Staycations & Bed Bug Infestations

With many people having recently returned from staycations in the UK this summer, an unfortunate few will have unknowingly brought unwelcome visitors home with them in the form of bed bugs. These small (roughly 5mm long) blood-sucking insects are often transported from hotels, B&Bs and holiday rentals in guests’ clothing and luggage, resulting in a domestic infestation which can be extremely difficult and expensive to eradicate.   

As they only emerge at night, bed bugs can be difficult to spot, although the bite marks they leave on all parts of the body are usually obvious, typically grouped together and becoming red, inflamed and itchy within 24 hours of a person being bitten. While bed bug bites can sometimes leave no mark at all, there are a number of other indications of an infestation, including blood and copper coloured fecal stains on sheets, bedding and mattresses. Bed bugs also shed their skin multiple times as they mature and lay eggs, both of which can be spotted, while a further telltale sign of an infestation is the musty, sweet and unpleasant smell which bed bugs release.

Bed bugs are resilient creatures and notoriously difficult to eliminate. The services of a professional pest control company will be necessary to eradicate a bed bug infestation, and multiple visits will normally be necessary to deal with the issue. Over time, bed bugs have become resistant to many insecticides and chemicals, and attempting to deal with an infestation without professional help can make the problem worse by only killing some of the insects and dispersing the rest to new locations at a property. While costly and time-consuming, professional pest control services are absolutely necessary for an infestation to be eradicated effectively.

Our firm has particular expertise in claiming compensation for bed bug bites and domestic bed bug infestations resulting from hotel, B&B and holiday rental stays. We have successfully represented hundreds of clients in these specialist claims over the years, and this experience means that our clients receive the most effective legal representation, as well as the highest amount of compensation for bed bug bites and infestations.

https://www.bartlettslaw.co.uk/bed-bug-claims/compensation-for-bed-bug-bites.html

Housing Association Shamed on Twitter

Over a period of 18 months, a housing association tenant repeatedly begged his landlord for repair work to be done on his mould and vermin-infested property, but without success, during which time he and his two sisters were forced to live in appalling conditions.

The tenant’s property had multiple problems, including damp and mould caused by water streaming into the property, a missing ceiling, exposed asbestos, and a cockroach and rodent infestation. He informed his landlord (Europe’s largest housing association) about the issues on numerous occasions, yet no repair work was carried out until the tenant posted photos of the dilapidated flat on Twitter, after which his case quickly gained publicity and the housing association finally took action.

The chairman of the housing association told the BBC, “We have been publicly shamed by the quality of some of our homes. We took our eye off the ball.”

The tenant has since decided to campaign on behalf of other social housing tenants, and shame housing associations and local councils into taking action to deal with disrepair issues. Many social housing tenants have been living in squalid conditions for decades, but have had their complaints ignored time and again. This recent case highlights how social media can be important in circulating pictures of unacceptable living conditions, and in helping tenants band together to force landlords into taking immediate action to fix problems.

Our firm has considerable experience in suing housing associations and local councils for disrepair issues including damp and mould, vermin infestations, and structural issues with walls and ceilings. Contact our housing law team for a free consultation: 

https://www.bartlettslaw.co.uk/accidents-at-home/suing-a-housing-association-for-injury.html

Walter Sickert Retrospective Opening

The highly-anticipated Sickert: A Life in Art exhibition opens at the Walker Art Gallery on 18th September (next Saturday), and will run until 27th February next year.

This major Walter Sickert retrospective will feature paintings by the artist loaned from national and international collections, as well as drawings from the Walker Gallery’s own collection of Sickert’s work, many of which are being displayed for the first time. The exhibition will showcase around 100 paintings loaned to the Walker Gallery for the Life in Art exhibition and 200 drawings.

A Life in Art is the largest retrospective exhibition of Walter Richard Sickert’s work to be held in the UK for more than 30 years, providing a once-in-generation opportunity for art lovers and anyone interested in the development of modern British art to explore the life and work of one of the country’s most radical and influential artists.

Walter Sickert was born in Munich, Germany and moved to the UK as a child in 1868. In a career spanning six decades, he became a pivotal figure in British avant-garde painting, influencing a generation of British artists as the leader of the Camden Town Group, an association of artists who advocated a rough and unromanticized vision of urban life.

