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Housing Solicitors

Tenants Ask: What is Disrepair? (23 October 2018)

Date: 23/10/2018
Duncan Lewis, Housing Solicitors, Tenants Ask: What is Disrepair?

With more and more people renting properties than ever, it is no surprise that information can be miscommunicated, leaving many tenants confused about what rights they may or may not have.

One of the most common areas of ambiguity is that of housing disrepair, whereby the conditions of the property and/or its utilities do not meet the required standards, often leaving tenants living in unsafe and unhealthy conditions.

What causes disrepair?

Who is responsible for it?

What legal action can be taken?


With so many questions surrounding the issue it can be a daunting problem to tackle, but nobody should have to live in a property in a state of disrepair and under the guidance of our expert housing lawyers at Duncan Lewis, you won’t have to.

So just what is housing disrepair? There’s no single answer to this question, housing disrepair is essentially a blanket term used to describe a whole host of issues, some examples include;

  • Blocked drains or gutters

  • Broken or faulty boilers

  • Collapsed ceilings

  • Damp and/or mould

  • Roof problems

At first glance many problems classed as disrepair may seem trivial or a minor inconvenience but, if left unattended can lead to much bigger problems and complications. It is not uncommon for disrepair to lead to damage to your property, your health, and to your finances, in addition to being a major nuisance.

Take a crack in a window for example, if left unfixed, this seemingly minor problem can lead to rainwater entering your property which can, in turn, lead to damp, damp can cause mould which not only smells horrible and can ruin your clothes and furniture but it can also lead to health problems such as asthma, allergies and chest infections – it’s easy to see how quickly things can escalate!

Perhaps the most important question is who is responsible?

Both tenants and landlords have a duty of care towards the property. Tenants are responsible for keeping the property in a ‘tenant-like’ way. This means maintaining the day-to-day upkeep of the property, keeping it clean, ensuring any visitors do not damage anything and dealing with minor maintenance like changing lightbulbs and fuses.

Landlords on the other hand, have a far greater responsibility for keeping the property fit for purpose. Landlords are responsible for maintaining;

  • The structure and exterior of the property – this includes walls, foundations, the roof, drains, pipes, windows and doors

  • Plumbing – such as sinks, toilets and baths

  • Utilities – water and gas, electrical wiring, boilers, radiators, heating and gas

Landlords must also ensure that the safety of their tenants is never compromised; fitting fire and carbon monoxide alarms is a legal requirement.
Of course, many landlords do not frequently visit the properties they rent out and problems can easily be missed, therefore it is the tenant’s obligation to inform their landlords of the issue.

When alerted to a problem, a landlord should carry out a competent repair as soon as is reasonably possible. Failure to do this is what normally causes the larger complications, compromising the tenant’s safety and health.

If a landlord acts accordingly and swiftly carries out the repair to a satisfactory standard then it should be a case of problem solved. However, if a landlord fails to rectify the problem(s) legal action can be taken and a tenant could claim compensation for the damage this breach of duty has caused.

The most effective action to take is to get in touch with a specialist housing solicitor. At Duncan Lewis, we have an entire housing department that handles cases of disrepair on a regular basis across England and Wales.

Solicitors can advise you on what action to take and how much – if any – compensation you may be entitled to. At Duncan Lewis, we have developed an online disrepair calculator that can estimate how much money you could receive based on your circumstances; this will give you an idea of the scale of your case and the compensation you may be entitled to.

Luckily for tenants, Duncan Lewis’ housing solicitors are highly experienced in dealing with disrepair matters. Dianne Cowie, director of housing at our Croydon branch, has a unique specialism in housing disrepair matters, helping tenants and leaseholders ensure repairs are carried out to their properties and when possible obtaining compensation for clients affected by disrepair.

Dianne says;

“Too many tenants live in conditions that are substandard and in a state of disrepair, it is imperative as a first step, that notice of the issue(s) is provided to the landlord, if nothing is done to resolve these, then seek some advice.”

Living in disrepair is an ordeal no matter how big or small the problem, our housing lawyers are well-equipped to assist and advice on all housing issues and have the expertise required to tackle any disrepair matter that comes their way.

Dianne specialises in tenant and landlord matters including; disrepair, possession proceedings, tenancy disputes, injunctions, committal proceedings, homelessness appeals and judicial reviews. Dianne has been recognised as an “excellent litigator”. Dianne’s niche specialism is in housing disrepair matters; she is also experienced in possession cases, handling matters including rent arrears, breaches of tenancies and vulnerable clients whom have had allegations of anti-social behaviour.

For expert housing advice, contact Dianne Cowie on 020 7014 7339 or email her at diannec@duncanlewis.com.


Duncan Lewis Housing Solicitors

Duncan Lewis Housing Solicitors may be able to help. Duncan Lewis Housing Solicitors can guide clients in any matter or issues arising with local housing authorities, housing applications, tenants, landlords, ownership and repairs. The Duncan Lewis housing team specialises in representation in all social housing proceedings including reviews, appeals and judicial review relating to homelessness, disrepair, succession for tenants and neighbourhood disputes against local authorities.

If you have any housing related queries or require representation please do not hesitate to contact our team of expert solicitors on 0333 772 0409.


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