Lettings agents face a growing number of mischievous property disrepair claims as tenants and ‘ambulance chasing’ law firms wake up to the potential pay-days such claims can bring.
That’s the warning from solicitor Carly Jermyn (pictured), Director of Woodstock Legal Services which works with both agents and landlords.
She says that more and more tenants are becoming aware of their rights under the recently-enacted Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.
“More tenants are using counter-claims under this legislation to delay or stop possession claims particularly when they have fallen behind in the rent,” she says.
“This is partly a fall-out from the pandemic during which some tenants either wilfully or through desperation decided to prioritise the basics such as food and heating – and making a disrepair claim is one way to offset the potential debt incurred via rent arrears.”
Jermyn also says that her legal firm has seen an increasing number of ‘no-win, no-fee’ solicitors entering the private rented sector, which they believe is an untapped aera of potential claims or tenants and therefore revenue and profits for them.
“I had one contact me who had been operating in the road traffic accident sector but, because new rules are making it more difficult to make claims, wanted to get into housing disrepair,” she adds.
Her comments will also be given more impetus by yesterday’s Queen’s Speech. It included details of how the government plans to launch a property portal listing rented properties in the UK, within which it will detailed whether a home has reached the Decent Homes Standard.
Richard Murray, CEO of rental software firm Veco, says: “It is important to demonstrate in court that as a landlord or agent, you know what you are doing and have strict processes in place.
“Our software provides an audit trail of works orders, time and date stamped – essentially housing all the evidence that is needed in a disrepair claim, in one place.”