'No win, no fee' scam targets tenants
No win, no fee. We’ve all heard the catchy strapline in countless daytime TV and radio ads. Sound to good to be true? Sadly, this is often the case with a new wave of supposedly low-cost solicitors targeting social and affordable housing tenants across the UK (as reported by Inside Housing).
The scam works like this: solicitors cold call social housing tenants, advising them to not allow or delay their landlord making repairs. The solicitors promise that the tenant can then pursue a claim under the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 on a “no win, no fee” basis.
The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 brings together requirements for social housing landlords with the government’s health and safety rating system.
"The Act is a good piece of legislation that is being exploited by predatory solicitors," Peter Marcus, a leading barrister at Trinity Chambers who works on Fitness for Human Habitation cases, comments. "[Tenants are being] picked up by people who knock on their door and say “don’t report any repairs, don’t let the landlord in to do works, and we will promise you thousands of pounds. Tenants are then left perplexed when they end up in court."
These “no win no fee” arrangements often turn out to be nothing of the sort, with charges buried in lengthy legal contracts. Tenants who have lost their cases have found the court ordering them to cover their landlord’s legal fees, as with a recently reported case in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, where a tenant who made a claim against their landlord (Barrow Borough Council, in this case) was ordered by the court to pay the landlord’s legal fees of a little over £9,000. Predatory legal firms are not presenting these risks to tenants at the outset of these cases.
The advice to tenants is to report a repair or any other issue with their home to Connexus as soon as possible, allowing as much time as possible to work towards a solution.