Beware of ‘no win, no fee’ claims for housing disrepair
We are aware that some of our tenants have been approached by housing disrepair companies encouraging them to make housing disrepair claims against Dover District Council (DDC) with promises of compensation. These approaches may be by telephone or social media, a leaflet through your door, or even in person.
If your property has fallen into disrepair through no fault of your own and DDC has failed to repair faults which you have reported to us you may have a claim and it of course your right to instruct a solicitor. Please be reminded however, that if you are unhappy with our service or response you can raise a complaint to the Council and onwards to the Ombudsman where the complaint process has been exhausted. The Ombudsman service is free and simple to use, impartial, independent of DDC, non-adversarial, faster and broader in scope than a housing disrepair claim. Housing disrepair companies have been reminded that for social housing tenants the Ombudsman should be the first route for reporting complaints with their landlord.
For those individuals who decide to pursue a housing disrepair claim, they usually operate on a 'no win, no fee' basis. Make sure you read the small print before signing any legal contract including ‘no win, no fee’ contracts. Some agreements for example, have clauses in them that state all the lawyers’ costs must be paid in full even if you decide not to pursue the claim at a later stage. This could put you at serious financial risk.
Our suggestion to you:
- We want you to understand your rights and know how to resolve any repair and disrepair issues directly with us.
- You do not have to sign a contract immediately. Always read through any documents including all the small print before signing them. Make sure you understand all the terms and conditions. If you don’t understand anything, ask for clarification.
- You can change your mind. If you sign a contract you have a legal right to cancel the contract within 14 days without any consequences. This cooling off period is a legal requirement for all contracts that are entered into remotely, even if this is not set out in writing. Should you cancel after the 14 days you will likely be responsible for costs.
- You may not be aware that if you were to progress your matter through our complaints process, you may be entitled to compensation, and your repairs will be completed in a much shorter timescale, and finally there is no financial risk to yourself.
- If you are still not satisfied, you are able to complain directly to the Ombudsman, who may agree a compensation payment. Our complaints procedure and the Ombudsman process can be utilised even after a Letter of Claim has been received however, you may be then be bound by the terms of your no win, no fee agreement.
What can you do if you have genuine disrepair in your home?
DDC is committed to carrying out repairs we are responsible for within a reasonable time, giving priority to urgent repairs. If you have any outstanding repairs or feel you have a case of disrepair in your home, we would urge you to report it to us so we can investigate the situation and put things right.
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