Can artificial intelligence help landlords avoid and defend disrepair claims?

read time: 2 min

As disrepair claims gain more media coverage, tenants are becoming increasingly aware of their rights and the obligations of their landlords. Consequently, we have seen a major uplift in disrepair claims over the past few years. 

Can artificial intelligence really help?

AI can be used by landlords and councils to manage disrepair claims and ideally, prevent them from occurring. 

Often tenants will report disrepair to their landlords when immediate attention is required to remedy a problem, such as a leak or mould developing inside their property. Where housing associations and local authorities have multiple properties to manage and frequently face setbacks, such as contractor shortages, they could be held liable for not resolving the issue within a timely manner. 

AI can help by analysing historical maintenance data, environmental factors and tenant reports to predict where certain areas of the property might need maintenance before a tenant even reports it. AI-enabled internet of things (IoT) devices can analyse data, to reveal patterns and create efficiencies whilst also learning from that data for future reference.

Landlords may start by installing moisture sensors or leak detectors, for example to notify them of water ingress prior to mould formation. However the technology can go a step further and also produce statistically informed predictions, to support landlords in maintaining properties more strategically and efficiently prior to disrepair occurring.

AI can also be used to assist landlords in dealing with and responding to disrepair claims, when they arise. It can:

  • track the progress of claims, sending works reminders to the landlord and automatic updates to all parties involved;
  • act as a chatbot allowing tenants to arrange works appointments, amongst other things;
  • deliver accurate and fast redaction of disclosure and review works orders and inspection reports.

What is the down side?

Whilst it is evident that AI could be invaluable in avoiding, managing and progressing disrepair claims to save money and create efficiencies, landlords may be required to disclose AI predictions made for a property to the tenant making a disrepair claim. This has the potential to weaken a landlord’s bargaining power and increase their period of liability if works were not completed. Whilst AI would likely save more money through its preventative measures than lose it, this is a risk worth noting and we will be interested to see how this plays out in future hearings.

The progression of AI technology in areas such as this is inevitable to some degree - landlords should consider using AI-powered tools, to help manage their disrepair case load and prevent claims increasing in the future. Whilst the initial costs may seem prohibitive, it is an investment that would benefit both tenants and landlords.

For more information, please contact our property disputes team.

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