Tenants who live in social housing can take legal action against their landlord if they have reported a housing disrepair but nothing has been done to fix it. This type of legal action is known as a housing disrepair claim. It allows to you recover compensation for the damages you have suffered, including physical injuries, damaged possessions and the inconvenience caused.

Get a free claim assessment

If you rent a property owned by a local council or housing association and you think you have grounds for a housing disrepair claim, contact us now at Ashmans. We offer everyone a free assessment of their claim.

Our housing disrepair solicitors act on a no win, no fee basis, so you don’t need to worry about our legal fees.

Does a housing association have a duty of care?

Yes. All landlords in England and Wales have a duty of care towards their tenants. This includes social housing landlords, be it housing associations, local councils or other types of registered social landlord (RSL).

But what does a duty of care actually mean?

It means the landlord must take reasonable steps to protect the health and safety of their tenants. There are lots of different ‘reasonable steps’ a landlord can take to achieve this duty of care, one of which is to meet their repair responsibilities.

What are a landlord’s repair responsibilities?

Landlords in England and Wales are responsible for most repairs in a rental property, unless you are directly to blame for the problem.

Specifically, a landlord is responsible for fixing:

  • The property’s structure and exterior
  • Basins, sinks, baths, pipes, drains, toilets and other sanitary fittings
  • Boilers, radiators and other supplies of heating/hot water
  • Gas appliance, pipes, flues and ventilation
  • Electrical wiring
  • Any damage they cause by attempting repairs

Find out more: What Are My Landlord’s Responsibilities?

It does not matter who your landlord is: repair responsibilities apply to all landlords, including social housing landlords.

What should I do if my rental property needs repairing?

If you live in social housing and something is broken, or you are living with a damp/mould problem, you need to tell your landlord about it. Your landlord cannot be expected to fix the issue if they do not know about it.

Contact your landlord and specify what the problem is. Keep a record of all communication you have with your landlord. It can be useful to take photos or videos, if this helps to show what the problem is.

You must then give your landlord a reasonable amount of time to repair the issue. A reasonable amount of time would be:

  • 24 hours for an emergency repair, like a burst water pipe or loss of water supply
  • 7 days for an urgent repair, like a blocked pipe or small leak
  • 28 days for a non-urgent repair, like a broken window or mould

You must allow your landlord access to the property for the repair to be carried out.

When to get legal advice

If your social housing landlord carries out a repair within a reasonable amount of time, and this repair is to a satisfactory standard, then that is the end of the matter.

However, what if your landlord fails to fix the problem? Maybe they attempt to do something, but the repair is substandard? Or maybe they don’t do anything at all? In either situation, it is time to contact our housing disrepair solicitors for advice.

We offer everyone a free initial assessment. This means you can find out if you are eligible to pursue a claim against your social housing landlord, and you don’t have to pay for this advice.

For a free claim assessment, call us on 0333 009 6275. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You can also email us on enquiries@ashmanssolicitors.com or complete our Free Online Enquiry Form and we’ll be in touch soon.

Taking legal action against your social housing landlord

If we say that you have grounds to make a housing disrepair claim, you need to decide whether or not you want to go down this route. We understand that you might have some concerns, particularly with regard to how much it might cost you. We can explain all this in greater detail before you make a decision. Our housing disrepair solicitors typically work on a no win, no fee basis. We are also members of the Legal Aid scheme.

If you want to proceed, our first step is to make sure we follow the pre-action protocol. This involves notifying your landlord that you intend to take court action against them. We will then negotiate with your landlord in an attempt to resolve the matter outside of court. Our solicitors will want confirmation from your landlord that the problem will be fixed. We will also get you compensation for the damages you have experienced.

If negotiations are not successful, we will issue formal court proceedings. Our solicitors will prepare your case and present it to the court. The court can then order:

  • Your landlord to repair the problem; and
  • The payment of compensation to reflect your damages

How much compensation are housing association disrepair claims worth?

It is impossible to say exactly how much compensation you will receive for a housing disrepair claim. Every case is different. What we can tell you is that compensation is awarded for different things, such as:

Related: How Much Is My Housing Disrepair Claim Worth?

Getting evidence to support your case

It helps to keep as much evidence as possible. This can be used to support your case. Start collecting evidence as soon as the disrepair arises. Do things like:

  • Take regular photos and videos of the problem
  • Take photos and videos of the damage that has been caused to your belongings or to your person (i.e., your physical injuries, if you have any)

Also, keep a record of all the correspondence between you and your landlord. This includes emails, text messages, WhatsApp messages and phone calls.

If you have spent or lost any money because of the disrepair, write all the numbers down and keep the receipts where possible.

Should I just go to the Ombudsman or ask the council for help?

Social housing tenants can try to resolve a housing disrepair issue in various different ways, some of which avoid going to court. It really depends on what the problem is.

If the repair is very minor – meaning it costs £250 or less – you can go through the right to repair scheme if you are a local council tenant. This is a good way to get small repair jobs done.

You can also make a formal complaint to your landlord. You then have to wait for your landlord to respond. If you are not happy with the response, you can progress the complaint to your local council/MP, or the Housing Ombudsman. However, both have limitations. These authorities can only mediate in an attempt to help you resolve the dispute. Decisions are not legally binding and cannot be enforced, as they can by the courts.

Private tenants may also seek help from environmental health, which is a department within the council. However, this is rarely an option for social housing tenants as the council cannot take enforcement action against itself.

If we think there is a better way to resolve your housing disrepair that does not involve legal action, we will be sure to tell you.

Free claim assessment

For a free claim assessment, call us on 0333 009 6275. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You can also email us on enquiries@ashmanssolicitors.com or complete our Free Online Enquiry Form and we’ll be in touch soon.