The Ministry of Justice Launches an Online Legal Support Tool to Mitigate Landlord-Tenant Conflicts over Housing Disrepair Issues
Part of “The Doctor” D M Lloyd Jones’ work was to help tenants in need with potential issues surrounding their rented home.
The Ministry of Justice, in collaboration with the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government or MHCLG, recently launched a free online tool for landlords and tenants to use when resolving housing disrepair issues in private rentals. Users are directed to an online checker that determines the problem (or problems) and then offers tailored information, signposting, and guidance on what to do.
Introduced in England and Wales, the online support tool is intended to help landlords and tenants in the private rented sector (PRS) understand their responsibilities and rights, and prevent disrepair in the home issues from developing into more complicated situations. It offers assistance to renters who do not know what to do if their landlord does not respond to their requests.
How the tool works
The housing disrepair tool can be accessed easily through the gov.uk website. Once you are on the checker page, you can click the Start button to begin the process. You will be asked to answer a few questions about your rental (e.g. Are you renting in England or Wales? And do you live in a private rented flat or house?). You’ll also be asked if you’ve stopped paying your rent. If you answer Yes to this, you’ll get advice to continue paying your rent even if your landlord is ignoring repair requests.
After answering basic rental-related questions, you will be directed to a page that lists common housing problems. Some examples of disrepair issues on the list are:
- Outside doors, walls, roof or windows are dangerous or need repair
- Gas, electricity, boiler, heating or hot water supply is not working
- Damp or mould is growing inside
- Faulty or missing appliance
You are able to tick as many boxes as you want, all relating to the problems you are currently experiencing.
After clicking Continue, you will be asked to answer questions that are specific to the problems that you indicated on the checklist. The next set of questions will be about your health and your landlord.
Once you have answered all questions, you’ll be given a summary of all your replies. If you forgot something or if you’re not sure about some of your answers, you can change them before clicking on the Next Steps button.
The next page will show you important information about what you can do to resolve your housing disrepair issues. For example, if you indicated that the disrepairs have affected your health, you will be asked to get in touch with your local council so they can find emergency housing for you. If you said that your landlord is about to evict you because you have requested for repairs to be done in your flat, you will be directed to the Shelter website for additional information and help.
The housing disrepair tool provides a link to Citizens’ Advice, as well as to a list of landlords and tenants’ rights and responsibilities.
Other information made available include what to do if your landlord refuses to fix the disrepairs, what your next steps should be if the problems in your home have affected your health, and how to seek legal advice or an emergency court order.
The online support tool encourages users to answer a survey that can help improve the service. Additionally, on the lower right side of the screen, there is a pull-up arrow icon. When you click on it, an interactive dialog box will appear, asking questions about your experience with the tool and what actions you plan to do afterwards.
UK government legal support action plan
The housing disrepair tool is one of the Ministry of Justice’s contributions to the Legal Support Action Plan initiated by the government. The action plan aims to provide easier, quicker, and more efficient legal support services access for individuals, particularly those who belong to the most vulnerable sector of society. It is a continuous plan that is open to using innovation in ensuring that legal aid is available to everyone, including the UK’s future generations.
As part of the Legal Action Plan, the housing disrepair tool acts as a virtual legal support service with an initiative that stays true to the MOJ’s commitment of providing a convenient and free platform for people in need of early legal support. It can help deter landlord-tenant disputes and prevent these from escalating into life-altering problems.
Ultimately, what the tool does is act as a platform for addressing one of the main reasons why there are negligent landlords: many tenants do not know or understand their rights and that there are legal solutions to their disrepair issues.
Housing disrepair claims
If you or anyone you know need to file a housing disrepair claim, using the MOJ’s online support tool is a good option. However, if you want to further understand your rights and what you can do to protect these, you should get in touch with housing disrepair solicitors.
If you think legal action is the only solution to your disrepair problems, then it is best for you to connect with disrepairclaim.co.uk. Their solicitors are ready to help you any time you need them.