What should a letter of claim for a housing disrepair case contain?

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.

Previous notifications

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.

Experts

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.

Documents

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.  

The Protocol specifies what information the letter of claim should contain. Specimen letters of claim are annexed to the Protocol. A letter of claim should contain the following information (unless such information has already been provided in an early notification letter):

The tenant’s details

The letter of claim 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. 

Where the claim contains a personal injury element the identities of all persons who plan to make a personal injury claim should be stated.

Access to the property

The letter of claim should indicate when access is available to the property.

Details of the defects

Details of the defects should be set out in the letter of claim, 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.

History of the defects

A history of the defects should be set out in the letter of claim, including attempts to rectify them.

Previous notifications

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.

Effect of the defects

The effect of the defects on the tenant should be set out in the letter of claim. This includes any personal injury suffered by the tenant or his spouse or family.

Special damage

If the tenant has suffered any special damage details of such damage should be set out in the letter of claim.

Experts

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 letter of claim.

Documents

Copies of any relevant documents which are readily available to the tenant should accompany the letter of claim. 

The letter of claim should also request disclosure from the landlord of all relevant records and documents including a copy of the tenancy agreement, the tenancy file and documents relating to the notice given, the disrepair reported, inspection reports or requirements to the property and computerised records.

Release of information

Where appropriate, the letter of claim should include the authorisation for release of the information to, for example, the tenant’s solicitors.

Action required of the landlord

The letter of claim should state what action is required of the landlord. This may include him forwarding, within 20 working days of receipt of the letter of claim, a full schedule of works together with the anticipated date for completion of such works. It may also include him providing his proposals for compensating the tenant.