Housing Disrepair Legal Aid Costs Case Study

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ARC Costs were recently instructed to assist on a housing disrepair legal aid costs case which involved an applicant who was forced to live in a property covered in damp and mould.


Housing disrepair legal aid

Some cases of severe housing disrepair cases that pose a serious risk to a tenant’s health or safety can be covered by legal aid. To be eligible for legal aid, the disrepair issue must be serious, and the tenant must demonstrate that they cannot afford the legal costs associated with making a claim or taking Court action.

Legal aid is available to cover the costs of various housing-related legal issues, including taking action against a landlord to compel them to carry out repairs on the property​​.

Taking legal action in housing disrepair cases can be costly and complex. Whilst legal aid can help cover these legal costs, it is only made available when there’s a significant risk to the health and safety of the tenant or their family.

In cases that can be handled in the small claims court, tenants may have the ability to self-represent, but legal aid can support more serious cases that require professional legal representation from housing solicitors​​.

Moreover, legal aid is still available for a variety of housing and property disputes, including possession proceedings, homelessness, eviction and unlawful eviction, re-housing, and judicial review. Specifically, for possession claims, legal aid can be accessed to defend against proceedings from both public and private landlords, and funding may also be available for counterclaims related to disrepair​​.

It is important for tenants to seek legal advice to understand the full range of options available to them, including whether they might be eligible for legal aid, and to understand the process of making a claim for housing disrepair.

It is worth noting that although legal aid is made available for housing disrepair claims, it is not available to cover the costs of making a personal injury claim. A claim for compensation can be made alongside a housing disrepair claim, and most solicitors will offer a Conditional Fee Agreement to help cover the costs of making a claim.


Facts of the case

The Applicant inspected the property around 4-6 weeks before they entered into the rental agreement. During the inspection, the Applicant noted that the contractors had decorated the property to a poor standard. There were also a number of holes in the wall throughout the property.

When the Applicant received the keys and before the Applicant moved into the property, the Applicant and his friend decorated the inside of the property and spent between £300-£400 on materials to bring the standard of the property up to liveable conditions.

Whilst decorating, the Applicant noted that the wallpaper would not stick to the walls and the Applicant noticed pink paint on the walls. Further research showed that mould resist paint is pink which led the Applicant to believe that the mould that covered his property had existed before the Applicant had taken occupancy of the property.

Since the Applicant and his wife resided in the property, they cleaned the mould with bleach on multiple occasions to get rid of the problem.

Unfortunately, the mould created further problems and led to serious disrepair in the property along with spreading onto the Applicant’s belongings and damaging them and further damaging other places in the property such as the flooring.

The Applicant requested his friend to come and provide them with a quote to replace the flooring, and upon inspection the friend lifted the carpet and uncovered that the concrete underneath was wet.

The mould and damp had further spread and damaged the Applicant’s carpets, lino, curtains, nets, bedroom frame, mattress, fridge, freezer, sofa, pillows, clothing, and shoes.

The damp had also managed to damage the Applicant’s wooden chair which caused it to collapse. The damage caused the Applicant and his family significant inconvenience, distress, loss of amenity as well as a substantial financial loss trying to fix the situation. 

The claimant instructed a housing solicitor to assist with the proceedings. During the proceedings, and due to the stress, the Client suffered a heart attack. 


Costs in the case

The costs in the case were substantial and included costs for solicitors’ advice, counsel fees, expert witness fees, and multiple Court hearings.

The matter was funded by way of a Legal Aid Certificate with a costs limitation of £25,000.00 for incurred costs. The matter does remain however, ongoing, and has now been registered as a Very High Costs Case.

A civil law case that receives funding from legal aid is classified as a ‘very high costs case’ (VHCC) if the anticipated legal expenses are likely to surpass £25,000.

An enhancement of 20% was sought due to the Client confirming that the proceedings and disrepair of the property took a toll on his mental health, so much so that the Client suffered a heart attack during the course of the proceedings.


Housing Disrepair Legal Aid Costs Process

Housing disrepair legal aid costs recovery is predominantly conducted using the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) Online Portal (also known as CCMS). The system allows Legal Aid providers and Legal Aid Agency staff to access specific forms, reports, documents, and administration tools online.

In housing disrepair legal aid cases, a detailed assessment order is often issued, allowing housing Solicitors to seek reimbursement from the Legal Aid Agency.

If a final order is not issued, the legal aid certificate must be discharged to enable the assessment of legal aid costs.

To recover costs, Solicitors must quantify their expenditure, for both profit costs and disbursements, and submit Payments on Account (POAs) if the case is ongoing, or interim bills (if one aspect has concluded) or final bills (if the case is fully concluded) for completed work through the LAA’s online billing system (CCMS).

The Legal Aid Agency enforces strict invoice and costs submission guidelines, and we would always recommend the assistance of a costs expert to submit your costs claims online. Our Legal Aid Costs Draftsmen can provide assistance to ensure accurate and proper submissions and high levels of rejections can impact legal aid KPIs, which may trigger more frequent reviews of a firm’s performance by the LAA.

Submitted bills are scrutinised by the Legal Aid Agency for compliance with all guidelines. Once accepted, the agency may request evidence supporting the solicitor’s work, including court documents and invoices, before making payment.

Whilst some solicitors may recover costs for all completed work, the LAA may apply reductions if they find the claimed amounts to be inaccurate or unreasonable.


How can ARC Costs Assist?

ARC Costs has a team of legal aid costs draftsmen who are specialists housing disrepair cases. We are experienced in claiming back costs through the LAA for our clients and also processing via the CCMS system, working to maximise your costs recovery.

We frequently utilise the CCMS system for the submission of legal aid cost claims and manage all of the related administrative tasks on behalf of our clients. This approach not only releases fee earners from administrative burdens but also guarantees the swift and effective retrieval of your highest potential legal aid fees.

It is also worth noting that in exceptional costs cases (in which a fixed fee does not apply), the cost of utilising our Costs Draftsmen preparing your Bill can be recovered from the LAA.

To find out more about how we can provide you with assistance, please get in touch with us at 01204 397302 or email our team of experts at info@arccosts.co.uk. Alternatively, please use our free chat facility to speak to an expert directly.

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