Whilst Housing Disrepair is now a prominent issue, what is still unclear is how a court deals with such cases and what awards of compensation are likely to be made.
The cases listed below have already gone through the litigation process and they show how courts view such matters. You may find some of these cases resonate with your own situation.
When a court makes a judgement it becomes known as ‘Common Law’. This not only sets a precedent, it can also be used as a persuasive tool in order to negotiate a settlement.
Armes v Wheel Property Co Ltd, 17 May 2013
The claimant had been the tenant of a two bed flat in a Victorian terrace conversion for 30 years. The rent was £191 per week. There was damp present in walls and floors in the living room, kitchen, bathroom and one of the bedrooms for many years. This had caused some of the plaster to ‘blow’. The housing file recorded a number of leaks into the property from various sources and the tenant said that she had notified her landlord about these. Once a claim was started, the parties’ experts agreed that the property suffered from disrepair caused by penetrating/rising dampness and agreed a schedule of remedial works.
The matter went to trial when the landlord suggested that the claimant had not informed them of the disrepair. The court found in favour of the claimant.
This resulted in the judge awarding £18,161 in damages to the claimant and ordered that the landlord must undertake suitable repairs.
Nzau v Gani 21 November 2013
Private tenancy commencing in late 2006 with a monthly rent payment of £1,150. The claimant was evicted in August 2012. The claimant alleged damp and water penetration to the kitchen and bathroom (partly situated under a balcony) from the start of the tenancy. There were also historic issues with a defective boiler, and other more minor issues.
In February 2011 the Council had served an abatement notice (s.80 EPA 1990) setting a requirement that the water penetration be addressed.
At trial, the judge found the landlord liable for the water penetration into the kitchen and bathroom as well as the heating defects that had taken place from January 2007. It was decided that this time period allowed a reasonable period to remedy.
Damages for the water penetration were discounted by 50% because there was no conclusive evidence from either side about whether the damp at the property was a mixture of condensation damp and penetration damp. The total damages awarded to the claimant were £10,903.
Clark v Affinity Sutton Homes Ltd, 28 March 2014
Claimant was the tenant of a one bedroom flat from November 2004 until February 2014. The tenant brought a claim alleging damp penetration from January 2007. The landlord had carried out remedial works in 2008 and again in January 2013, but had not resolved the issue.
The expert evidence found water penetration to the bathroom with condensation dampness and mould growth to the living room, bedroom and kitchen. However, following the end of the claimant’s tenancy (and shortly before trial) it was found that the damp problems had been caused by a defective damp proof course.
The claimant suffered from poor health. He had suffered with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease since 2006, rheumatoid arthritis since 2007 and also had bladder cancer. A default judgement was obtained against the landlord on 14 October 2013. The judge awarded damages totalling £11,200.46.
Wade v Dormeuil 8 August 2014
Private tenant of a two-bedroom flat, from October 2010 until October 2013 where the rent was £1,500 per month. The landlord brought possession proceedings and the tenant counter claimed in respect of disrepair. The tenant sought damages for a defective roof/gutters causing water penetration to the rear bedroom and hallway, with some intermittent penetration to the main bedroom and some current dampness to the living room. There was also a defective flush to the toilet, two gas leaks resulting in the lack of hot water for five days, a slow water flow into the water tank, defective and cracked plaster, defective windows to the living room and a defective radiator. In addition, there was external defects including gutters, cracks to the render and rot to the joinery.
The defence to the counterclaim was struck out and the case proceeded solely on the basis of the tenant’s evidence. The judge found all the claims made out and awarded damages totalling £24,203.
Whittingdon v Uddin 14 August 2014
The Private tenant who claimed for three years of disrepair, in addition to breach of quiet enjoyment and harassment. For a period of three years the premises suffered from defective windows throughout, water penetration in the bedroom, some internal leaks in the kitchen and toilet, and also some external disrepair. The landlord failed to carry out any repairs despite repeated complaints.
At trial, the Judge awarded £10, 650 in relation to the disrepair of the property.
Holmes v Lambeth LBC, Lambeth County Court
Tenant of a two-bedroom maisonette complained of disrepair from 2008. There had been a number of external defects including an excessive gap between the brickwork and window frame to one of the bathroom windows and fungal decay to two other windows. There was also spalled brickwork over the main structure at the front of the premises, missing and defective pointing and plaster work to the chimney stack, missing slates to the roof and cracked areas of concrete to the rear concrete staircase. For a period of three years there was water penetration through the roof causing cosmetic damage to the plaster in the eaves storage area and relatively minor staining to the plaster and decorations in the stairs.
The defects mainly affected the exterior of the premises and therefore the inconvenience caused to the leaseholder was minimal. The cost of repairs was estimated to be £9,000. The local authority made an offer in the sum of £15,000 and also agreed not to seek to recover the leaseholder’s share of service charges in respect of the works (these would have been approximately 50% of the £9,000).