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Defective Housing Act Explained

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In the early 1980s, a fire occurred inside a Airey house which caused extensive damage. Most of the internal wall materials had been destroyed leaving the PRC structure exposed to reveal a number of worrying structural defects. Serious cracking was found in the structural PRC columns caused by inadequate protection of the embedded steel reinforcements and chemical changes to the surrounding concrete.

Defective Airey House PRC Column
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Further investigations by BRE showed that a number of other house types built during the postwar rush to build new homes, exhibited similar defects, that would most certainly lead to eventual structural failure.
In 1984 the Government introduced legislation to compensate owners who had bought affected houses from the public sector under right to buy schemes.  It was deemed that the the severe structural defects could not have been identified during surveys at time of purchase due to the nature of the properties.

The Housing Defects Legislation (now Part XVI of the Housing Act 1985) allowed the Secretary of State to designate particular dwelling types as inherently defective, and empowered local authorities to operate a Scheme of Assistance for all eligible owners, either by way of buy back or by way of repair.

An extract from an early House of Commons debate on this issue can be found HERE

Over 28,000 households were aided under the Assistance Scheme, with only a small number of eligible properties not taking part.
Most ‘repairs’ were carried out using a system of repair which was licensed, inspected and certificated by PRC Homes Ltd, a subsidiary of NHBC, however not all owners chose this route. Some local authorities carried out ‘partial repairs’ to their own stock, which unfortunately did not remove all the defective PRC structural elements from the dwellings. Unfortunately, this type of 'local repair' did not provide valid PRC certification, meaning that in many cases, the property remains unmortgageable to lenders.

Airey House Undergoing Repair by

PRC Homes LTD, closed down in 1996. Houses repaired under the licensed scheme were generally considered by some lenders to be acceptable for mortgage lending purposes with a standard N.H.B.C warranty."
The legislation did not allow for any improvement during repair, but superficially, the appearance of a reinstated houses changed dramatically, despite key identification characteristics such as window and door openings, and roof pitches, remaining constant.

It should again be stressed that the presence of a new brick skin alone on a defective house, does not in itself signify that the house has been repaired under an approved PRC repair scheme. PRC repair Certification is only issued to homes repaired under the PRC repair scheme and the certification document should always be viewed/ verified prior to sale or purchase.

Surveyors who encounter a property that is designated defective, are advised to check if the property has been repaired in accordance with the PRC Homes Ltd licensed system, and certificated as such.

Which Properties Were Designated Defective?

Thirty house types were eventually designated as inherently defective, in separate legislation for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The legislation in Scotland has since been repealed and is no longer relevant.

Defective Property Type BRE Report Ref
Airey P003
Ayrshire County Council P010
Blackburn Orlit P024
Boot Pier and Panel P026
Boswel S007
Cornish Unit Type I P039
Cornish Unit Type II P040
Dorran P046
Gregory P055
Mac-Girling PO78
Myton P087
Newland P090
Orlit P091/ P092
Parkinson P094
Reema Hollow Panel P101
Schindler S049
Smith P107
Stent P110
Stonecrete P113
Tarran Temporary Bungalow P115
Tee Beam P117
Ulster Cottage P122
Underdown P123
Unitroy P126
Unity Type I P127
Unity Type II P128
Waller P129
Wates P130
Wessex P132
Whitson-Fairhurst P134
Winget P137
WooIaway P138


We constantly hear of cases where a surveyor has incorrectly identified a property as defective when it is actually not. This occurs regularly even with BISF Houses. The defective housing act primarily covers houses of PRC construction, however, some surveyors appear to assume that all non-traditional properties are defective, when factually they are not.

If your prospective property has been listed or identified as defective by your Surveyor, he/she may well suspect that the build type of your house is one of the construction types listed above. If your house is a BISF House or of a construction type not on the list, it will be up to you to convince your surveyor and lender who received your surveyors report otherwise. This should not be too difficult, as most surveyors are willing to accept than an error may have been made, particularly when they are unsure of the construction type themselves.

Repair Certificates - Who needs one?

All designated houses repaired under an approved repair scheme will be issued with a repair certificate and the details will be entered onto the approved repair register. This document provides valuable proof that the house has been repaired correctly.

My Surveyor is asking for a certificate but my house is not on the list.

The first indication that your home may have been wrongly classified as defective, usually occurs when a surveyor asks if you have a repair certificate for your property. You should know that only those property types listed above require a certificate. If your house type is not listed, you will not have and do not need a repair certification.

First and foremost, be sure to confirm the property type of your house.
Sometimes, homeowners can be misinformed of their construction type. This can and does happen more frequently than one would expect due to a wide number of reasons. We have even found cases where property deeds and survey reports have wrongly classified a properties build type, yet it has been accepted by the lender as being correct when it is not.
If you are at all unsure, check with neighbours or post a picture of your property in the house identification section of our forum and we will do our best to assist, but please understand that in certain cases this may not be possible, as only a physical inspection may provide the answer in some cases.

Repair Certificates

Owners of defective properties who need to undertake repairs in order to sell their properties or owners who do not possess a PRC repair certificate (One may never have been handed to you), should contact an approved PRC repair specialist for further advice and assistance as they may be able to access the repair register. In some cases, if your property has been correctly repaired but not under the repair scheme but by a council etc, they may be able to re-inspect your property and assess if the works have been carried out to the correct standards required and recertify your property for a fee.

Since the original publication date of this post, the housing defects legislation in Scotland only, has been repealed. However lenders may still choose to classify the property as defective for lending purposes if they wish to do so.

Useful Links

Upgrading a PRC certificate /

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Posted : 17 August 2018 11:20 AM
Posts: 1

@nsh-team Re Orlit housing and defective label.  I've been trying to obtain a mortgage for an Orlit house in Scotland.  The bank (Nationwide) has spent three months arranging this, and now they've just informed me that this is classed as a defective house and not suitable for lending.  I know that Scotland had repealed the defective status of these homes.  Furthermore, a UK gov assessment in 2014 of a range of Orlit houses found that problems were only found in flat-roofed houses, not pitched-roof houses, which this is. Does anyone have any more information on this? I would think the bank has just seen the name 'Orlit' and refused the mortgage.  Thanks.

Posted : 20 November 2023 7:43 PM