January 2022

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Disrepair claims – protect yourself from bogus callers

Torus are aware that some of our customers are being approached by Claims Management Companies about making a claim against us for disrepair.

These companies are not what they seem. They may not give you all the information you need before you agree to work with them, and they could put you at serious financial risk.

As your landlord, we’re here to help and look after you and your home. We want to protect you from these companies and explain the factors and risks you need to consider if you’re thinking of making a claim.

Torus wants to make you aware of these companies, how to make a disrepair claim or complaint direct to us, how you can keep safe, protect yourself from bogus callers and most importantly protect yourself from putting yourself at financial risk

What is disrepair?

If we don’t meet our obligations to keep your home in repair – including completing repairs we’re responsible for in reasonable time, and keeping installations for sanitation, electricity, gas and water supplies in working order – your home could be said to be in disrepair.

Who are these callers?

What are 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.  

Their aim is to make money, usually up to £500 per referral (whether the claim is a genuine disrepair claim). They will tell you that your home needs repair and will encourage you to put in a claim against Torus, to try to get you compensation.

They then sell your claim to Solicitors who act as intermediaries between you and your landlord (in this case, us), and represent you and handle the claim on your behalf, for a cost.

The ‘callers’ have been reported to be quite pushy and are asking tenants to sign documents to enter into a legal contract. We suggest that you do not allow these callers into your home or sign anything they ask you to sign.  To gain access to your property, they will often say that they are from ‘the housing’ or working on behalf of Torus (Helena Homes, Golden Gates Housing Trust or Liverpool Mutual Homes) or HMS and that they are there to complete a survey on the property.

Any agreement with these companies can put you at significant financial risk. Following a court case in March 2021, a Torus tenant has been left with a hefty £3,800 bill for court costs, following a failed disrepair claim against Torus.

What are the risks involved?

Disrepair claim companies use a legal scheme that was introduced to protect tenants from poor landlords.

These companies want to make money from you and your home and you need to know the facts in case they approach you. They will tell you that they have recently won numerous claims against Torus.

Hidden costs

These companies will usually tell you that they operate on a “no win, no fee” basis. But we’ve seen examples of where our customers have faced thousands of pounds of debt as a result of signing up to their agreements.

They usually also charge a fixed lump sum up front to take out an insurance policy to cover the cost of your claim. This lump sum can be a significant amount. 

Any potential compensation you receive from a claim may reduce to cover solicitor fees or legal costs (ours and yours, if the claim is unsuccessful).

Fees if you change your mind or court costs if you lose the case

When you have put forward 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, or the fixed premium for any insurance policy you’re advised to take out.

They may advise you that, if you want to stop the claim, you could be liable for:

  • Charges for the survey they have arranged, often up to £1,000.
  • Credit agreement charges of over £500 for “no win, no fee” to cover legal cost insurance.

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.

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 distressing.

You could be in breach of your tenancy

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 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.

If affects other services we provide

Defending disrepair cases is extremely expensive for us. Any money we spend on these claims takes away from 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?

Torus will arrange for a surveyor to carry out a survey in your home.

During the survey, they’ll make a note of any repairs your home needs, and check if we need to charge you for any damage.

If the survey identifies repairs that are our responsibility, we’ll arrange to visit your home and do the work.

We will also check our records to see whether you have reported any of the repairs to us before, in line with your tenancy agreement.

Torus will rigorously defend any dishonest or bogus claims.

We’re here to help - report disrepair claims directly to us

It’s really important to us that you’re happy with the services we provide for you. We’ll do everything we can to support you and look after your home, so that you don’t end up feeling like you have to make a claim against us.

But if you are unhappy with any part of our repairs service, please report to us in the first instance, either using your online account, emailing info@torus.co.uk or by contacting us free on 0800 678 1894.

By doing this, we can look to reach a solution as quickly as possible.

To find out more about our commitment to keeping your home safe and well-maintained, read about our repairs service.

Protect yourself from bogus callers - carry out identification checks

Sometimes, they may even pose as surveyors and say they’re from Torus (Helena Homes, Golden Gates Housing Trust or Liverpool Mutual Homes) or HMS.

If you’re unsure who someone is, do not let them into your home. If you feel unsafe, please call the police and let us know.

We are committed to reducing door-step crime, including bogus callers, claim farmers and rogue traders.

You should not let anyone into you home you are not comfortable with , to help safeguard against these types of callers, please observe the following tips:

  • Always ensure you ask to see the ID of unknown visitors to your home - all Torus Group (including HMS) staff will carry photo ID with them.
  • If someone claiming to be from Torus or HMS comes to your home or calls you up, but you are not sure, please call us free on 0800 678 1894 to check.
  • If someone contacts you by phone claiming to be from Torus or HMS, but you are not sure, please take their details and call us free on 0800 678 1894 to check.

If you’re dissatisfied with any aspect of our service, please find out how you can make a complaint.

If you need to log a new repair, have any concerns or require further information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Other support

You can also access independent help and advice from other organisations, including: