Do you have a leaking roof? Dampness? No heating and hot water? Defective radiators? Plumbing leaks? Mice Infestation? Other disrepair?
Are you a council tenant? The tenant of a social landlord? A leaseholder?
Hockfield & Co. Solicitors represents tenants and leaseholders in Kennington and throughout London who need to take legal action against their landlord to ensure they comply with their repairing obligations.
What are my rights?
If you are a tenant, it is likely that your tenancy agreement will explain what repairs your landlord is responsible for.
Even where you do not have a written tenancy or your agreement is silent on this, important obligations are implied by law, making the landlord normally liable for the structure and exterior of your home and for keeping the installations for gas, electricity and water in good repair.
If you are a leaseholder, the terms of the lease will set out who is responsible for what, with the freeholder usually responsible for repairing the structure, exterior and any communal plumbing or other services.
Can I claim compensation as well as requiring the Landlord to do the work?
Yes, you can claim compensation for the consequences of the disrepair, often termed distress and inconvenience or loss of amenity. The amount is normally calculated as a percentage of your rent over the period that you suffered as a result of the disrepair.
The compensation will vary from case to case. In the event of very severe disrepair affecting all or most of the rooms in your home, this could be computed anywhere in the region of 40-80% of the rent payable for the relevant period of time. In the case of moderately serious disrepair affecting say one or two rooms, the figure may be more like 20-30%.
You can also claim recompense for belongings which have been damaged by the disrepair and/or for additional expenditure you have incurred because of the disrepair, such as additional electricity or heating charges.
What is involved in bringing a disrepair claim?
We will arrange an initial meeting with you. This will normally take place at our office. On occasions we will arrange to visit you in your home so we can view the disrepair, better understand it and take photographs.
The first step we would take is to send a detailed letter to the landlord setting details of the disrepair in your home and asking the landlord to reply within 20 working days with details of what works it intends to carry out to deal with the disrepair. We will also ask the Landlord to provide copies of repair records and other relevant documents within that timescale and may at this stage invite the landlord to agree to jointly instruct an independent expert to inspect your home, as well as to provide its proposals for compensation.
This first ‘letter of claim’ is a requirement under the Pre-Action Housing Disrepair Protocol but if the situation is very urgent the 20 working day time limit can be shortened.
Our aim is to get the works done in your home as soon as possible so you can start to enjoy living there again and then to agree with your Landlord compensation for the distress and inconvenience you have suffered.
It is often possible to agree these matters without the need to take legal proceedings.
If the landlord does not respond with action and legal proceedings are needed, we can expertly guide you through these, dealing with disclosure of documents and preparing detailed witness statements for you and any other people who can give evidence about the disrepair. It can take 4-6 months to prepare a case for court but in most cases it is possible to reach a settlement with the landlord before trial.
How are the cases funded?
We normally undertake suitable cases under Conditional Fee (‘No win, no fee’) agreements. This means that you pay nothing for our costs unless you win, but we will ask you to meet expenses (such as a surveyor’s report and Court fees) that we incur on your behalf. In appropriate cases we can agree their payment at a rate affordable to you.
Our team of housing solicitors is very experienced with these cases and also has a good understanding of the technical issues as well as the law. For more information, please contact one of our solicitors today for a consultation.