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Colder weather and the Homes Act 2018 could impact housing disrepair instructions this winter

Winter is progressing and the chillier weather combined with the Homes Act 2018 is likely to impact the type of disrepair instructions lawyers become involved with in the coming months.

This is because hazards that might have previously been overlooked can now be considered a serious breach in light of new Fitness for Human Habitation legislation.

As a result, surveyors like us are preparing to investigate housing complaints that may have gone unnoticed or unreported in previous years.

Here are some of the seasonal issues we’re expecting to see:

  • Damp and mould growth

Damp and mould growth can be extremely hazardous to the health of tenants. Damp inside a property can lead to mould forming on furniture and walls and can also cause wooden window frames to rot.

Some damp is caused by condensation, which leads to mould growth which appears as a cluster of small black dots and it is important that we as surveyors present a clear opinion on what is causing this. Other defects in the roof, plumbing or the structure can be causes of damp.

Dampness can which encourage the growth of moulds and dust mites, can trigger a range of health issues, such as allergies, asthma and other conditions caused by the toxins and therefore any home with a serious level of mould may not be fit for human habitation. If a tenant contacts you about damp and mould in their home, then an initial opinion is available via our triage service or – alternatively – a survey will identify the cause and whether there is a breach of relevant legislation.

  • Excess cold

As we enter the colder months, disrepair lawyers are likely to see an increase in claims regarding excess cold.

A healthy indoor temperature is 18-21°C; anything below this could be classed as excessively cold.

Excess cold can be incredibly dangerous and in some cases fatal. Cold temperatures can aggravate conditions such as pneumonia, flu and bronchitis as well as increase the risk of cardiovascular conditions such as strokes and heart attacks.

When investigating complaints of excess cold, surveyors will look at whether there is adequate thermal insulation, what type of heating system is used, its size and how it has been installed and maintained.

  • Fire

Uncontrolled fire and smoke produced are serious threats to the health of tenants. Landlords and local authorities have a responsibility to minimise exposure to fire and burn hazards. This means that they need to ensure legal checks and guidelines are met and the correct equipment is supplied for tenants.

Stoves and other gas-burning appliances must be kept away from flammable materials. Fire alarms and smoke detectors must be tested regularly and fire extinguishers and blankets should be made available.

Furniture must comply with fire safety regulations and fire escapes must be clear.

A surveyor will know to look out for all of these signs and if a tenants’ health and safety are at risk.

  • Bathroom falls

People often turn to bathing when the weather turns colder, in order to ward off those winter blues.

This means the chances of bathroom slips trips and falls are likely to increase.

Falls associated with baths, shower rooms and associated fixtures can be very dangerous. Children under 5 and the elderly are the most at risk of falling in a bath or shower.

Falls mainly occur when getting into or out of the bath or shower. The positions of taps and other bathroom controls can also affect the likelihood of this happening and how severe the incident will be. The darker days contribute to darker rooms and poor lighting; inadequate space to dress and undress and the position of the door can also contribute to greater danger.

Prevention methods include making sure that baths and showers are securely fitted and are slip-resistant. Grab bars and handles can help steady the occupants as they manoeuvre themselves in and out of the bath or shower. The layout of the bathroom should allow sufficient functional space. Furthermore, sharp edges and projections should be minimised to ensure that any injuries aren’t exacerbated.

Your surveyor will check to see if the bathroom poses they type of hazards identified by the HHSRS.

  • Carbon monoxide

Excess levels of carbon monoxide in a property can be deadly and risks are greater in the winter when we turn up the heating, turn on the fire and perhaps cook more often to keep warm.

FFHH regulations require a carbon monoxide detector to be present in any room which has an oil, gas or solid fuel-burning appliance. These detectors should be regularly tested to ensure that they work properly. Household appliances such as faulty boilers, gas fires, central heating systems and open fires are the main causes of carbon monoxide gas in homes. Excess amounts of this gas can cause headaches, dizziness, breathing problems and even death.

A surveyor will assess whether the property has adequate carbon monoxide detectors in place and take measures to prevent issues.

If you need a survey…

Don’t forget to call Housing Disrepair Surveys if you are on the lookout for a reliable and knowledgeable surveyor.

Choosing the right surveyor is the best way to guarantee that your fitness for human habitation complaint gets dealt with and we have a range of fixed price services that will make hiring us easy and straight-forward.

Simply visit www.housingdisrepairsurveys.co.uk to make a booking, or call us on 0203 488 2433.