A post from The Landlord Law Blog:
Here is a question to the blog clinic from Cheryl who is a tenant
I just moved out of a horrendous flat, it was covered in mould, the floor was decaying (slugs came from underneath), and the walls were always wet with condensation. I had to throw out most my clothes when I moved.
My letting agency and the owner were made aware of the problem, and they said they were surprised and had never had a problem before.
I have since found out that the owner is in a lawsuit with the company that sold him the Property (and was while I was living there) as the city has officially deemed it “unfit for human habitation”.
I lived there for 10 months, my health and belongings were impacted. I am wondering if there’s anything I can do to get compensation?
It sounds as if you have a claim. However insofar as court proceedings for compensation are concerned
- Bringing a this type of claim is not easy and
- You have moved out of the property
Judge’s decide cases on Evidence. The fact that the property has been deemed ‘unfit’ will help you, if you are able to prove this. You will though need other evidence. For example
- To claim compensation for the damaged clothes you will need to be able to prove that they were thrown away and their value. So you will need to compile a list. Your own evidence may be sufficient to prove your loss but your case will be helped if you have other evidence, for example photographs of the damaged clothes, receipts for their purchase, evidence from a friend who can back up what you say, etc.
- To claim compensation for the impact of the property on your health you will need a medical report from your doctor.
- You would also need to give evidence about how the poor condition of the property impacted on your life generally. Ideally for this you should have photographs of the property or a video showing the problems. As you have now moved out you probably won’t be able to produce this evidence unless it already exists.
Your own oral or written evidence (backed up by the fact that the property has been declared unfit) may well be sufficient for most of this, but a Judge will be looking for some sort of corroborative evidence as well.
Generally it is always more difficult to bring this type of claim if you have moved out of the property. It does not mean that it is impossible, but if you are going to bring a claim it is best to prepare for this while you are still in occupation – when you will be able to take photographs, videos and maybe get a professional in to do a report you can use in evidence.
Getting legal help
As this type of claim is not an easy one to bring, you will find it hard to do without help. Unfortunately although many solicitors are willing to act on a no win no fee basis for claims brought against social landlords, they are less willing to do this for private landlords.
The reason for this is simply that with a social landlord you are certain to get paid if you win. Whereas you cannot be sure of this with a private landlord – who for example may go bankrupt or simply be difficult to collect from. So to get a firm of solicitors to help you on a no win no fee basis you will need to persuade them that the landlord is a good bet for payment.
There are organisations which will be able to provide free help. For example Shelter have a number of offices around the country where you can get help, or you may have a local Law Centre. You may also be able to get some help from your CAB.
You will find a list of places with links on this page.
I would strongly advise that you get some advice before taking any action.
Making a claim
I suspect that your landlord – having bought a property he is now unable to let due to its poor condition, is not going to be in a good place financially. He is not going to want another lawsuit though so you may be able to get him to make an offer in order to ‘get rid of you’. So it is probably worth writing and making a claim.
However if he suspects that you are unlikely to actually go to court, he may refuse to negotiate. He is going to be more likely to take your claim seriously if it is made by a solicitor’s letter so I would try to at least get a solicitors (or Shelter office) to help you with this.
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