’t only have their costs covered but they’ll also make you pay if you lose. On the other hand, even if you win, you won’t be able to recover your costs.

Sounds unfair, right?

Well, it is the way it is.

This is why it’s so important for you to know exactly how to handle housing disrepair matters and hire a professional surveyor for property inspection.

Top 3 Crucial Scenarios for Landlords

The following are three important scenarios for you as a landlord:

  • A tenant being unreasonable regarding what to expect in terms of the degree of repair to the residential property
  • A tenant makes or is willing to make a fraudulent claim against the landlord to obtain financial compensation
  • You have to act reasonably and professionally deal with circumstances where the tenant comes forward with a valid disrepair complaint

Needless to say that the second scenario is the worst! So, when a tenant makes a false claim against you, you should know how to fight back.

How to Handle Housing Disrepair Matters

The best way to start is by ensuring your property doesn’t have any disrepair. The most common causes of complaints include dampness, mould, condensation, and discolouration of decorations. So, you better take care of these!

You should also consider going an extra mile by safely documenting a property inspection and maintenance process. Keep a clear paper trail of how you identify and solve any disrepair issue immediately.

You must know that when a tenant takes you to the court for a housing repair, the court determines the compensation amount by taking into account the duration the disrepair has been present. Hence, proper documentation of inspections will surely come in handy!

Secondly, you must know what the law holds landlords accountable for. Here are some key pointers:

  • Know, understand, and comply with the clauses of the tenancy agreement.
  • Adhere to the terms implied in section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 i.e. make sure the basic structure and exterior of the residential property are kept under repair.
  • Act in accordance with the duty of care presented in section 4 of the Defective Premises Act 1972. Thus, you should be willing to take responsibility for any defects resulting in damage to the tenant’s property or personal injury.
  • Follow the obligations of the Deregulation Act 2015, including the provision of Gas Safety and Certificates and Energy Saving Certificates.
  • Make sure the property is suitable for use as per the New Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2019.

Important Things to Take Notes of

  • If a tenant wants to make a disrepair complaint, they’ll have to present it in writing form unless the issue involves high risk or is urgent.
  • Landlords get a ‘notice’ of 14 days to respond to the complaint. If they fail to do so, the tenant may proceed to make a ‘claim’.
  • The claim or allegation letter should comply with the Housing Disrepair Pre-action Protocol that falls under the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 along with updated guidelines for housing disrepair that came out in 2017.
  • As per the protocol, landlords get a deadline of 20 working days to respond to the letter. However, it’s best to respond as soon as you possibly can.
  • In case you receive any notice from the local authority regarding inspection or improvement as per the Housing Act 2004, you may take it as a ‘notice’ of disrepair which might lead to a ‘claim’ made by the tenant against you.
  • If you fail to get the repairs done within the timeframe mentioned in the improvement notice, the council may jump in and complete the repair themselves before asking you for compensation.
  • If you want to save yourself some time, efforts, and distress, you’d want to deal with the problem on your own before the council gets involved.
  • Please note that a disrepair notice from the tenant or local authority may come in the way of your ability to serve a valid notice under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.

Get Organized

The key to strengthening your position as a landlord at any stage where you suspect a risk of a housing disrepair claim is to place all notes, papers, and records in order. This includes but isn’t limited to the documents of the contract and evidence of any correspondence, including surveys, reports, and emails between you and the tenant.

Hire an Impartial Property Consultant

The best way to make housing disrepair matters go smoothly is by hiring a professional surveyor who can inspect the property to produce an expert report. That being said, it’s imperative that you choose an expert for the job because the content of the said report will reveal to the court the extent of the disrepair.

Arun Associates offers the services of chartered surveyors who have handled several cases impartially, producing professional technical reports in no time!

Not all parties may agree with all the contents of the report but it’ll push the case forward. In cases where the tenant wishes to take the case further, say via litigation or mediation, then they may submit the report to the court as a piece of evidence.

As a landlord, you should be willing to accept the fact that in some cases, the report may support the tenant’s complaint and request you to make repairs.

That being said, in some cases, both the parties may be at fault.

Benefits of Hiring a Professional Surveyor

The following are some of the benefits of hiring a professional surveyor for housing disrepair matters.

1. Serves as a Neutral Body

The whole point of hiring a surveyor is to let an expert handle the matter. They’ll present what’s right and fair in the inspection report.

2. Produces a Professional Inspection Report

An expert surveyor inspects the property and based on their observation and critical analysis, they come up with a professional report. The report doesn’t only contain technical content but is also rich in visuals.

Diagrams, sketches, and photos highlighting the problem make it easier to understand the content better.

3. Makes Things Clear

Although the inspection report tends to contain jargons that may be difficult to understand, the surveyor will explain the reasons in layman terms to both the tenant and the landlord.

4. Has Technical Knowledge

Most tenants and landlords don’t fully understand the physics of condensation and dampness that results in the growth of mould.

A skilled surveyor will tap into the technical details of these issues to put the problem of disrepair in context. This will help both the parties and the court to gain an in-depth understanding of the issue.

In a nutshell, an experienced surveyor with a good track record of handling a wide range of technical problems may help you deal with housing disrepair repairs like a pro. This will also save you from the worry of a tenant making false disrepair claims against you. A technical report was written by a professional and impartial property surveyor also holds great importance in the court.

With an expert surveyor from Arun Associates handling your housing disrepair matters, the chances of a tenant getting away with making a false disrepair claim against you drop down significantly.

So, what are you waiting for?

Get in touch with us TODAY to stay on top of possible housing disrepair matters right from the beginning and maximize your chances of winning against a false disrepair allegation!