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| 1 minute read

Proactively managing disrepair claims

This was the title of the panel session I spoke at during the HOMES UK 22 conference last week. My main point was for landlords to focus on always ensuring repair works are done as soon as possible. 

If, as we often find, the tenant's solicitors insist on access only being arranged through them or refuse access for any works until experts have been in etc, remind them of the pre-action protocol and look at being robust with access injunctions, despite their limitations and extra costs. Injunctions do of course require clear evidence to be pulled out of landlord and contractor systems about access refusals which is why good record-keeping is so vital.  

My fellow and previous session speakers highlighted the problems arising from the well-known construction skills shortages in the housing sector at every level; data being good enough; Boards being well informed and the challenge of funding the investment needed to tackle mould and damp during a rent cap. There were also some excellent suggestions made such as making every visit count by training all staff who enter a customer's home to check for damp and mould regardless of the reason they are visiting. 

I also mentioned the fixed recoverable costs regime changes that were due to be implemented in April 2023 but are now (announced on 18 November) delayed until November 2023. This change will fix or cap costs on claims for damages worth up to £100k and may make the funding model for the tenant law firms less attractive. Court rules are being re-written and housing providers' input being considered carefully the Civil Justice Council were told. However whether 'mixed claims' for money combined with claims for specific performance (for works to be carried out) will be covered remains a grey area. 

However, she added that there are some cases where tenants are going straight to lawyers rather than first using the landlord’s complaints procedure.  Ms Tucker said that the costs of claims are often “hugely disproportionate” to the damages awarded to tenants.  “You might agree damages of £1,500, and a couple of weeks later we will often get a bill from their solicitors with costs of between £12,000 [and] £60,000,” she explained.  She advised social landlords to improve record-keeping with decent systems, as well as improve repairs and planned maintenance.  She also suggested trying access injunctions when a tenant has been advised not to let landlords in after the legal process has started.


housing, disrepair, dampandmould