A recently released survey of both private and social tenants across the UK has found that a shocking two thirds of respondents experienced a disrepair issue during their tenancy, with almost four fifths of London tenants reporting disrepair of some sort, making it the UK’s disrepair capital. The most common disrepair issue was damp caused by water leaking into properties due to disrepair issues such as water leaking through roofs, rotten window frames, and cracked and damaged pipes.
Every year, almost half a million tenants report dampness in their homes according to the English Housing Survey, with over one third of all tenants experiencing dampness in their properties during the past five years, and roughly one quarter reporting a recent mould infestation. Damp and mould are often the result of water leaks and broken pipes, disrepair issues which landlords are obliged to address within a reasonable time frame. How long is judged to be ‘reasonable’ will depend on the specific circumstances, but landlords are expected to act promptly when disrepair issues are reported to them, and urgently if the problem poses a risk to tenants’ health.
Landlords are responsible for the exterior of their properties, including the roof, water and gas pipes, boilers and other appliances. Loss of heating or hot water can make a property uninhabitable in a short space of time, especially in winter, yet the survey revealed that tenants wait 41 days on average for reported disrepair issues to be resolved, while almost a quarter reported having to wait more than six months for their landlord to take action. Leaking water, blocked pipes and roof damage are the most common problems that tenants experience according to the research, disrepair issues which can contribute to damp and mould at properties.
Damp and mould can cause health problems for tenants, including asthma, flu-type symptoms, infections and allergies. Tenants are often able to claim compensation for medical issues caused or made worse by damp and mould, as well as damage to personal possessions. Specialist housing disrepair solicitors like Bartletts can also help local council and housing association tenants obtain a court order for repair work to be carried out: