Why do Social Landlords rush to claim possession when there is disrepair?
Moss & Co Tenants’ department represented a client in a possession claim for rent arrears of £2000. Our client said that there was disrepair at the property. This included leaks in the kitchen and bathroom and a mouse and cockroach infestation. The client had evidence that she had complained about the problems repeatedly. Legal aid was obtained and Moss & Co defended the case and counterclaimed for disrepair.
It is very common for Housing Officers to have one track minds about rent. They pursue possession when they should first check that the property is in good repair. The tenant on receiving a summons or Notice Seeking Possession consults solicitors. They discover that they can claim compensation which wipes out the arrears and more. This case is a typical example of a tenant behind with the rent being able to turn the tables on the Landlord because they did not stop and think before going to Court.
We obtained a surveyors report which confirmed the disrepair. Following negotiations the Claimant agreed:
To pay the Defendant a sum in excess of £3000.00
To write off the Defendants rent arrears
To carry out all the works
Note: Time after time Social Landlords rush to claim possession without making any checks. They should first check that they have complied with the terms of the tenancy. Also s11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 requires them to keep their property in good structural repair. A check of the premises and a conversation with the tenant would save them money in compensation payments, lost arrears and legal costs. The tenant would not face unnecessary stress and Court proceedings would be avoided. One day Housing officers will talk to the lawyers before deciding to press on with Court proceedings.