Tickets for The Walker Gallery’s Sickert: A Life in Art exhibition can be booked in advance on National Museums Liverpool’s website:

https://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/whatson/walker-art-gallery/exhibition/sickert-life-art

A New Dimension at the Planetarium

The World Museum’s immersive fulldome Planetarium is currently screening a number of daily shows exploring the mysteries of the Solar System and Earth’s place within it.

The 20-30 minute shows allow visitors to travel through time and space and discover the wonders of the galaxy. The introductory screening, From Earth to the Universe, starts with a history of astronomy, and then embarks on a journey of exploration across the Solar System, out into the Milky Way and beyond. This is the perfect introduction to the mysteries of the universe for people of all ages.

A new show, The Edge of Darkness, explores the outer reaches of the Solar System and what can be found there, including the dwarf planet Pluto, asteroids, comets and other strange and mysterious objects. The Little Star That Could is a cartoon for young children about a newly formed star and how he discovers other stars and planets.

The Planetarium’s other three daily screenings cover one of the great mysteries in astronomy, Dark Matter; the ongoing search for planets orbiting distant stars (exoplanets); and a 20 minute show looking at the discovery and history of the telescope. Visitors will need to make sure they arrive at the correct time for each screening, as no late admittance to shows is possible due to the nature of the experience.

The World Museum’s Planetarium is the oldest planetarium in a British museum, and has been visited by more than two million people since its 1970 opening. The Planetarium’s opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 10am – 6pm, with screenings starting at 11.30am and ending at 5.25pm. Find out more:

https://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/whatson/world-museum/exhibition/planetarium

Damp & Mould Problems For Tenants

Damp and mould is a real problem for tens, if not hundreds of thousands of tenants living in local authority housing and housing association properties. The airborne spores released by mould pose various health risks when inhaled, especially to young children who may develop breathing problems, flu-type symptoms and asthma. Damp and mould is a danger to the health of tenants of all ages, and can make pre-existing medical conditions significantly worse.

Local authorities and housing associations face the same legal responsibilities as private landlords in terms of keeping their properties in a decent state of repair, and taking swift and effective measures to deal with disrepair and damp and mould issues when they are reported. Apart from health problems, damp and mould can cause considerable disruption to tenants’ lives, including damage to personal possessions, stress, sleeping difficulties and time off work. 

Damp and mould is usually the result of structural issues at local authority and housing association properties, such as damaged roof tiles, cracks in plastering and rot around window frames that allow water to penetrate inside the home. Once damp and mould is entrenched, it can be difficult to get rid of, which is why many landlords try to ignore such issues or delay having the necessary repair work carried out. By doing so, they endanger the health of their tenants, frequently causing emotional and domestic turmoil in the process.

Local authority and housing association tenants have a legal right to expect that their landlord will deal with damp and mould problems within a reasonable time frame, and at the very least will address the disrepair issue within 20 working days of it being reported to them. If they fail to do so, the tenant may then sue the local authority or housing association for property disrepair and the associated problems it has caused.

Find out more about damp and mould, disrepair and the expertise and experience of our housing law team in suing local authorities and housing associations:

https://www.bartlettslaw.co.uk/accidents-at-home/sue-council-for-damp-and-mould.html

https://www.bartlettslaw.co.uk/accidents-at-home/suing-a-housing-association-for-injury.html

Emmanuel Bell Strikes 70

2021 marks the 70th anniversary of Liverpool Cathedral’s record-breaking bells being rung for the first time in 1951. When Liverpool businessman Thomas Bartlett died in 1912, he left a bequest for the construction of a huge array of 13 bells for the new cathedral which was then being built. The bells were cast at Whitechapel’s famous bell foundry in 1938 and 1939. The ring of bells weighs 17 tonnes, and surrounds the massive ‘Great George’ bell which weighs 15 tonnes on its own, making it bigger than Big Ben and second only to St Paul’s Cathedral’s ‘Great Paul’ bell. Great George cannot be swung, and is instead struck with a hammer.

Visitors to Liverpool Cathedral can view a small exhibition about the bells, including video and audio content and a selection of photos and drawings showing how the bells were made and put in place from the Cathedral’s archives. Each bell was given a unique name, such as the ‘Emmanuel’ Tenor bell (pictured above) relating to bible characters, historical figures and eminent people associated with the Cathedral’s history. Each bell also bears a unique inscription from the Prayer Book version of Psalms (Old Testament), except for the Emmanuel’s inscription which is taken from the New Testament.

