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Housing Disrepair: A Home with Cold Draughts – Case Study Six.

by Jane Willacey

We were instructed at the start of May 2021 by Mrs W from Cirencester who had been experiencing ongoing disrepair within her council house since July 2018. We took her case on under a ’No Win No Fee’ agreement.

Our client moved into her two-bed council property in July 2018, at the time our client noticed that the kitchen units were damaged with large chunks missing from the worktops, loose hinges and ill-fitting doors and drawers. Our client contacted the council who sent a contractor to inspect her kitchen, they informed our client that a new kitchen would be fitted by March 2019 therefore our client accepted this and didn’t report this issue further until April 2019 when no news of a new kitchen was forthcoming.

In the winter of 2018 our client noticed that the windows throughout her property were very draughty, the seals had blown and the handles and locks were rusty which caused the property to become very cold and damp. Our client informed the council who sent a contractor to the property. The contractor lubricated the locks and informed our client that all the windows needed replacing and that he would notify the council however our client received no contact from the council and no reply to her weekly emails chasing replacements.

In November 2019 our client reported crumbling plaster work, exposed brick work and damp on the walls of her second bedroom plus mould and damp in the kitchen, main bathroom and downstairs w/c. Our client reported this to the council along with the numerous reports regarding the windows and kitchen disrepair but she received neither an acknowledgement nor a reply.

We sent a detailed letter of claim to the council setting out that they were in breach of express and implied terms of tenancy and/or breach of their statutory and common law duties by not adhering to the clauses outlined in the tenancy regarding the council’s responsibility for the maintenance and repairs of the building.

The councils’ solicitors acknowledged our letter of claim and a joint inspection between both parties nominated expert surveyors was arranged. The surveyors reported that some of the main issues were but not limited to:  

  • Low level damp and mould found in various areas throughout the property which had caused damage to ceilings, plaster work, floors and walls.
  • Blown window seals and window fittings which were in a state of disrepair causing cold air and damp to leach into the property.
  • The kitchen cupboards were saturated with damp which had caused the units to swell.
  • Higher than average damp meter readings in the kitchen, downstairs w/c and at the rear of the property.
  • Defective rendering and guttering which were both contributing to the damp.
  • A small area of penetrative rising damp to the rear of the property.

As both surveyors agreed on the level of disrepair we made a part 36 offer to the other party to settle without the need to issue court proceedings, our first offer was rejected however the other party accepted a subsequent offer of £2000.00 in damages with repairs to be completed within 70 days plus all our clients legal costs to be recovered from the other side.

Although this claim was small in comparison to most of our housing disrepair cases our client had up until the point of instruction lived with damp and draughty windows which had caused her much distress and frustration and whilst getting her home back to a livable state was the priority, the compensation that our client received came a close second.

For more information on how compensation is generally calculated, read our article on this subject: