Top tips on gathering evidence for making a housing claim

Personal injuries and health problems suffered by tenants can often result from reported problems in rented accommodation which a landlord chooses to ignore. Which is why gathering evidence for making a housing claim is crucial.

Your home is your sanctuary, even more so when you can’t leave them due to a global pandemic. So it stands to reason that it shouldn’t be allowed to fall into a state of disrepair where it might be deemed unfit to live in. Of course, when you own your home this responsibility falls with you, but if you live in rented/government owned property you rely on your landlord to keep your property ‘liveable’.

The results of recent research conducted by a leading property maintenance company found that 43% of tenants (drawn from 1,000 survey responders) readily admitted that living conditions in their rented properties had negatively affected their health.

There are a number of issues within a home that could seriously affect your health and wellbeing:

  • Lung/respiratory problems caused by mould/damp and/or vermin
  • Cuts, scrapes and puncture wounds, consistent with sharp edges/poorly fitted fixtures
  • Injuries resulting from property-related trip hazards (loose steps, carpet, etc)
  • Electric shocks and burns instigated by faulty appliances/electrics
  • Bacterial infection (e.g. Legionnaire’s disease) caused by stagnant closed water issues
  • Carbon monoxide related illness

What Level of Health Risks Might Present in Rented Accommodation?

Aside from the examples mentioned above, there are various other elements – some of which are even unseen or smelt – which can have severe health ramifications if they’re not corrected by the landlord at their first opportunity.

Electrical safety – switches, power sockets, fuse boxes and electrical appliances in situ must be in good working order when a new tenant moves in. Regular checks must also be carried out by a certified electrical engineer too, and in accordance with the law.

Gas safety is equally imperative, as it can be a threat which hides in plain sight. Safety checks should be undertaken by a gas safe-registered engineer annually, while landlords are legally obliged to maintain and repair the slightest gas issues in their property. Subtle, yet lethal, incorrect gas installations can excrete incredibly dangerous carbon monoxide fumes into the immediate atmosphere in a home. This scent, colour and taste-free threat can’t be detected by humans, unless a carbon monoxide alarm is installed to alert tenants to any leaks.

From a fire safety perspective, current legislation stipulates landlords need to install a minimum of one smoke alarm on each level within a rented property.

Meanwhile, structural compliance extends to ensure that landlords secure the likes of loose roof tiles, masonry and gutters, along with instances of leaning walls and broken windows on a building’s exterior. Broken furniture, unstable stairs, sticking nails and rotten wooden joists and supports on the interior of a property also need to be made good.

Other, perhaps less obvious threats – yet significantly detrimental to a tenant’s health and respiratory function – include the previously cited damp and mould. Again, any evidence of this should be taken care of by a responsible landlord asap. Sanitation systems and closed water storage infrastructure is another key area where the landlord has duties of care to a tenant. Bacteria could take root if water systems aren’t routinely monitored and flushed out during periods of inoccupancy, running the risk of legionella.

Asbestos is also a largely unseen danger; it is a highly toxic material that could cause permanent damage after prolonged inhalation of fibres. Tenants have a right to know if the property was constructed prior to 2000 (when the building material ceased to be used) and whether or not it has undergone any asbestos removal programme over the years.

Landlords Will Normally Act to Avoid Housing Claims Against Them Being Pursued

In the majority of cases landlords will act to rectify the problems once they have been alerted to them. Either directly, if they’re more your hands-on type of landlords, or through the lettings agency they use to deal with the everyday scenarios, if they are perhaps located elsewhere in the country.

‘DID YOU KNOW that nearly half of UK tenants claim to have suffered health problems and injury as a direct result of conditions in their home?

That said, there are always exceptions to the rule. Some more unscrupulous landlords could choose to turn a blind eye to issues which crop up. Ones which leave tenants in compromising positions which could easily impact on their quality of life and affect both their physical and mental health if left unactioned.

How DIYPI Can Help You with the Gathering Evidence for Making a Housing Claim

If you’re a tenant living in council housing or housing association properties that has defects which pose serious health implications if left unremedied, yet your landlord steadfastly refuses to do something about your legitimate concerns? What options do you have?

In short, you are entitled to challenge your landlord based on your health and safety fears alone. If this is met with a wall of silence and inaction leading to a failure to resolve the serious issues, then you can make a housing claim. Personal injury management companies like DIYPI have been well schooled in taking on cases of this nature in the two decades we’ve been in business and are therefore professionally equipped to represent you going forward.

Here at DIYPI we can give you access to a panel of expert solicitors, all hugely experienced in housing claims and helping clients bring to account landlords found to be in breach of tenancy agreements. It’s these specialist solicitors who will undertake an initial assessment of your case and compile a report on the property. Culminating in a request that the landlord acts upon recommendations made and within an agreed timeline.

But first of all – and before we would go any further – we’d need you to start gathering evidence for making a housing claim, so our team knows what they’re dealing with.

Why Gathering Evidence is So Important

If you’re a tenant living in residential property belonging to a housing association or a council house and you’ve reported a housing issue to your landlord which has not been carried out, then you could be able to make a claim for compensation.

However, in building a water-tight case you’re going to need to gather as much evidence as possible so as to support your claim. The following documents and examples of evidence will put you in a strong position to pursue a housing claim for personal injury:

Copy of written proof that you have tried to contact your landlord and you have given them enough time to reply and/or arrange repairs.

  • Any expert evidence you can lay your hands on. For instance, a survey or report from an Environmental Health officer will lend official weight.
  • Medical or GP notes relating to your illness, explaining how your health has been affected.
  • Copies of any correspondence between you and your landlord regarding unresolved issues. This can include photos which capture the issues of property disrepair, text messages, emails, etc.
  • Details of any annual property inspections that should have been carried out but weren’t, together with dates of when a landlord visited the property and would have acknowledged the defects/state of disrepair/health issues.
  • Any receipts proving you had to replace things that had been damaged/destroyed by the problem.
  • A copy of your tenancy agreement

Gathering evidence is key when you’re looking to make a personal injury housing claim against a landlord. However, you need to prove that the property suffered from defects which caused your personal injury or led to a particular health issue, and that the landlord was made aware of your concerns. And that notably, they failed to take the necessary measures to resolve them.

Get in touch today to start your housing disrepair case.

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