Social housing, sometimes called council housing, is meant to be affordable. It is owned and managed by Government-run housing associations or not-for-profit organizations. Such housing projects have been created to provide a secure home for tenants (who can be protected from unjust eviction). Families can grow and plan for their future as such projects offer safer tenancy.
The council handles the allocation of social housing to interested people. Although they normally have a waiting list, the council and the social landlords have the freedom to choose or refuse anyone. More than a million households are waiting to be chosen but the number of social homes is not enough to accommodate everyone.
The current housing emergency that the UK is going through also has the government encountering challenges in maintaining quality social homes. The thousands who need it the most are either homeless or living in temporary shelters. There are still about 17.5 million who are living in unaffordable, cramped, or unsafe homes struggling to find permanent homes that do not have disrepair issues and high monthly rent.
Carol McGuinness, a 60-year old with respiratory problems and rheumatoid arthritis, lives with her son in Liverpool and has had to deal with tons of disrepair issues that aggravated her medical condition. She and her 33-year old son, who has heart failure, encountered about 58 disrepair in-home issues from faulty electrics, rat infestations, dampness, mold, cracks, and leaks.
The mother and son had been complaining about their three-bedroom home’s issues for five years and, when repairs were finally carried out, they were temporarily sheltered in a house that was in an even worse condition. It was alleged to be a former drug den that had broken windows and a rickety floor, a defective heating system, and walls with a multitude of cracks.
After having been told by her physician to leave their Liverpool home to save her health, Carol was also ordered to vacate the temporary shelter as it was not safe for her either. She moved in with her sister while Michael stayed in the temporary home for a year. Aside from the stress that the “former drug den” caused him, his mental health suffered as he was losing sleep in their original home over the rat infestation and all the disrepair issues.
Carol filed a disrepair claim that made Your Housing Group—the housing association that owned the property—agree to make the repairs and compensate her for £2,000 in February 2020. However, she had to file a second claim when they failed to carry out the work. They needed to finish the repairs by October 2020 and agreed to pay Carol for reneging on their word.
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Fitness For Human Habitation
Rented homes, even social housing, must be fit for human habitation. The Homes Act, an amendment of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, ensures that landlords provide homes that are “safe, healthy and free from things that could cause serious harm.” Tenants can file a lawsuit against their landlord who ignores repair requests or does not maintain the upkeep of the property.
Even though the tenants have their rights and the landlord has a long to-do list in terms of repair responsibilities, tenants must also play their part in helping the landlord with the property’s general maintenance.
- Garden upkeep
- Interior decoration
- Repair of tenant-installed heaters
- Repair of appliances, including doorbells
- Drain stoppers, basin tub, sink, toilet seats, and bowls replacements
- Locks, hinges, internal handles
- Chimney upkeep and repair (if the damage is caused by failure to clean it)
- Plaster cracks inside walls and ceilings
- All external works including repairs to the garden path, gates, fences, and walls
- Upkeep of the communal areas
- Structural repairs
- External paintwork
- Electrical wiring including of the appliances that were supplied by the landlord
- Replacement and repair of fuses and doorbells
- Solid fuel cooking and heating appliances that were installed by the NIHE
- Plumbing works like pipework, valves, radiator fixes, and fittings
- Doors and windows
- Letter boxes, trapper bars
There are issues that may arise due to irresponsible tenant behaviour. This is an exemption for landlords who, under the Homes Act, are not required to fix such problems.
Housing Disrepair Claim
Carol had to file for a claim twice as her social housing owner did not act on her repair requests right away. The £2,000 compensation was not enough for the stress that her severely damaged home caused her and her son’s health.
Some landlords will take time to fix disrepair in home issues. In Carol’s case, it took five years before her requests were acted on. Your request must be in letter form, complete with photos, and should be sent via email for use as evidence when needed.
If you think your housing association or local council is taking too long to address your complaints, you can file a lawsuit and seek compensation. Contact the housing disrepair compensation experts at disrepairclaim.co.uk to help you with your case.