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Pinacl’s Digital Property Management – Strengthening the evidence against disrepair claims for Social Housing Providers.

The volume of disrepair claims against registered providers (RPs) of social housing has increased significantly in recent years. And disrepair claims are often accompanied by costly public liability claims.

Claims management companies have been marketing themselves in social housing estates across the UK, knocking on doors and dropping off leaflets, in order to identify people who have had problems with their properties, and encourage them to make claims which are then sold on to law firms. The cynical tactic is designed to encourage multiple claims in an effort to overwhelm the landlord and limit its ability to defend each claim. As a result, some housing associations have seen a 400% increase in the volume of disrepair claims against them.

Disrepair claims, where tenants seek compensation from their landlord for inconvenience or distress suffered as a result of a breach of repair obligations, are not insured losses. However, they are often accompanied by claims relating to personal injury or property damage, which can be far costlier. Such claims commonly occur in relation to damp.

"Dampness can cause respiratory issues and exacerbate pre-existing respiratory conditions,” says Matthew from Zurich Minuicipal. “Often, after receiving a disrepair claim, a landlord accepts it was their responsibility to make the necessary repairs and agrees to compensate the tenant for the time the property was in disrepair.

“However, the tenant might then allege that they, or their children perhaps, have also suffered respiratory problems as a result of that disrepair. All of a sudden, from having made an admission of liability to deal with what would have been a relatively simple disrepair claim, the landlord is now faced with a number of far more significant claims.”

So, how can Pinacl’s Digital Property Management help?

Well, while some claims will of course be legitimate, others will be groundless. The challenge of defending against them is exacerbated by poor record-keeping in the sector.

There are often factors such as the inability to gain access to inspect a property, however if the housing provider doesn’t have an audit trail to prove when and how they have responded, they could be forced to settle.

Pinacl’s Solution uses sensors to take hourly readings that are processed and presented on our application dashboard, providing real time and historical access to the information for reporting and analysis.

The temperature sensors can help avoid many problems including, faulty boilers, poor ventilation and even fuel poverty. Specific temperature and humidity conditions will cause damp. Humidity sensors can provide early detection of conditions which are likely to cause mildew and mould in a house, before it starts seeping into every pore of the house, causing significant cost and time-consuming repair works and increasing the risk of disrepair claims being made.

Pinacl can help to prevent damp by configuring alarms around specific thresholds which will be automatically triggered when these thresholds are exceeded, proactively alerting the Housing Provider to take appropriate action before it’s too late. Not only will this help to avoid costly repairs and refurbishments, but it will also create an audit trail as all data will all be stored and recorded on the dashboard. The housing provider can record which corrective actions they have taken and what actions the tenant needed/agreed to take, e.g. opening a window to improve ventilation or stop venting the tumble dryer into the house. If the tenant does not follow the corrective actions then the data will illustrate this, as the house condition would remain the same or worsen, and alerts would continue to show.

The housing provider would have evidence from the data to prove that the tenant did not try to improve the property health and in some cases, were even the cause of damp/mould which could have otherwise been prevented. If the tenant continued to ignore the necessary corrective actions, then the provider would have evidence to formally end the tenancy.

To find out exactly how our solution works book your free demo here.

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