Reasons for the rise in housing disrepair cases

Housing disrepair claims are on the rise. In the face of rising costs of living and overwhelmed social housing landlords, rented homes are falling behind in repairs.

The last four years have seen disrepair claims against social landlords rise by over 132%. Council housing authorities and housing associations have seen an accompanying 17,000 claims in a five year period, totalling £55.1 million in housing disrepair compensation1. Failure to respond to repair requests combined with backlogs due to the Covid-19 have forced many social housing tenants to seek housing disrepair solicitors to help them with their plight.

Housing disrepair is a huge problem in the UK

Figures suggest that local council authorities paid out a total of £7.8 million in 2017 compared to £14.3 million in 2020-21. Not only have the costs of housing disrepair claims doubled since 2017, but it is also our biggest cities which are most affected. Furthermore, these figures are only a portion of the real amount because over 100 council authorities in England do not release statistical data. Of 12/29 boroughs, £39 million in housing disrepair claims was paid out last year. The figures increased up to 53% in a single year between 2020 and 20212.

What makes housing disrepair such a crisis among local authorities?

Several factors are to blame for this sharp rise in housing disrepair claims. Here are some of the key factors which contribute to the problem.

Tenants are neglected

Social landlords fail to take reasonable action to make the repairs when the tenant reports them. This neglect is the result of a combination of errors:

  • Faulty records and reporting systems
  • Inaction of staff members
  • Delays due to the Covid-19
  • Lack of response
  • Poor communication between housing departments

The BBC frequently reports on cases of black mould found in social housing accommodation, on housing authorities failing to make repairs, and of disrepair faults which negatively impact the health of the tenants who live there.

Lack of funding

A major reason why social housing in the UK falls into disrepair is that local authorities simply don’t have the funds to make anything other than emergency repairs. The UK government contradicts this by setting out the regulations for social housing in the Decent Home Standard. Since social landlords don’t have the funds to upkeep the homes, the homes fall below the standard. This is especially true of the social housing erected in the fifties and sixties, which is now in serious disrepair.

How can the social housing disrepair crisis be solved?

Local authorities must produce an actionable plan to spare themselves the ongoing costs of housing disrepair claims. Some authorities are already developing strategic guidance to target disrepair, and the UK gov rolled out the Fitness for Human Habitation act back in 2018 which defines the legal obligations social housing landlords have to tenants.

The more people who come forward to complain, the bigger the problem they have and the quicker they will act to solve it.

How much could you earn in compensation for a disrepair claim?

The sum you win through compensation claims filed for housing disrepair will reflect the severity of the situation. If you think you have a claim for housing disrepair, contact us today. We are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and work on a conditional fee basis. Contact SilverOak Solicitors today for more information on how to file a claim against your landlord for housing disrepair.

1,2 Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, 2022: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/english-housing-survey-2021-to-2022-headline-report

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