Warning about disrepair claims companies
We’re aware that some customers are being contacted by disrepair claims management companies about making a claim against us for disrepair. Sometimes the company claims to be working on behalf of Paradigm and may even send surveyors to your home.
We advise you not to engage the services of such companies as they could put you at serious financial risk.
- Paradigm never works with such companies – they are not connected to Paradigm in any way.
- Our teams work directly for – not “on behalf of” – Paradigm and we do not contact customers via WhatsApp.
- All our employees carry Paradigm identification badges which you should always ask to see.
- We occasionally use specialist contractors who will be able to prove that we have asked them to visit you.
- If you’re in any doubt, please do not give out personal details or allow access to your home.
- Call Paradigm Customer Services on 0300 303 1010 to verify the person’s identity.
What is disrepair?
As a landlord, we are obliged by law to keep our customers’ homes safe and in a good state of repair in a timely manner. This includes the structure and exterior of your property and all installations required for the supply of water, gas and electricity and heating. Any issues affecting these mean your home could be regarded as being in a state of disrepair.
Paradigm has joint responsibility with our tenants and homeowners for property repairs. Please read our Repairs Standards here. You will find out which repairs you and Paradigm are responsible for, how to request repairs and our repairs standards, including response times.
It’s really important to us that you’re happy with the service we provide to you. We usually deliver an excellent repairs service, but sometimes we don’t get it right or things take too long. We’ll do everything we can to support you and look after your home, so that you don’t feel that you have to make a claim against us.
If you are not happy with our repairs service, we have a comprehensive Complaints Policy which is managed by our Customer Resolution Team. Please read our Complaints Policy here. If this does not resolve your issue, you can refer your complaint to The Housing Ombudsman Service. You have the option of taking legal action against us, but you must have reported the disrepair directly to us first (not via a claims company). If you wish to take legal action, please be aware of the terms on which some disrepair claims management companies will take on your claim.
What are disrepair claims management companies?
They are companies that target tenants, particularly tenants of social housing landlords, with marketing tactics to encourage you to make a claim for disrepair. They then sell your claim to solicitors who act as intermediaries between you and your landlord (in this case, us). They represent you and handle the claim on your behalf – for a cost.
These companies exist to make money from you and your home. It’s important that you know the risks of engaging with them.
What are the risks?
These companies will usually tell you that they operate on a “no win, no fee” basis. But we’ve seen instances where our customers have faced thousands of pounds of debt as a result of signing up to their agreements.
They usually charge a fixed lump sum up front to take out an insurance policy to cover the cost of your claim. Any potential compensation you may receive from a claim can be reduced to cover solicitor fees or legal costs (both ours and yours, if the claim is unsuccessful).
These companies may not explain that if your case goes to court and is dismissed, you could be ordered to pay our legal costs, which could be thousands of pounds.
Fees if you change your mind
When you have started a claim and signed documentation from a solicitor, they usually will not allow you to stop the claim if you change your mind. If you want to stop the process, you may be liable for fees for any surveys of your home (which can be up to £1,000), or the fixed premium for any insurance policy that you were advised to take out (which can be up to £500).
It takes a long time to resolve
Some claims can take years to resolve and you may have to appear in court to give evidence as part of the process, which can be stressful.
You could be in breach of your tenancy agreement
During this time, most companies acting on your behalf will advise you not to allow access to us to visit your home to do any repairs. This will put you in breach of your tenancy agreement with us.
As your landlord, it’s our responsibility to ensure your home is safe and kept in good repair, so we’ll attempt to visit your home anyway having given you notice of our visit. If there’s a health and safety risk, we may request a court injunction to gain urgent access to do the work.
It affects other services we provide
Defending disrepair cases is extremely expensive for us. Any money we spend on these claims takes away funding and resources for repairs, planned investment and essential support services. This can have a detrimental impact on our neighbourhoods.
What happens if I make a claim?
We’ll arrange for a surveyor to carry out a survey in your home. You will need to provide us with access to your home to carry out this survey.
The surveyor will make a note of any repairs your home needs and check if we need to charge you for any property damage during your tenancy.
If the survey identifies repairs that are our responsibility, we’ll arrange to visit your home and do the work.
We’ll also check our records to see whether you have reported any of the repairs to us before, in line with your tenancy agreement.
We’ll rigorously defend any dishonest or bogus claims. If the claim is dishonest or bogus, you could be left with a large legal bill.
Are there other ways of getting independent help for disrepair?
If you want to get independent advice on your housing rights, whether regarding disrepair or other issues, we recommend that you go to an advice organisation which will have experts who can provide you with an independent and objective view of your issue. Organisations such as Shelter or Citizens Advice have online and phone services which can provide an initial view without you needing to sign onerous agreements and which may result in a better outcome if you have a good case.