Can I claim compensation for slow response to fix problems?

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    Can I claim compensation for slow response to fix problems?

    Hi There,

    I am currently living in a student house with 7 other people. We have two shower rooms in the house, and we found that the one above our kitchen had a problem - the floor was leaking water resulting in massive damp mould on the kitchen ceiling and also the floor in the bathroom feels unsteady.

    I reported this 5 weeks ago to our letting agent, they sent people round to have a look, the landlord also sent someone round to have a look. I must have called them 5 or 6 times to see what was happening, they made no attempt it seems to resolve it quickly. This has taken 5 weeks and still nothing has happened, we have just finally been given a date when the builders are coming - in two weeks, this brings it to 7 weeks altogether.

    Not only is the floor structurally unsound (a guy who came to have a look said not to use it as it's not far from falling through), it is also a massive inconvenience to us as 8 people now have had to use 1 shower room for 7 weeks.

    My question is, are we entitled to compensation from the landlord because of the inconvenience this has caused us? I understand the landlord is responsible to make the house structurally sound. Their slow response has meant a massive inconvenience to us, are we legally entitled to any compensation? If so, what should our next actions be?

    Thanks in advance

    Adam

    TL;DR: Problem with bathroom, landlord takes 7 weeks to fix, are we entitled to compensation for the inconvenience?

    #2
    There is no automatic 'entitlement'.

    The LL has statutory obligations to keep the structure (and the shower) in repair, under s.11 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, but the fact of the LL being in breach doesn't give rise to any automatic entitlement to compensation. In the event of a dispute, the matter can only be decided by a court, and meanwhile you remain liable for the full rent (all of you).

    If you feel strongly about it then you should first attempt to negotiate with the LL and attempt to settle on a figure for compensation; depending on the circumstances, a reasonable LL may agree to settle at this stage, albeit five or seven weeks isn't actually that long a period in terms of ongoing disrepair (it may be too long, but not ludicrously long). If LL won't agree to pay you anything, then your only option is to apply to the county court for damages for disrepair. You will need very good evidence to support the claim, and you shouldn't expect to be awarded more than the equivalent of a small portion of the rent for the period in question.

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      #3
      Thank you very much for the reply.

      I thought this might be the case. In that case, I will write a letter to the LL, would you suggest mentioning taking this further - to the county court - at this stage? Or should I just try and negotiate with him without threatening legal action. I don't want to seem threatening but at the same time I want to look assertive.

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        #4
        It's hard to know what to advise other than to set out the facts and to be polite and reasonable. I certainly wouldn't advise starting off with a threat of legal action. Say that you hope he appreciates the considerable inconvenience you've all experienced as a result of the shower room being unsafe to use, and hope that he may be willing to offer a reasonable reduction in rent for the period in question, to compensate for the inconvenience.

        Incidentally, if you don't mind a risk of eviction after the end of the fixed term, which might not be a problem when you're students, then you could report the disrepair to the Environmental Health Officer at the local council. Also, this is probably an HMO so you could also contact the council's HMO department for guidance - there are stricter rules for a LL when it's an HMO.

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          #5
          Is getting an environmental officer involved and the council's HMO department more an move for getting the work done, rather than helping with a compensation claim? Can they add any force to our compensation claim? I have just read about both and I don't fully understand.

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            #6
            Originally posted by Sketchead View Post
            Can they add any force to our compensation claim?
            There is no compensation claim to be had. You'd spend more on court fees then a court is likely to award.

            Getting the environmental officer involved will probably speed the repairs up and the HMO department will also speed things along, but not by much if the work is due to be done in the next two weeks anyway. The EO is not likely to issue an enforcement notice if the repairs are already scheduled.

            Getting these two departments involved is going to make you a troublesome tenant in the eyes of your landlord and you will likely face eviction. But in the light that there is no compensation, this may give you a little satisfaction.
            I offer my advice freely, but I am not an expert, solicitor or judge. It is simply my experience of being a landlord and what I have learnt along the way. I make no warranty for my opinion.

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