Thomas Bartlett is a direct ancestor of our firm’s owners, and Bartletts are proud to continue a tradition of support for Liverpool Cathedral in its current fundraising efforts. It is possible to support the Cathedral in various ways, especially by making a donation or leaving a gift in a will to help this venerable Liverpool institution continue to provide its unique spiritual and charitable services in the community.

https://www.liverpoolcathedral.org.uk/home/support-our-work.aspx

https://www.liverpoolcathedral.org.uk/home/about-us/about-the-cathedral/the-tower/the-bells.aspx

Tenant Sues Housing Association For £150k

A recent claim brought against a private housing association in London offers insight into the difficulty in determining whether the landlord was responsible for an accident involving a tenant, or whether sheer bad luck was to blame. The claimant had been walking up the driveway to her home one night when she tripped over a large stone in her path and fell into a bush, causing a sharp branch to penetrate her left eye, and subsequently leaving her blinded in that eye.

The claimant’s barrister argued that the pathway was unsafe at the time of the accident, and the landlord had failed to take ‘reasonable care’ to keep its tenants safe from the risk of getting injured while walking on it. The injured tenant had apparently notified the housing association multiple times that the pathway was uneven and unsafe due to large stones and potholes, while the lighting was also poor, yet no action has been taken to repair the surface or make the path better lit.

The housing association’s legal team strongly contested the claimant’s arguments, suggesting she may have been drinking on the night of the accident, which she denied, and questioning whether she had in fact complained to the housing association about the state of the driveway, citing a lack of evidence of messages she had allegedly sent. Work had recently been carried out on the driveway, and this amounted to reasonable care having been taken to make it safe.

The claimant lost her £150,000 compensation claim against her housing association after fierce arguments in court from both sides, with the judge agreeing the the defense that the claimant’s injury was the result of an ‘unfortunate accident’. The case highlights how difficult it can be to prove that a housing association was to blame for an accident, as well as the fact that they are likely to strongly challenge claims made against them, including defending a claim in court.

Find out more about: Suing a Housing Association for Disrepair and Personal Injury

Child Accidents At Theme Parks

Many parents will be taking their children to theme parks this summer during the school holidays and as part of the staycation trend for UK breaks this year. Theme park rides are normally well maintained and properly supervised by park staff, with strict safety measures in place to prevent accidents. However, the sheer number of people visiting theme parks every day combined with the amount of land that theme parks occupy means that accidents do happen, and the majority of these involve children getting injured.

Child accidents at theme parks are often the result of lack of supervision on the part of parents, as well as children’s lack of coordination, carefree behaviour and natural susceptibility to injuries. Other accidents are caused by theme park ride defects and poor maintenance, such as when a seat on a ride tilts or cracks due to wear and tear, or mechanical issues lead to rides speeding up, slowing down or stopping unexpectedly. Theme park owners need to have an efficient system of inspection and repairs in place to prevent accidents of this kind, with safety checks before the park opens and at regular intervals during the day.

Other accidents involving children at theme parks are caused by maintenance failures in the park grounds, such as when rubbish and similar obstructions are allowed to accumulate, or when areas of the site have potholes and uneven surfaces resulting in children tripping and falling. Spilled food and drinks can cause slipping accidents in cafes and restaurants at theme parks, while toilets and washing facilities need to be regularly inspected, cleaned and maintained in a safe state. Children may be struck by objects falling from height at theme parks, for example, when signs become detached and fall due to windy conditions, and park owners need to have safety measures in place that anticipate storms, strong winds and heavy rainfall.            

Theme park owners have a legal duty to ensure that their premises, facilities, rides and other attractions are properly maintained and in a safe condition for visitors, as far as reasonably possible. When the blame for an accident lies with a park’s owners or employees, an injured child will be entitled to compensation. Children under the age of 18 are known as ‘protected parties’ in legal terms, as they are not suitably mature to conduct legal proceedings. They will therefore need to be represented by a ‘litigation friend’, usually a parent or guardian, who can make a claim on their behalf. Compensation will be paid into the court funds office, and held until the child has reached the age of 18. You can find out more about theme park accidents on our dedicated page:

https://www.bartlettslaw.co.uk/accidents-at-hotels/suing-a-theme-park.html

Peace Doves at Liverpool Cathedral

Until the end of August, Liverpool Cathedral continues to host the major ‘mass participation’ art installation, Peace Doves, created by Peter Walker, an artist and sculptor with considerable experience of bringing inspiring large-scale artworks to historic places of worship in Britain.

