Inside Housing – News – Landlords see rise in ‘fitness for human habitation’ claims from ‘PPI-style’ legal firms

Social landlords are seeing an increase within the variety of pricey housing situation claims linked to new laws that’s costing the sector tens of millions of kilos, authorized specialists have mentioned.

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Social landlords are seeing an increase within the variety of pricey housing situation claims linked to new laws, authorized specialists have mentioned #UKhousing

Lawyers have advised Inside Housing that they’re going through a significant uptick in claims made by the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, with many landlords opting to settle out of court docket somewhat than risking increased prices by going by the courts.

The guidelines round what constitutes a property that’s match for habitation beneath the brand new regulation is much stricter than necessities set out within the earlier laws, the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, making it simpler for renters to take authorized motion for a wider vary of disrepair points.

To decide whether or not a property is match for habitation, the property “should not moderately be appropriate for occupation in its situation” due to components starting from damp, lack of air flow, points with water provide or basic disrepair.

The regulation got here into power for brand spanking new tenancies in March 2019 and for present tenancies in March final yr.

Donna McCarthy, companion at regulation agency Devonshires, advised Inside Housing: “After a sluggish begin, the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) provisions are beginning to chew and we at the moment are coping with a lot of claims alleging breach.

“As there isn’t any binding case regulation, tenant solicitors are testing the boundaries of what the court docket might contemplate to be unfit for human habitation.”

Yetunde Dania, companion at Trowers & Hamlins, mentioned the regulation agency has additionally seen a “sharp rise” in housing situation claims, each by the brand new and present laws, that are costing the sector “tens of millions”.

Ms Dania added: “Whether landlords are ready to go to trial on these issues will depend on numerous components, together with their angle to threat.

“Often landlords desire to settle somewhat than incur excessive authorized prices by going to path, however that’s no assure as I typically see instances that accept a small quantity and the prices claimed are over 5 figures.”

The claims, Ms Dania mentioned, are sometimes submitted by “PPI-style” firms which have important expertise in private damage claims on a ‘no win no payment’ foundation.

She mentioned since fastened prices relating to non-public damage claims have been launched – that means there’s a cap on how a lot a claimant can win – many of those organisations have turned their consideration to housing situation claims, the place prices usually are not capped.

Ms McCarthy mentioned provisions within the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act are being “latched on to by solicitors pursuing claims with little or no advantage within the hope that landlords will look to attain fast settlement of claims.

“Of higher concern to landlords is the place this has been raised in claims referring to cladding and fireplace security, the place there are ample interim mitigation measures [such as waking watches and fire alarms] and the property is in an general good situation and the owner would say that the property is match.”

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