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Posted On: 24-04-2024
Posted In: Housing

Mid Devon District Council issues a reminder about cold callers and no win no fee firms, following second legal victory in less than a year.

A tenant of Mid Devon Housing (MDH), which is an arm of the Council, has been left potentially out of pocket after a “no win, no fee” solicitor persuaded them to sue the Council’s housing service, alleging disrepair in the property, in a case which lasted for 16 months.

The matter, scheduled for trial at Exeter County Court, reached a resolution when the tenants offered a settlement to avoid prolonged legal proceedings. The court ordered the tenants to compensate Mid Devon District Council with £4,735 towards its costs.

Councillor Simon Clist, Deputy Leader & Cabinet Member for Housing and Property Services, said:

"Although we were able to successfully defend this claim, I don’t think there are any winners in cases such as these. We know that the process was stressful for our tenants and it did not achieve the outcomes they were hoping for, serving only to delay some much needed social support.”

The recent case, reminiscent of a similar one in May last year, saw the Council facing allegations of property neglect leading to various issues including defective brickwork, mould, dampness, and a shower room leak. However, the Council's thorough repairs history demonstrated proactive measures taken to address concerns, including ventilation improvements and proposed upgrades to the property.

Despite a breach in the pre-action protocol by the claimants' legal representation, which hindered a joint expert survey, the Council's position remained strong with expert opinions supporting its stance. There was no evidence of moisture transfer from outside the building, there was no leaking pipework in the shower room and the condensation related mould was not as a result of any defect or failure to provide adequate ventilation.

Councillor Clist added:

“Moving forward, we aim to continue working collaboratively with tenants, offering tailored support to address repair, damp, and mould issues effectively. Tenants are encouraged to get in touch with us for assistance and guidance.

Mid Devon District Council has clear and robust complaints and compensation policies. Where failures are found, the issues can be resolved and tenants often receive compensation as part of responses. Our tenants also receive a response to their complaint within 10 days, and have the option to escalate their complaint to the independent Housing Ombudsman Service.