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Housing Disrepair: Damp & Hazardous Black Mould – Case Study Nine

by Jane Willacey

We were instructed in January 2022 by Mrs D from Berkshire who had been experiencing ongoing damp and black mould within the leasehold flat she shared with her three children since 2014. We took her case on under a ’No Win No Fee’ agreement.

Our client and her family moved into their first floor flat in 2014 and in 2015 they purchased the leasehold. In early 2016 our client noticed damp and black mould on the wall in the main bedroom next to an exterior window. Our client contacted the freeholder but didn’t receive a reply. Our client continuously reported the disrepair between 2016 and 2021 to no avail.

In November 2021 our client who was unsure of the cause of the mould arranged for a plasterer to attend in a view to re-plastering the wall. The plasterer advised that he was unable to re-plaster the wall as it was far too wet and there must be a significant leak which would need to be remedied before the plaster work can be renewed.

The freeholder made no attempt over five years to adequately investigate or attempt to repair the external damage which was the root cause of the internal disrepair therefore once we took instruction, we gathered evidence of the correspondence between our clients and the freeholder plus copies of the original lease and appointed an expert surveyor to assess the property and report his findings.

The surveyor reported that the main issue was moisture penetration from the rainwater cast iron downpipe which had suffered fractures along the length of the pipe causing moisture to soak through the substrate and damage the plaster lining of the wall causing a high concentration of humidity and black mould.

We sent a detailed letter of claim to the freeholder 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 regarding the freeholder’s responsibility for the maintenance and repairs of all common area water and waste pipes.

The freeholders solicitor acknowledged our letter of claim and instructed their own nominated surveyor to assess the property. The freeholder’s expert surveyors report agreed with ours, however the freeholder was neither willing to provide a schedule of works nor make our client an offer for damages therefore we issued court proceedings.

As the date of the hearing grew closer the freeholders’ solicitors contacted with a part 36 offer to settle out of court, the offer was well below par and was rejected by our client therefore the hearing went ahead.

The judge ruled that our client be awarded £15,000 in damages, her home be sufficiently repaired and all legal costs to be recovered from the other side.

Our client and her family had up until the point of instruction lived with damp and black mould for over six years and whilst getting their home repaired and returned to a liveable state was of primary importance the compensation that they received helped immensely with getting their lives back on track.

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