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:
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.
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.
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: