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Landlords: Protect Your Property & Prevent Compensation Claims

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By Ruth MacEachern

Product Manager

Nov 20, 2019

In recent years, changes to the law means a tighter crack-down on tenant living conditions, especially in regards to damp and black mould. As a result, numerous solicitors and legal firms are approaching tenants and advising them they can “sue” their landlords and claim compensation for issues such as condensation and mould.

These firms also provide a ‘no win, no fee’ benefit making their approach even more attractive.  Whilst this means that rogue landlords who would happily let their tenants live in unhealthy environments are finally getting their comeuppance, it unfortunately, also means that private landlords with good intentions are also at risk.

It would appear that law firms see condensation/damp/mouldy rented accommodation as lucrative wins, to the point where they are even targeting rented properties. These firms are utilising leaflet drops at properties with such headings as ‘where there is condensation there could be compensation.’ Furthermore, they are also popping up on things like Facebook community groups and paying for advertising in order to target tenants.

On the other hand, the registered charity Shelter calculates there are almost a million rented homes with hazards that pose a serious risk to health and safety at present - affecting about 2.5 million people, so there is a need for legal representation to be involved.

The increase in attention to these types of cases from solicitors is probably as a result of Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act coming into force in March 2019. It is designed to ensure that all rented accommodation is fit for human habitation and to strengthen tenants’ means of redress against the minority of landlords who do not fulfil their legal obligations to keep their properties safe.

The Act applies to the social and private rented sectors and makes it clear that landlords must ensure that their rented property, including any common parts of the building, is fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout.

These changes of course only threaten those landlords who would happily let tenants live in unsafe, unsanitary and hazardous environments. There are also exceptions to the act, the landlord will not be required to remedy unfitness when:

  • the problem is caused by tenant behaviour
  • the problem is caused by events like fires, storms and floods which are completely beyond the landlord’s control (sometimes called ‘acts of God’)
  • the problem is caused by the tenants’ own possessions
  • the landlord hasn’t been able to get consent e.g. planning permission, permission from freeholders etc. There must be evidence of reasonable efforts to gain permission
  • the tenant is not an individual, e.g. local authorities, national parks, housing associations, educational institutions

However, landlords should still be aware of the act as a lot of firms may exhaust every avenue in order to make a case. In order to quash any potential legal threats, you must remain vigilant and ensure your property complies with the following;

  • The building hasn’t been neglected and therefore in a bad condition
  • The building is stable
  • There are no serious damp issues – there are many forms of damp so ensure your property isn’t affected.
  • There is enough natural light
  • There are no problems with the supply of hot and cold water
  • There are no issues with the drainage and lavatories
  • There’s not enough ventilation

Condensation is a very visible factor of poor ventilation and something your tenants can easily evidence in photographs. Likewise, the damage caused by condensation problems is very apparent - especially to a judge. By investing in a proper ventilation system for your rental property you are preventing much more than just some streaming windows, you may even be counteracting a jail sentence and a loss of thousands of pounds.

The ventilation system you require will be based on the property; it’s size, whether it’s a house, bungalow or even a block of flats and the properties ventilation needs. So it is important that you speak to an expert in ventilation who can help you design the right system for your property and ensure there is enough air circulating around your property to permanently cure the problem.

EnviroVent have a wide range of ventilation products from; Positive Input Ventilation - a domestic whole house ventilation system, which is increasingly used in the social housing sector and rented properties to reduce high levels of moisture in the air and improve air quality or a high performance extractor fans designed for bathrooms and kitchens which consists of inline extractor fans, silent extractor fans, wall mounted extractor fans and axial fans.

With over 30 years’ experience solving condensation and mould problems across the UK, we like to think that we know what we are talking about and consider ourselves to be the experts when it comes to providing permanent solutions to cure condensation and mould problems.

With a team of local surveyors and installers across the UK we work closely with private landlords, letting agents and more than 500 registered social housing providers and major procurement groups to supply the right solution for refurbishment programmes, responsive repairs work and development projects.

We have been fortunate to work with many councils and housing associations such as; Isle of Anglesey County Council, Havebury Housing and Fife Council. Our unique integrated service means we not only provide award-winning products manufactured here in the UK, but we also install them through our directly employed team of nationwide installation engineers, who are all NICEIC & BPEC qualified to ensure our products are fitted to the highest standard.