Local authorities were ordered to pay £3,500 in compensation to Agnitha, a 96-year-old woman suffering from dementia who had lived at the property for more than 40 years after damp and mould went untreated for 6 years.
After six years of sending emails and making complaints to Hackney Council of damp and mould in the council property, 96-year-old Agnitha was forced to take legal action to have repairs started and her house-made fit for habitation.
Agnitha suffers from dementia, meaning her daughter, Sharon, helps make sure her mother gets the care and support needed.
“For the last six years, we’ve been sending emails and making phone calls to the council, telling them of the problems at the property. They agreed to make some repairs but then the pandemic hit”, says Sharon.
“There was severe damp and mould throughout the flat, due to a leak in the property above – the council knew about this for six years but didn’t act until we started legal proceedings”.
Agnitha was forced to move her bed into her living room due to the health risks of the housing disrepair.
Hackney Council paid compensation but failed to action the repairs agreed upon. This resulted in Agnitha and CEL Solicitors launching a further claim in March 2021.
“When the case was settled, we thought we were finally moving in the right direction but, after nothing happened, CEL had to restart the whole process again for us.”
Unfortunately, this is not a unique situation. Even after legal action, many landlords ignore court orders. This forces tenants to live in unsuitable properties for a long time.
It’s not unusual for landlords to be ordered by the court to make repairs several times. Depending on the stubbornness of the landlord it may take a few attempts before the repairs will finally be made. Compensation will be paid on each occasion, however.
“I am disgusted by how the council has treated my mother – it felt like they were waiting for her to die”.
A similar case involving Southwark Council resulted in a mother and child being awarded £1,500 after waiting for damp and mould repairs for 4 years.
The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018
In March 2019, the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 came into full effect. This ensures that rented properties are safe, healthy, and free from anything harmful. This includes damp and mould in a rented property.
Jessica Hampson, owner and director at CEL Solicitors, said: “Due to the huge increase in the number of breach claims being brought forward, we have had to set up a specialist repairs team, who are dedicated to following up with cases that have previously settled – this is unique and means we can ensure tenants are not left on their own.”
“With the help of CEL Solicitors, my mother can now live out the rest of her life in comfort. I can’t thank them enough.” – Sharon