Council Must Pay for Defects in “Right to Buy” Home

housing assoc house_0.jpg

A woman who exercised her right to buy her council home, only to later discover that it was structurally unsound and in danger of partial collapse, has won almost £75,000 in compensation from the local authority which sold it to her.

After she bought the house, it emerged that it was not properly secured to the property next door, causing it to pull away and leaving a large gap. In awarding her damages of £74,876, a judge found that the council had breached the duty it owed her under the Housing Act 1985. Although it had been aware of the defect before the sale, it had failed to disclose what it knew to the purchaser.

However, at a late stage in the proceedings, the woman had abandoned claims of negligence and misrepresentation against the council. As a result, she was ordered to pay legal costs bills which wiped out the whole of her damages award.

In upholding her challenge to the costs decision, the Court of Appeal noted that the council was at fault in failing to refer back to its records, which would have revealed the existence of the defect.

The woman was undoubtedly the victor in the litigation and was entitled to have the majority of her costs paid by the council. Her lawyers confirmed that, as a result of the decision, she would receive her damages in full.

Rex Cowell