Over the last 24 months we have seen an increased focus surrounding housing disrepair claims.
Increased focus on housing disrepair

Surviving Squalor: Britain’s Housing Shame1, an ITV documentary was aired in September 2021. This brought a sharp focus to the wider public about the responsibilities landlords owe to their residents. The level of response from viewers even led to ITV having to set up a dedicated email address to manage correspondence from struggling tenants.

This documentary was created after the change in regulatory reforms; Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 20182. The aim of the act is to raise overall property standards in the rental sector and to make it easier for tenants to hold their landlord to account in cases were standards are not being met.

Due to this legislation change, lawyers are now able to support residents easier in bringing legal proceedings against Housing Organisations.

How can insurance become involved?

The cause of housing disrepair claims often results from a situation that has progressively deteriorated over a period of time. All property policies exclude damage by gradually operating causes. Therefore the material damage rectification costs commonly falls to the landlord to fix.

A tenant may be able to seek compensation against you if they suffer financial loss due to damage or injury as a result of your inaction to repair your property.

In our experience most disrepair matters are handled by the Housing Associations following their complaints procedures. On occasion legal firms will assist them in defending or handling litigation matters.

Disrepair services from Gallagher

The key to lowering your spend associated with Disrepair claims is to reduce the risk of them occurring in the first place. To aid you with this we are able to offer the following services:

  • Service A – Audit
    A detailed analysis of your current policies/procedures. This audit will identify areas of strengths and weakness, and highlight how changes could have positively affected the outcome of your disrepair losses.
  • Service B - Training
    An in-person or online training session delivered to your frontline staff members. Focusing on how to identify and proportionately respond to issues that could develop into housing disrepair matters if not actioned quickly.

Gallagher in association with BLM

Whilst the services detailed above should increase your ability to defend disrepair claims, we are aware that certain solicitors are actively encouraging residents to initiate claims.

If you are struggling with the time involved in investigating disrepair allegations and the costs associated with defending your position you should consider the handling arrangement that BLM and ourselves have created.

BLM Handling Agreement

For a fixed fee of £1,000 + VAT, BLM will manage a disrepair claim at the pre-litigation stage, including the provision of advice and putting forward a defence or settlement.

The fee will also include clarification and information gathering, but the proposal is that this requirement is minimised through a front-loaded inception process where key documents and information are provided to BLM at instruction.

This fixed fee approach has the following benefits:

  • Save time for your employees
  • Reduce legal costs
  • Achieve a consistent approach to managing and defending disrepair claims

Ultimately, you may defend more claims and in turn deter claims being made against your organisation. Fees for litigation can be obtained on request, and our fixed fee arrangement can deliver significant savings.

Whilst this isn’t an insurable risk, we recognise the strain that this can put on Housing Associations from a financial and reputational perspective. Therefore we have designed these solutions to help ease this burden.

For more information please contact your Gallagher representative or get in touch.

1. https://www.itv.com/hub/surviving-squalor-britains-housing-shame/10a1795a0001
2. https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2018/34/enacted