Peace Doves consists of 18,000 paper doves suspended on ribbons and rising towards the ceiling of the Well (an area of the Cathedral that is regularly used as a display space for art). Before the recent series of lockdowns, Cathedral visitors, local school children and community groups were invited to write their thoughts and messages of peace, hope and love on the paper doves, with thousands of people thereby participating in the work’s staging. Peace Doves is accompanied by a soundscape created by composer and sound artist David Harper.

Peace Doves was due to be displayed in Liverpool Cathedral in spring 2020 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, but the staging was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Dean of Liverpool, the Very Revd Dr. Sue Jones commented, “This artwork builds on previous installations and enables us to continue our mission to be a place of Encounter…We feel enormously grateful to be able to host this amazing installation at Liverpool Cathedral.” 

The artwork is a visual treat, particularly when displayed in Liverpool Cathedral, an unrivalled exhibition space for intriguing and contemplative artworks such as Peace Doves. With only just over a month left to view the installation and the school holidays rapidly approaching, visitors should take the opportunity to view Peace Doves, as well as the popular Angel Wings moving light projection and the interactive art installation Peace to Ourselves.

Peace Doves will be exhibited at Liverpool Cathedral until 31 August 2021, from 11am to 3pm. The Cathedral’s art installations are free to view, however, bookings must be made in advance due to COVID regulations. Find out more:

https://www.liverpoolcathedral.org.uk/43/section.aspx/37/spectacular_art_installation_takes_flight_at_liverpool_cathedral_20_05_2021

Staying Safe on Staycation

Many people are opting against travelling abroad this summer given the uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and confusion over travel regulations, and are instead planning to take a holiday closer to home. Millions of people will be taking a staycation this summer at various types of destinations, including hotels, resorts, holiday homes, campsites and caravan parks. These establishments are likely to be extremely busy over the coming months, as people look to get away after so many months of lockdown restrictions.

Management and staff at these holiday destinations will need to pay particular attention to safety procedures to minimise the risk of guests getting injured or made ill through no fault of their own during their stay. Internal appliances such as gas boilers and immersion heaters need to be working properly, and all electrical goods and appliances must be in similarly good condition. Slips, trips and falls are common accidents at holiday establishments, and are often the result of lack of maintenance or poor inspection and cleaning routines. Frayed or worn carpeting, uneven floor surfaces and rotten floorboards are all possible causes of accidents of this kind. 

Other examples of disrepair that can cause accidents include defective or damaged furniture, problems with banisters on stairs and hazards in outdoor areas, such as potholes in car parks or uneven paving stones in gardens. Bed bugs are a regular problem at many holiday destinations, as the resilient insects are quick to breed and hard to eradicate. Apart from being bitten, guests also run the risk of taking the bed bugs home with them in their luggage, which can lead to an infestation that will be unpleasant and expensive to deal with.

https://www.bartlettslaw.co.uk/accidents-at-hotels/compensation-for-accidents-at-holiday-homes.html

Campsites and caravan parks need to make sure that pitches and outdoor areas at the site are maintained in a good state and kept free from hazards, as far as reasonably possible. Outdoor activities need to be properly organised and supervised, especially when children are taking part. Showers, toilets and cooking areas must be regularly inspected and an efficient cleaning system should be in place to maintain a safe environment for guests. Swimming pool activities need to be supervised by a qualified lifeguard, and safety rules should be clearly on display and properly enforced.

https://www.bartlettslaw.co.uk/accidents-at-hotels/suing-a-campsite-or-caravan-park.html

Amid surging demand for staycations this summer, with prices rising to record highs in certain popular locations, owners, managers and staff at holiday destinations of every type need to make sure that safety measures are in place and properly applied so that guests do not face the risk of getting injured or made ill during their stay due to the negligence of the owner, management or employees.