‘Unfit’ council home payouts hit £35m over 5 years
Councils across England have paid out more than £35m in compensation and legal fees over the past five years to tenants living in “unfit” council homes.
Shockingly, nearly 11,000 tenants have claimed compensation for damp, leaks and damage in their council homes and despite a two-thirds drop in the number of “unfit” homes since 2011, the number of “disrepair” claims has risen.
Lawyers attribute this rise to council tenants becoming more aware of their rights.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said councils were doing a “great job in difficult circumstances”.
It said the number of “unfit” homes had “plummeted” in recent years following investment in council housing, despite cuts in funding.
In 2011 there were 217,000 “non-decent” council homes, according to official statistics. By 2016 this had fallen to 80,000. However, the number of disrepair claims has gone up, from 1,694 in 2011-12 to 2,440 in 2015-16.
BBC News sent Freedom of Information requests to all 325 councils in England and 86% responded, with the data showing that the number of disrepair claims being made has been steadily increasing.
In total 10,930 disrepair claims have been brought against local authorities since 2011-12.
About one in every 20 homes in England is still rented directly from a local council, with the latest government figures showing there are 1.6m council properties still in existence.
However, half of the councils that responded to the BBC’s request for information said they had transferred their housing stock to a housing association or arms-length company.
Seventy-five local authorities disclosed they had paid out money to deal with disrepair claims totalling £35.4m.
Southwark and Lambeth Councils paid out the most in compensation and legal costs since 2011-12, with both authorities paying out more than £10m each.
Maintenance is one of the more complex issues to define, particularly for private tenants and is one of the main reasons for deposit disputes between landlords and tenants at the end of a tenancy.
This is where the National Landlords Code of Excellence (free) property maintenance and repair reporting facility for private renters comes into play.
The NLCE system has been built specifically for private renters who want:
☆ Peace of mind that their home is up to a safe and secure standard.
☆☆ Fewer issues.
☆☆☆ No more chasing.
☆☆☆☆ Faster fixes.
☆☆☆☆☆ Clearer communication.
In compliance with the law the reporting tool also provides a translation service, which allows tenants to report a problem to their landlord in over 100 languages.
Local Authorities and Housing Associations across the UK can also access a brand new solution to help many more low income renters find new homes, reduce homelessness and save public funds, through The Ark Passport.