Social housing tenant, Johanna, has been waiting more than a decade for Croydon Council to issue house repairs, which now eclipse £13,000.
For more than a decade, Johanna (who wishes to go by her first name) has requested housing repairs from Croydon Council. Despite the court ordering repairs, the council have now filed a Section 114 notice. They cite ‘ongoing financial challenges’, imposing an immediate ban on all new expenditures. Due to this, they state that no new repairs will be made to any property. The only exceptions to this are statutory services protecting vulnerable people.
For Johanna, this means spending even longer with damp walls. Walls which her landlord should have fixed several years ago. As a result of the delay, these repairs are now expected to top £13,000.
According to Johanna: “The damp was coming through the wallpaper leaving it saturated, so I’ve forked out a lot of money over the years to keep redecorating and trying to mask the issue.
“The problems at my property have been ongoing for more than 10 years – I’d repeatedly told the council about the issues but nothing was ever done. Inspectors would come out, assess the problem and conclude that it was down to condensation or the foundations of the house, but it was clear that there was something that needed fixing.”
In spite of a court order, Croydon Council had not issued housing repairs within the agreed timeframe. Due to this, Johanna requested that CEL Solicitors issue a new claim.
“Despite the council being ordered to make repairs twice, I’m still in complete limbo – I don’t know what’s happening next and I’m desperate to get my home back once and for all.”
Housing disrepair issues
Housing disrepair is an enormous issue across the UK. Many social housing and private landlords are neglecting their duty of care, putting tenants at risk. Unfortunately, around 20% of cases are reopened due to landlords ignoring court orders. In the past three years alone, CEL Solicitors has launched several hundred claims for these breaches.
According to CEL’s owner and director, Jessica Hampson: “Whilst the Homes (Fitness for Habitation) Act most definitely strengthened tenants’ rights, more needs to be done to ensure the most vulnerable members of our society get access to justice. Despite providing a legal framework, within which we can hold landlords to account, any victory is a hollow one as long as landlords can ignore court orders and refuse to make the necessary repairs.
“At present, if a landlord breaches court orders, the only course of action is to take the same landlord back to court which prolongs the time in which the client is living in poor quality housing. Some of our clients have had to go through this process up to five times, which is not acceptable.
“We see first-hand the devastating impact that the housing crisis is having on vulnerable people and we believe more needs to be done to tackle non-compliant landlords. We have clients, with varied medical conditions, who feel suicidal because they’re being repeatedly ignored and it must stop now.”
At CEL Solicitors our housing disrepair team is dedicated to ensuring repairs ordered by the courts are made. Our team do not close a case until the promises made by the landlord are kept, even if this means making further legal claims.