Sheffield Council faced with 322 per cent increase in disrepair claims
Sheffield Council said it has faced a 322 percent increase in the number of people trying to claim against them for disrepair to their council home.
Local authorities have a legal obligation as a landlord to maintain the structure and exterior of their properties to a reasonable standard and if they fail to do this, tenants can recover compensation for things like damage to belongings, personal injury and inconvenience.
Due to Covid-19, the council’s repairs and maintenance service stopped all routine and planned works and only carried out emergency jobs causing a significant backlog of thousands of issues that are still being worked through.
As a result, council officers said in a report there was an increase in the number of people making disrepair claims.
The amount of disrepair claims made in 2018/19 was 128 and this rocketed to 277 claims in 2020/21. The average cost of a settled claim is around £3,260.
Council officers said: “There has been an increasing trend in disrepair claims across the social housing sector, with claims management companies turning their attention from personal injury to social housing, targeting tenants with aggressive marketing tactics and encouraging claims that are then sold onto claimant firms.
“This practice continued during lockdown, with companies pursuing tenant disrepair claims, regardless of government guidelines that only urgent property repair should take place.”
They said the repairs and maintenance service was working with housing and legal colleagues on plans to prevent and react to disrepair claims but it has already had a severe impact and is putting additional pressure on resources.