- Jade Price
The Real Cost of Litigation
Damp, Mould and Fitness for Human Habitation are issues that have been thrown about in the news a lot recently, creating a storm of new claims for the social housing sector due to increased awareness.
But what is the real cost of damp and mould? And how can housing providers mitigate the risk of fitness for human habitation claims due to these issues?
The legal costs associated with Fitness for Human Habitation claims can be extensive and ongoing. With the influx of no win no fee solicitors targeting the sector and the difficulty to defend these claims, the number and frequency of these claims is going to increase.
Some of our clients are experiencing costs upwards of £3500 just to concede Fitness for Human Habitation claims for damp and mould. If they decide to defend these claims, costs increase dramatically and exponentially.
Cost to reputation
Recently, housing providers have been in the mainstream news because of damp, mould, and Fitness for Human Habitation, sometimes unfairly due to tenants causing the issue in the properties, or not allowing access for maintenance. These news stories are detrimental to company reputation and tenant satisfaction. A decrease of tenant satisfaction is usually followed by a rise of claims.
Cost to tenant health
Health issues start to arise when a tenant inhales mould spores. These spores contain a toxic substance known as Mycotoxins that can affect a person’s immune system. Everyone is affected differently, but these effects could last months or even years after the mould is eliminated from the property. Symptoms can range from cold, flu or hay fever like symptoms to Respiratory distress, skin irritation, lung diseases such as asthma or even cancer.
If a tenant experiences these side effects, they may seek compensation. This can be an immense cost from not only the compensation but also the legal fees associated.
These costs are immense and will only continue to grow with more media attention and no win no fee solicitors targeting the sector.
So how do you stop these claims before they get off the ground and successfully defend these claims before it gets to court?
The combination of MultiDOT and BCM give you the ability to monitor damp and humidity in real time, spot trends, and action solutions before a Fitness for Human Habitation claim ever gets off the ground.
Damp and mould issues are caused by humidity levels above 60% and temperatures between 15 and 25 degrees. Mould spores will begin to grow rapidly 24 to 48 hours after these conditions occur. As this temperature is the average comfort setting for houses in the UK, managing the humidity is the only option when tackling damp and mould issues.
Humidity can be influenced by three factors:
Failing building infrastructure.
Highly efficient building insulation upgrades without the corresponding ventilation upgrades.
Using the bi-directional client customer communication platform, Customer Connect, in addition to MultiDOT and BCM will further reduce the risk of damp and mould and associated claims by informing the tenant when humidity is too high in their property and advise on what to do to alleviate the issue. A full audit trail of the temperature and humidity in the property as well as Customer Connect activity can be seen on the Vericon Systems Portal. If a damp and mould issue is caused by tenant behaviour, the landlord is exempt from Fitness for Human Habitation claims and will not be required to remedy the situation.
If humidity isn’t influenced by customer activity, actions can be taken to fix any infrastructure or ventilation issues based on the temperature and humidity information collected from the property.
Our team are ready to help you mitigate the risk of claims, and make sure you are able to defend any claims that arise! Get in touch