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Housing Disrepair: Damaged Guttering and Mould Growth – Case Study Seven

by Jane Willacey

We were instructed at the end of April 2021 by Mrs E from East London who had been experiencing ongoing disrepair within her leasehold flat since December 2018. We took her case on under a ’No Win No Fee’ agreement.

At the end of 2018 our client noticed that the bathroom walls were constantly wet and a large damp patch had started to appear on her bedroom ceiling. Our client inspected the guttering from the ground floor level and could clearly see that the gutters were damaged and visibly blocked with moss and dirt, this was reported to the council who owned the freehold of the building, however our client had no response to her repeated calls and emails.

In March 2021 without giving our client any prior notification the council erected scaffolding at the front of the building however no repairs to the gutters and drainage pipes took place and the damp within her property continued which quickly led to black mould on the bathroom walls and bedroom ceiling.

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 leasehold tenancy regarding the council’s responsibility for the maintenance and repairs of the building and we instructed an expert surveyor to assess the disrepair.

Our nominated surveyor reported that some of the main issues were but not limited to severely blocked and damaged guttering and drainage pipes plus an Ingress of rainwater from a defective verge to gable wall.

Some weeks later we received an acknowledgement of the letter of claim from the councils’ solicitors, however they denied that the council were responsible for the maintenance of the building as they claimed that the freehold had been sub let. However, no information detailing this ‘sub let’ was forth coming and all evidence pointed toward the council both owning and being responsible for the freehold. We gathered all evidence including contacting The Land Registry who provided us with the supporting documents which out lined the council’s ownership and responsibility for the freehold.

We sent all evidence and proof of the freehold ownership to the councils’ solicitors who subsequently ignored all of our emails and paper correspondence. After giving them sufficient time to respond to our letter of claim we issued court proceedings.

As the hearing date drew closer we were notified that the council had instructed a new solicitor who contacted us and conceded that the council did hold responsibility for the freehold. They put forth a part 36 offer to settle out of court. Our client lived in a high rent area and the offer they made was substantially lower than our valuation therefore we rejected their offer and made a counteroffer to settle of £10.780.00 in damages, all repairs to be completed within 90 days plus all legal costs recovered from the other side. This offer was accepted by the council and the damages were received by our client within 28 days.

Our client up until the point of instruction had lived with damp, mould and moss growth for over three years which had a negative impact on both her physical and mental well being and whilst getting her home back to the state it was always meant to be in 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: