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Housing Disrepair Case Study: Severe Damp & Black Mould

by Jane Willacey

We were instructed in April 2021 by Mr H from East Hertfordshire, who had been experiencing ongoing disrepair within his council house since May 2019. We took his case on under a ’No Win No Fee’ agreement.

In May 2019 our client became aware of damp and mould on the walls of both the hallway and the bathroom, this was reported to the council and workmen were sent to the property. The workmen identified a leak in the airing cupboard and repairs were made to stop this leak however, the repairs did not affect the damp and mould, in fact it quickly spread to the walls of the kitchen as well as the flooring in the hallway.

In August 2020 after numerous complaints to the council, workmen again attended the property. The workmen advised that they would report to the council the extent of the disrepair. Our client did not hear from the council again despite making numerous complaints via phone and email.

By December 2020 the mould and damp had become so bad that soft furnishings such as cushions, carpets and curtains were drenched and had to be thrown away. It was at this point that the council provided our client with a dehumidifier which was used 24 hours a day, 7days a week. The machine collected a full bucket of water every 24-36 hours however it had no affect on the mould and damp which continued to spread.

After living for over two years with severe black mould and damp and getting little help from the council our client contacted us, we took on his case under a ‘No Win No Fee’ agreement.

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 surveyor reported that some of the main issues were but not limited to high damp meter readings throughout the property, hazardous black mould on walls, floor and ceilings, blown seals on all the windows and lack of ventilation in both the kitchen and bathroom.

Some weeks later we received an acknowledgement of the letter of claim from the councils’ solicitors, the other party instructed their own surveyor to assess the property, their surveyors report agreed with ours on all counts.

As the hearing date drew closer the other party’s solicitor contacted us with a part 36 offer to settle out of court. The offer that was put forward was on the low end and did not include repairs. We rejected this offer and continued to prepare for the trial. A few weeks later the other party’s solicitor made another part 36 offer which this time included repairs however the damages were below our valuation therefore we made a counteroffer of £10,500 in damages, repairs to be completed within 90 days and all costs recovered from the other side. The other party accepted the offer and the settlement was agreed.

Our client had up until the point of instruction lived within a severe state of disrepair which had caused him much distress and frustration and whilst getting his 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: