Social Housing Disrepair Claims Rise By 132% New Research Shows

Flat subject to Social Housing disrepair claims
LPC & GDL Matthew Shiels
Written by: Jessica Lee Legally reviewed by: LPC & GDL Matthew Shiels Updated: In: Housing Disrepair

Housing disrepair claims against social landlords have drastically increased by 132% in just four years. Poor record-keeping, delays, failure to respond to complaints and failings in responding to repairs has led social housing tenants to enlist solicitors. In the past five years alone, English Councils that own their stock have paid out £55.1 million to 17,000 disrepair claims. We estimate these figures to be much higher than the data shows because 100 England Councils did not provide data. Local authorities have formed a plan to lower the rising disrepair claims and help to help improve social housing.

Cost of Council Disrepair Claims Each Year

Statistics by: Inside Housing 

  • 2017 – 2018 – £7,868,748
  • 2018 – 2019 – £10,624,239
  • 2019 – 2020 – £12,646,680
  • 2020 – 2021 – £14,325,758

UK Wide Social Housing Disrepair

Between 2017 to 2018 and 2020 to 2021, the legal cost of housing disrepair claims to the council almost doubled. Furthermore, the number of cases increased by 132%. Housing disrepair issues have affected the larger cities the worse. Of the 29 London boroughs (including the city of London) that manage housing stock, only 12 provided the costs of housing disrepair claims. Of the 12 boroughs that provided statistics, £39 million was spent on claims from 2017 to 2018. These figures further increased by 53% from 2020 to 2021. In addition, the 12 London boroughs plus Birmingham, Manchester, and Sheffield make up £48 million (89%) of the total cost of housing disrepair claims costs.

Why are Social Housing Disrepair Claims on the Rise?

You can attribute several combined factors as the cause for the rise in housing disrepair claims. Understanding the source of the claims provides the first step for authorities to address and combat the social housing issue.

Council’s Neglect

Arguably, the biggest cause for the rise in housing disrepair claims is the fact tenants are left with no choice but to take legal action and they are living in disrepair and can not get a result. ITV has an ongoing investigation into the poor conditions of social housing. The key feature of the report is that the tenants have struggled to get the issue dealt with through the landlords’ channels. A housing disrepair claim cannot be brought forward until at least a month has passed from the initial complaint. Therefore, a failure to respond to complaints is a key contributor to housing disrepair claims to be on the rise. The Housing Ombudsman recently published a special report on Lambeth Council further highlighting this issue. The report revealed key themes of poor record-keeping, delays, or failure to respond to complaints, and failings in responding to repairs. 

Lack of Funding

To address the issue of rising housing disrepair claims, it’s important to explore the reasons why the council is neglecting their tenants. The lack of funding towards social housing disrepair, has left housing neglected and issues unaddressed. Outside of the Decent Homes Program, there has been very little funding put towards the council housing stock.

The last push for council housing was during the post-war boom. As a result, these properties are now reaching a point where the lack of investigation is beginning to show in their disrepair, adding to the increase in. complaints about housing disrepair issues.

Additionally, the new London Council rent reduction can be attributed to the lack of funding for councils. Since the introduction of the new rental reduction, rent income for boroughs in the capital between 2021 and 2022 is £459 million lower.

Proposed Solutions to the Social Housing Disrepair Crisis

Currently, the more housing disrepair claims there are the more the council will have to pay. Therefore, it’s of utmost importance for the councils to find a solution to reduce the amount of housing disrepair claims they receive.

The council are developing a planned maintenance programme that targets the prevention of disrepair. Additionally the programme allocates additional resources to speed up remedial works. Additionally, the introduction of new acts aim to help social housing residents make claims. The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 came into force in England in March 2020. The law requires all landlords in England to maintain their properties to meet minimum standards of human habitation. It protects tenants by giving them the power to take legal action against landlords that they believe are not fulfilling this.

AWH’s Housing Disrepair Solicitors

Our housing disrepair solicitors have handled many cases where tenants have been treated unfairly and misinformed of their rights by their social landlord.
Our housing disrepair solicitors do more than just help you make a housing health claim. They can guide and support you when you have suffered and get you the justice you deserve. The solicitor’s regulation authority (SRA) regulate our hosing disrepair solicitors. Additionally, your claim is on a conditional fee agreement.

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