The Pre-Action Protocol for Housing Disrepair Cases sets out details as to what a letter of claim for a housing disrepair claim should contain.
The Protocol applies to most civil claims arising from the condition of residential premises and may include a related personal injury claim. It covers such claims made by tenants, lessees and members of the tenant’s family.
Before using the Protocol tenants are, however, encouraged to ensure that their landlords are aware of the disrepair and to consider whether options for having repairs carried out and/ or obtaining compensation are more appropriate.
What are the requirements of the Protocol?
Early Notification Letter
A Claimant is required to give notice of the claim to the landlord as soon as possible.
If the Claimant is unable to send a letter of claim setting out full details of the claim because he is awaiting information or where a repair is urgent, the Claimant is encouraged to send an early notification letter to the landlord.
The Protocol sets out what an early notification letter should contain. Specimen early notification letters are annexed to the Protocol. An early notification letter should contain the following information:
The tenant’s details
The early notification letter should state the tenant’s name, the address of the property, the tenant’s address if he does not live at the property and his telephone number.
Access to the property
The early notification letter should indicate when access is available to the property.
Details of the defects
Details of the defects should be set out in the early notification letter, including any defects outstanding, in the form of a schedule. Annexed to the Protocol is a specimen schedule which can be used for this purpose.
If the landlord has previously been given notification of a defect details of the previous notification(s) should be set out. As should any information as to why the tenant believes that the landlord has knowledge of the defect.
If the tenant proposes that expert evidence be obtained the details of any proposed expert should be set out. A proposed letter of instruction to the expert should accompany the early notification letter.
Copies of any relevant documents which are readily available to the tenant should accompany the early notification letter.
The early notification letter should also request disclosure from the landlord of all relevant records and documents including a copy of the tenancy agreement and documents or computerised records relating to the notice given, the disrepair reported, inspection reports or repair works to the property.
Release of information
Where appropriate, the early notification letter should include the authorisation for release of the information to, for example, the tenant’s solicitors.
Time for responding to the early notification letter
Normally a landlord should be given 20 working days to respond to an early notification letter.
The letter of claim
The tenant is expected to notify the landlord of his claim at the earliest reasonable opportunity by sending to him a letter of claim.
For more information on:
- The tenant’s details
- Access to the property
- Details of the defects
- History of the defects
- Previous notifications
- Effect of the defects
- Special damage
- Release of information
- Action required of the landlord