With the passing of the Civil Liabilities Act 2018 last December and the never-ending uncertainty surrounding Brexit which is impacting the property and commercial sector, many entrepreneurial law firms are seeking out new revenue streams. One that provides for solid growth and steady returns is housing disrepair claims.
A nation of renters
One-fifth of the UK population now lives in rented accommodation, and it is estimated that one-third of Millennials will rent from the “cradle to the grave”. Statistics, therefore, show that unless there is a dramatic shift in the property market, rental accommodation will be a growing sector for many years to come.
The basis for a housing repair claim
A housing disrepair claim is based on the assertion that the landlord has breached the tenancy agreement by failing to repair the premises on time or at all. Action may be taken on the tenant’s behalf under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
All accommodation owned by social housing landlords must meet the Decent Homes Standard. Landlords must continue to maintain homes to at least this standard. A residential tenant may approach the local housing authority (LHA) to take action in respect of the premises if they are in a poor state of repair. The LHA has certain powers and duties under the Housing Act 2004 (HA 2004). These are in addition to any steps which the tenant may wish to take against the landlord for breach of its covenants in the lease.
Although the LHA has several options available to it under the HA 2004, the most likely means for a tenant to try and facilitate the landlord being required to carry out remedial works at the property is the service by the LHA of an improvement notice or an emergency remedial action notice. From 1 October 2018, Assured Shorthold Tenants in England are protected by legislative restrictions on serving a section 21 Notice as a way of attempting a retaliatory eviction following a complaint about disrepair to an LHA.
Tenants may have the right to claim compensation for breach of contract or duty of care if they have suffered inconvenience, injury, or illness as a result of disrepair. Health-related issues are common, especially of the disrepair involved mould and damp; conditions which are known to cause or exacerbate respiratory problems and infections, asthma, and allergies.
In addition, damages may be sought to provide financial compensation to include the following:
- General inconvenience and distress.
- Loss of enjoyment.
- Costs of making alternative arrangements including moving out while repairs are carried out.
- Specific items of loss, for example damaged items, additional cleaning, or heating costs.
Purchasing housing disrepair claims from a claims company
Similar to road traffic accident (RTA) work and other personal injury claims, law firms can purchase housing disrepair cases from claims management companies. However, legal practices must be proactive in ensuring that the claims they purchase have a solid chance of success. Firms branching into the housing disrepair practice area with limited experience often find they waste critical capital by purchasing claims where there is little or no evidence of the disrepair, or where the tenant has failed to make multiple reports of the issues to the Housing Association.
Funding housing disrepair claims
Law firms looking to expand their casebook can acquire funding to obtain cases from a claims company and cover the costs of running those cases. BMS Funding does not charge interest for a period of 18 months, providing ample time for individual cases to settle and produce a return.
Working with a finance company dedicated to the legal profession provides the advantage of ‘another set of eyes’ examining cases obtained from a claims management company, so you can be confident that the money you are investing is spent on quality claims with a reasonable chance of success. In addition, your firm has the support of an organisation who understands the market, providing you with a competitive advantage.
To find out more about finance for housing disrepair claims, please call us on 0333 222 5731.