What is Housing Disrepair
Disrepair or Social Housing Disrepair is a blanket term used to describe a host of issues that lead to a property being in poor condition. So much so that it leads to severe damage to the property, the resident or tenant’s health, and finances. Both tenants and landlords (including Registered Social Landlords and Housing Associations) have a duty of care towards the property by law. Tenants are usually responsible for maintaining the upkeep of the property on a day-to-day basis and dealing with minor maintenance such as changing the lightbulbs or decoration. Landlords normally have greater responsibility and are responsible for the structure and exterior of the property, including walls, foundations, the roof, drains, pipes, windows, and doors. Plumbing and utilities including water, gas, and the central heating system are included within this. If a landlord corrects any issues through repairs, then the problem will often be solved. However, if an issue is left unresolved after being reported then a breach of duty has occurred. For example, incorrect insulation installation could lead to condensation, resulting in black mould forming within the property and potentially a legal claim against a Housing Association or landlord.
The Housing Disrepair Protocol
The Housing Disrepair Protocol was created by the Ministry of Justice as part of the Civil Procedure Rules after recommendations from Lord Woolf. It is intended to be used in the case of a claim being made by a leaseholder and applies to tenants in rented premises in England.
The layout of the protocol describes the conduct that a court would expect parties involved in a claim to follow. Ideally, the protocol is intended to encourage the sharing of information between parties. Some of the key points of the new legislation are to encourage early and full information about any prospective claims, avoid litigation by agreeing to a settlement before court proceedings, and to support efficient case management if attending court cannot be avoided.