When safeguarding your homes, there are many things to be on the lookout for. A recent and unscrupulous trend is that of ‘Claim Farmers.’
The term is appropriate, as it involves individuals referring to themselves as claim handlers or solicitors working for ‘the housing’, when in fact they are not. These companies want to make money from you and your home and will ‘assess’ the property and advise you to put a claim forward.
More often than not, they will tell you that they have ‘won numerous claims’ against various Housing Associations and use phrases such as ‘compensation’ and ‘no win, no fee’ to convince residents to sign on the dotted line. They might tell you of occasions where they have won thousands on behalf of customers and you are sure to win something similar, but they most likely won’t give you any real case examples.
What is rarely explained is:
- The contracts are often littered with confusing clauses, which could mean you end up liable for the legal costs if your claim fails;
- Claims can take up to two years to resolve;
- The solicitor may advise you not to allow your Housing Association to carry out any repairs while the claim is ongoing (which over two years would be a further inconvenience and would breach your tenancy agreement); and
- Once you have signed the contract, this is locked in and the process can’t be stopped. The solicitors may advise you that if you want to stop the claim, you could be liable for substantial charges.
The people encouraging these claims are often casual workers who are paid per referral, so it soon becomes clear why so many residents are told they are ‘eligible for compensation’, regardless if they are or aren’t. So, please be careful before you commit to any agreements with these companies, as they could put you at financial risk.
While everyone has a right to legal representation, it is important to remember that The Pioneer Group will never send someone to assess your home without prior arrangement, and will discuss any issues or repairs directly with the tenant. If approached by a Claims Handler or someone claiming to work for ‘The Housing’, remember, to:
- always ask for identification
- call the police if you feel scared or threatened
- talk to us before you sign any documents or get some independent advice from an organisation such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
In need of a repair?
Of course, there can be times when things go wrong, we here at The Pioneer Group are keen to hear about and remedy any issues. Using claim handlers can often mean expense and frustration so if you are unhappy with our services, please contact us as soon as possible and we will work to make things right. You can contact our team by:
- Calling us on 0121 748 8100
- Emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Or even visiting us at 11 High Street, Castle Vale, B35 7PR
If you are not satisfied with a service or with the way a service request was handled, please follow our complaints procedure which you can find on our website at www.pioneergroup.org.uk/complaints-procedure