Can I Make A Housing Disrepair Claim For Damp?

or call Legal HD on 0161 974 7350

Specialist housing disrepair call handlers

Can I Make A Housing Disrepair Claim For Damp?

or call Legal HD on 0161 974 7350

Damp is a very common problem in housing, regardless of the size or age of a property. It can be very unpleasant to look at and live with and if left can very quickly deteriorate to make a home uninhabitable and dangerous. However, it is not always the case that damp is classed as ‘disrepair’ and hence, it is a complex area in terms of liability for the problem. It is not clear-cut that you will be able to make a housing disrepair claim against a landlord for cases of damp and mould, but here we will attempt to explain why and what your best course of action is.

What are the different types of damp and how are they caused?

There are four common types of damp:

  • Condensation – This is a visible and slightly superficial type of damp in that it manifests itself as mould spots typically around windows or vents. It is caused by poor insulation or a lack of ventilation, which usually causes moisture on windows during the winter months.
  • Penetrating damp – This is damp that gets into brickwork and wall structures and is not always visible until it gets really bad. It will make paint and plaster blister and eventually crumble or deteriorate. Penetrating damp is caused by damaged roofing, cracks in structural walls, damaged guttering, damaged fascias and soffits or internal pipes that are leaking.
  • Rising damp – This is damp caused by moisture in the ground that travels up a wall and usually shows as large damp patches in corners and above skirting boards. It is caused by there being no damp proof course in a property, or the damp proof course is damaged or has been breached.
  • Traumatic damp – This is damp that has been caused by a traumatic event, such as flooding as a result of the weather or as a result of a major plumbing issue.

Why is damp a complicated issue when making a housing disrepair claim?

A tenant can make a claim for housing disrepair based on their tenancy agreement and under legislation such as Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, the Defective Premises Act 1972 and the Housing Act 2004. However, it is important to note that ‘disrepair’ means that a feature of the property has been damaged and you are asking the landlord to repair it. That is not always the case with damp. Has the damp issue in your rented accommodation caused some damage? Or is it just an unsightly stain on the walls that is unpleasant to look at, but not actually causing you any issues? If this is the case, then you may not be able to make a claim.

Also, if there is no damp proof course in the property, the landlord could claim that this is a construction fault and not technically their responsibility. However, if there IS a damp proof course and it has been breached or is damaged, causing the damp, then the landlord IS liable.

Health issues can also cause another grey area. You may have a damp issue that is not necessarily disrepair, but you can still make a claim because the damp has deteriorated to the point where it is affecting your health and therefore the property is uninhabitable. If this is the case you would need to obtain medical evidence from your doctor that the damp is causing you health issues, so the landlord does not automatically escape liability if there is no evidence of the damp causing a structural disrepair of the property, because the property needs to be fit for habitation. In all such cases you should seek clarification from a legal expert such as Legal HD.

What should I do if I have evidence of damp in my rented property?

  • You should inform the landlord straight away if you find damp in your property. They may visit your home to inspect it and decide that they don’t currently need to do anything, but at the same time they may choose to address the root cause of the damp to prevent it deteriorating. Alternatively, the landlord may do nothing.
  • Always keep evidence of the damp, including regular photos to show how it is getting worse, and dates of when you have informed and spoken to the landlord.
  • If the damp gets worse and the landlord hasn’t done anything you may be able to make a claim if the damp is causing you health issues, or if it is causing a disrepair issue and the property is uninhabitable.
  • You could carry out repairs yourself and claim the cost back from your landlord, but again this can be complicated, so always seek legal advice before choosing this option.
  • You should always maintain your rental payments while any dispute is ongoing. If you refuse to pay your rent while a damp issue is unresolved you could be breaching your tenancy agreement. In this case the landlord may have grounds to start proceedings against you, which could result in you being evicted from the property.

Specialist legal advice on damp issues

If you have a damp issue in your rented accommodation, contact Legal HD and we will support you with legal advice and provide a pathway forward by outlining the options you have to proceed, so get in touch today.

Andrew Dow - Legal HD Co-Founder
Peter Hartley - Legal HD Co-Founder

Contact Legal HD

Do you believe you have a case to make a housing disrepair claim? If so, contact Legal HD today via the form below or call us on 0161 974 7350 today.

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