Stop Housing Disrepair Claims with Thermal Investigations

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. 

 

House chimney stack in disrepair

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Thermal Surveys Identify Issues in Housing Disrepair Claims

Under the right conditions, thermal cameras can identify heat loss, dampness, condensation, thermal bridging, and missing or poorly installed insulation.

Whether you are a landlord or tenant, understanding what the thermal camera can identify when operated by a trained professional, can only help identification of any disrepair issues. 

Drone Site Surveys qualified pilots are also BINDT (British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing) Level 2 qualified thermographers. It is important in housing disrepair claims to use minimum Level 2 qualified thermographers as they are trained in the data collection and subsequent analysis of the images. Level 2 thermographers can also write reports that could be used as evidential facts in the case of any litigation.  

housing disrepair survey. Inspect your roof and property with Drone Site Surveys.

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Issues Highlighted by Thermal Cameras

Thermal images can hold secrets unable to be seen by the naked eye

Taken under the right conditions by a trained thermographer, thermally tuned images can identify anomalies that can affect thermal comfort, fuel poverty, and even health conditions.

In the 4K example picture shown in this section, no visible signs of staining or anomalies are visible. However, in the thermal example picture shown here, a dark patch is noticed near the ceiling and wall junction which highlights a cold area. In the thermal scale next to the image, we have included a dewpoint marker which shows all areas with corresponding colours to be prone and open to condensation. The thermal scale next to the image shows the highest and lowest recorded temperatures in the image at the time of capture. This picture could highlight a number of anomalies that require further invasive investigation such as a thermal bridge, a leaking roof, or missing or poorly fitted insulation. In this particular instance, the insulation hadn’t been fitted in the eaves correctly and was a minor fix. If the problem had not been identified and resolved, it could easily have turned into condensation, then damp, then mould spores, and ultimately the resident could have experienced health issues.   

Qualified thermographers can ensure that the correct conditions are met and recorded before taking the imagery. Once the thermal images have been taken, a trained thermographer will “thermally tune” the “noise” out of the image, so that they can analyse effectively any issues shown. Also by adding the dewpoint calculation which is created by taking the humidity reading (at the time of data capture) and air temperature into a mathematical equation, we can highlight areas that have hidden defects or are prone to condensation and ultimately more severe building faults. 

Find out why your home is cold

Benefits of a Thermal Survey

Thermal Building Surveys provide a noninvasive way to identify problems that are not normally visible to the naked eye. If you carry out a thermal inspection you can identify issues prior to them becoming serious to health. 

We should all be looking to reduce our carbon footprint and thermal building overviews can certainly help to reduce our carbon outputs. By identifying areas of heat loss, water ingress, or dampness, and then rectifying them is saving carbon and reducing our own, and the countries output. According to the UK Green Building Council, the built environment contributes around 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint. 

Often the issues highlighted can be straightforwardly and cheaply fixed. Whether it be replacing a small section of insulation in the loft, adding thermal sealant around windows or doors, or even identifying a small leak, these are often minor fixes that can have profound effects on your carbon output. Implementing fixes like these can help to reduce fuel poverty, improve thermal comfort and mitigate against climate change. 

How we can help

Drone Site Surveys can carry out an extensive internal and external survey of a property with thermal cameras to identify any defective or missing insulation, dampness, or thermal bridging. A large amount of disrepair is caused by damp which can lead to condensation and ultimately toxic mould growth.

Here at Drone Site Surveys, for landlords, we can provide factual reports on any disrepair issues so that effective targeted remedial work can be put in place. For tenants, we can provide a report that can be used to support a claim by providing significant evidence of housing disrepair (if the property is in disrepair). 

How can thermal imaging mitigate disrepair?

Using thermal imaging equipment we can identify within a property area of cold spots that are liable to damp and mould growth.  Identifying these areas can provide information on likely causes and possible repairs needed. As well as an internal investigation, we can carry out an external survey of a property using one of our drones fitted with FLIR cameras. Another major cause of damp or cold spots is caused by poor quality insulation. With our drones we can identify heat loss through a roof or loft space, identifying missing, defective, or poorly installed insulation.

Disrepair Claims – How thermal imaging can help

If you are a landlord and a tenant notifies you of a problem with their accommodation, then booking a thermal survey will be a proactive response helping you to understand the tenant’s concerns. The survey when carried out by a Level 2 thermographer can be used as evidence to support any ongoing case. 

From a tenant’s perspective, a thermal survey can support your case if issues are identified. 

Health Effects related to housing disrepair

Using infrared imaging equipment we can identify thermal anomalies within buildings.  These thermal anomalies could lead to serious health issues including allergic reactions and respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia amongst others. If the issue in the home relates to black mould, then there could potentially be long-term health problems for the occupiers.   

Who Benefits from a Housing Survey

A survey of property both externally and internally can provide a wealth of information about the current state of the building. From water, storm, or structural damage to dampness, we can provide a full thermal survey report that can be used to proactively rectify any defects within the building. The information could also be used as supporting evidence in a claim. This type of investigation can benefit either side of a claim, whether that be a tenant or landlord. As well as private rented property, we can and do support Housing Associations and Registered Social Landlords.

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